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Four Things That New Comics Do That Hurt Them Getting on Stage

Comedy is like heroin. Once you get that first laugh, that first high, you are always chasing to get that feeling again. That and once you get a taste, you will do some pretty dumb shit to try and get more. Young comics become addicts pretty quick. They do things off that stage that could hurt their reputations and cause hem to not get on more stages. Here are 4 things I’ve noticed happen a lot. If you are doing these things and think no one is noticing or that isn’t a big deal, you are wrong. People are talking, just not to you.

1. Lying about credits. A lot of young comics do this. They want to impress clubs or bookers so they inflate what they have accomplished. They send out emails to clubs with false information. They do so because in reality, they don’t have any noteworthy credits yet. They feel by stretching the truth they can convince the club to book them. But comedy is a small world. It is very easy to fact check. And if you are caught lying, the club remembers that and it leaves a negative taste in their booking mouth. Comics lie about where they have worked. Now, when I say worked, I mean actually being hired and paid by the comedy club. If you did the open mic, showcase or bringer for a club, you didn’t work for the club. Yes, you got to be on the stage. But you weren’t sought out for your talents and hired. You either reached out, signed up or agreed to terms (like bringing a certain amount of customers) to gain stage time. Being on a show like that isn’t a bad thing. It is where a lot of new comics get their first taste of a real stage. But when a booker is looking to hire comics for their professional weekend shows, many of them would like to know if you have worked for other clubs before. Clubs know who they have had at their clubs. They don’t know who was on a 3rd party show or did their open mic. If I am a booker, I can easily contact another club and ask them about you. Don’t put it in your resume or bio if it can be proven false. Also, don:t lie about who you have opened for. If you got to be on a 12 person showcase and a famous comic did a surprise pop in and did a set, you didn’t open for that comic. Avoid mentioning other comics at all in your credits. Who you worked with is only impressive to friends and family. Means absolutely nothing to a booker, Why would someone hire you based on the popularity or talent of another human? That has nothing to do with you. You are basically bragging about people you met. It doesn’t speak to your talent. It doesn’t tell the booker why they should hire you or why you are a good fit for them. The booker sees this and realizes you have nothing else to offer. And if you say you are the opening act for a well known comic, that booker probably has that comics contact info. They can easily get a hold of them or their people and ask for a reference about you. And when that response is “we have no idea who that is” then you look stupid and the booker now thinks poorly of you. Be honest in your emails. It is ok to have not accomplished a lot yet. If you are looking to host weekends, they know you are newer to the game. They don’t expect you to be a world beater yet. Making shit up will only come back to bite you in the ass.

2. Harassing bookers Getting a booker or show producer’s phone number or email is a lot like getting a person you like to give you their number. You can either smoothly and calmly contact them at a reasonable time, put the ball in their court and wait for a response or you can be a psycho and message them at all hours, begging and pleading for a chance and end up getting blocked or ignored. many young comics over message. If you were given the contact info by the booker themself, then they are expecting to hear from you. Once. If they don’t respond right away, it’s okay. You are not the only comic they are dealing with. It may seem urgent to you because you are hungry for stage time and excited to work their venue but to them this is just a small part of their job. They will get to you if they initially asked you to contact them. Be patient. The more you fill their inbox, the more they will become aware of you but not in a good way. Now, if they didn’t give you the contact info and you just acquired from someone else, you need to send one very brief email and that is it. Do not send them your life and times. Do not give them all your available dates. They didn’t ask for anything, don’t be pushy. And if they don’t respond right away, do not send another email a day later asking if they received the first email. You come off crazy. They don’t know you. They have other things to do. They are busy. Eventually they will get to your email. They may respond. They may not. If they do, they will inquire about you then you send them what they ask for. If they don’t respond, let it go. You are better off getting lost in a sea of emails then bombarding them with emails. Because they will know you as the crazy stalker comic who has no chill button and avoid you. You will already have a bad rep with them and they don’t know you or your act at all. Be cool. Be smooth. Hit them once with the email subject being you (comedian Pat Oates is what I would write) then a brief “Just inquiring about the process of being booked at your club/venue. Clip and resume available upon request. Thanks” Then leave a phone number under your name and your website link if you have one. Ball is in their court. If they want info, they will now ask. You asked them if they wanted to get together sometime, let them set the date. Don’t let your hunger and excitment come off as crazed and thirsty. Oh, and seriously, don’t bother people you don’t know on their personal social media. If you don’t have their email, don’t slide into their DM’s at 2am asking for gigs. They are people. They have lives. Treat them professionally and they will treat you professionally. Treat them like their personal time doesn’t matter and will treat you like you don’t exist.

3.Be careful of running with just one crowd Listen, it is great to find other people like yourself who share a passion for comedy. A want to be better. A need to be on stages making people laugh. It’s great to have people to hang with at open mics and showcases. But sometimes, when comics start out they become known for their cliq and not as an individual. And if someone in your group acts unprofessional, it can hurt your reputation. When you go to mics and shows, focus on you and your act, But more importantly, make sure you are seen as a hard working comic who is respectful of the venue’s staff, the audience and the venue itself. Being the life of the party with your other comedy friend’s might feel like you are living the “comedy life” but all you are doing is drawing negative attention to yourself. If you are known to be part of a group of comics, work on being known as an individual. Hang with your friends when the mic is over. Go somewhere else and act the fool. Treat every time you go to a mic or showcase like you are going to work. Because if you want to become a comc, this is your work. Be the comic who is friendly and says hi. But also be the comic who is respectful, is preparing to go on stage and is thankful after. Sitting in the corner with your other comedy friends giggling during other comics sets or acting like Mean Girls when a comic who isn’t in your circle will build you a reputation that is hard to overcome. You might just be sitting there and may be respectful but if the crew you are associated with is a distraction or bothersome, it will reflect on you.

4. Don’t talk shit A lot of young comics get caught up in the excitement of being a comic. They like when other comics talk to them about being a comic. They enjoy talking about other comic’s jokes and sets. Makes them feel like a real comic. But sometimes in all the excitement, young comics will try to impress others by giving their opinion or take on a comedian or booker. And usually this isn’t flattering. They talk about how someone isn’t funny, why they shouldn’t get work, or how a booker plays favorites. They are gossiping. Talking shit. And it is easy to get caught up in this to try and impress others and also try to put yourself over. But this can backfire on you, big time. Because the comics you are confiding in will now gossip about what you said. What, did you think that people who go on stage for attention won’t seek out attention at your expense? Be careful what you say. Trashing individuals will not help you advance. It will only hurt you. You want comics and bookers talking about what you say on stage, not off stage.

Working on your act and developing as a comedian is hard work. And it takes a long time just to understand what you are doing, what your POV is and just to be okay at it. Let what you do on stage be what you are known for. If you build a reputation as a pain in the ass or difficult off stage, you won’t get as many chances to be on stage to show everyone what you can do.

Comedy coaching and my book How Not to Suck at Comedy are both available at patoates.com, as well as all my recent articles.

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