I don’t understand I guess. I see so many great things going on in comedy today. Technology has put so much power in the hands on the artist its astounding. The success that Marc Maron and Louie CK have gotten just shows what is possible when you put the work in and study more than just joke writing and performance. The knowledge of the business is really starting to outweigh performance in some ways. Because let’s face it, after Dane Cook blew Myspace out of the water with his millions of “friends” that let a lot of comics and bookers know that those so called friends equate into a fan base thus putting butts in seats. The internet? It’s another stage. Plain and simple. Twitter lets you toss one liners out there for your fans to retweet and reply to. What happens after its retweeted to someone that’s not following you? They follow you and *poof* a new fan/butt in seat is born. Yet there seems to be some divide in the nation of comedy. I don’t see a lot of black comedians taking advantage of the opportunities. I’m just being real. Not even the more established black comedians with screen credits. I see a larger population of these comics still hustling cds and DVDs from their trunk. Still trying to get a “hookup” from a touring comic and riding coattails. Hardly any online presence or a very poor presence if any. Now I know there are other comics of other races that are using the same dated methods but I’m looking at this from my own POV and it just doesn’t make sense when I hear a lot of black comics complaining about not getting a break and not getting any attention. The attention comes from doing the work and being creative. Along with studying more than other comics. You gotta’ get inside the books on new methods of marketing. So anyways, if I was a poor black comedian this is what I would do.
- Stop thinking urban comedy is the only style of comedy you can do. The lines between urban and mainstream comedy are fading IMO. Audiences are actually getting tired of the suits with 18 buttons and jokes about “bad ass kids” If you talk to audiences you’ll see that this hackness is getting old. It was hot in the 90s but now people want to hear honesty and POV. If all you have is recycled kool-aid jokes give people a break please. Step outside your comfort zone and explore the possibilities of a wider audience. I.E write about something different and at least interesting.
- Read! Blogs, books, Tweets. Anything you can about current methods of marketing. Do a Google search for Josh Spector. You probably have a Facebook page, but do you know how to use it effectively? Read all or as many Seth Godin and Gary Vanerchuk books you can. You ever notice there aren’t many new books on the art stand up comedy? That’s because much of that info is pretty much understood and hasn’t changed. Sure the basics still need to be taught and learned but the point is the game HAS CHANGED and it’s all about marketing today. The bookers and club owners want you to bring people in and it’s not their job to provide them outside of putting your name on the posters or website. You have to know how to market yourself and build a fan base ON YOUR OWN!!! You are the business so why not do business smarter? And it’s not about numbers it’s about engaging. (Read about current marketing methods and that will make sense)
- Get technical. Learn how to edit and produce your online videos. Create better videos and learn your way around Facebook, Twitter, SEO, web design, WordPress, Youtube, Viddler, Dailymotion, etc. I read the other day Louie CK edits his show Louie on his Macbook HIMSELF!!! Which made me wonder if Dave Chappelle took more advantage of controlling the technical aspect of his show as well as the writing, would things have turned out the way it did? Is Dave watching Louie right now? Do you think he should? Anyway, start a blog or vlog. Learn to link them to Twitter and Facebook. Delete your Myspace page (I actually thought about posting porn pics on my Myspace page so they will delete it for me.)
- Stop thinking Tyler Perry is the end all to black comedy. We’re smarter than that.
I’m not a fulltime working comic yet but what I do a lot of is search for new and better ways of doing something. I like learning and figuring out stuff. I like computers and techie gadgets and whatnot. I’m just curious. So I hate it when I see so many black comics spend a great deal of time complaining about the business and slamming Twitter and Youtube for taking people out of the clubs. Here’s the truth. Those people didn’t leave the clubs necessarily. They just found a new venue to be able to find what they’re looking for. So why not take advantage of it and learn how to make it work for you? I’m also sick of the “stage names” Why? What the hell is wrong with your own name? Unless you’re portraying a character I don’t get it. Its one thing to limit yourself because you can’t travel or you’re located in a state with one comedy club. But the internet has so many avenues to promote yourself and find you’re your niche audience. It just doesn’t make sense with the vast amount of unique voicse there are in the black comedy community that there should be so many that aren’t interested in reaching out past what they see and know. This post was aimed at black comics but it also applies to older comics who are either afraid of learning or too damn stubborn to wrap their heads around learning something new. It’s a comedians game out there now but you have to be smarter to make it happen. Stop thinking of comedy as a hustle and think of it as a business and you are the product. See the truth is the bookers know all this. It’s just there are too many comics that don’t. There are younger guys coming up getting deals with 2-3 years under their belt if any at all. One comic went to LA after getting out of college doing sketch and improv and came back home with a movie deal AND a sitcom deal. That comic is now getting booked as a stand up comedian without ever having intentions on being a standup. I’d be pissed if I were you. I am pissed and I’m not you. Be smarter my friends.