I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be recording my third live stand up comedy album (to be released by Comedy Dynamics) at The People’s Improv Theatre in New York City on Sunday September 24th.

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FULL PRESS RELEASE

Comedian Ben Rosenfeld, a Russian born Jew based in New York City, covers such topics as his being raised by loveably insane Russian immigrant parents, American politics through an outsider’s perspective and his recent decision to get married – mostly to make his jokes more relatable.

Ben’s second album, “The Russian Optimist,” reached Amazon’s Top 5 best selling comedy albums. Now Ben returns to record his third live stand up comedy album, “The United States of Russia.” If you like your laughs sprinkled in with intelligence and thought provoking points, you’ll love Ben’s newest hour.

There will be two shows – 7PM and 9PM – both at The PIT Underground. Doors open 20 minutes before showtime.

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BIO

Ben Rosenfeld creates smarter comedy for smarter people. Ben’s comedy blends his family’s experience as Russian Jewish immigrants in America with his philosophical beliefs, political observations and unique characters.  Ben has appeared on FOX’s Laughs, CBS This Morning, National Geographic’s Brain Games, NPR Weekend Edition, SiriusXM Radio, Rooftop Comedy and been featured as TimeOut New York’s Joke of the Week.  He has twice headlined at Caroline’s on Broadway, hosted at the Lincoln Center and performs nightly in New York City.  Ben has two comedy albums, Neuro Comedy (2012 – iTunes | Amazon ) and The Russian Optimist (2016 – iTunes | Amazon | Google Play – released by Comedy Dynamics / New Wave Entertainment) – which has been an Amazon Top 5 Best Selling Comedy Album.  Ben also created the illustrated coffee table book, Russian Optimism: Dark Nursery Rhymes To Cheer You Right Up, an Amazon Top 5 Best Seller in Humor Books.

 

Ben’s record label is New Wave / Comedy Dyanamics. They are the largest independent stand-up comedy production and distribution company, producing Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History for History, Animal Planet’s Animal Nation with Anthony Anderson, the new scripted comedy on Seeso, There’s … Johnny, History’s Join Or Die with Craig Ferguson, MTV2’s Wild ‘N On Tour, Hulu’s Coming To The Stage, and MTV’s Spooning with…Zac Efron. The company has worked with a wide-range of established and emerging comedic talent including Kevin Hart, Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari, Jim Gaffigan, Katt Williams and many more. Comedy Dynamics is available on most streaming platforms including: Hulu, Roku, iOS, Amazon, and Android.

 

Comedy Dynamics Records’ album Louis C.K. Live At Madison Square Garden won the Grammy for Best Comedy Album in 2016. In total, eight of Comedy Dynamics’ albums produced between 2013-2015 have been Grammy-nominated.

 

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I’m excited to announce I’ve been named as one of the “40 Best Up and Coming Comedians” – the list is alphabetical by last name, so you’ll have to scroll down for a while to see me.

My favorite quote from it is, after explaining how I perform “smarter comedy for smarter people” the article goes on to say,  “Don’t worry if you’re stupid. Rosenfeld will still make you laugh.”

Many people think a comedian only gets paid to perform live comedy into a microphone in front of an audience. But did you know that there’s at least 20 other ways comedians make income?

Until you have the name recognition of Bill Burr or Louis CK, making money in comedy, particularly stand up comedy, can be quite the up and down adventure. For most comedians I know, the key to staying afloat and not needing a day job is multiple income streams.

Here’s all the ways I make money as a professional comedian:

  • Performing stand up at live shows including:
    • College shows – this is my favorite. The audience is usually smart and sober.
    • Hosting aka “MCing” (pays well in NYC showcase clubs, poorly everywhere else) – this involves more crowd interaction and being organized enough to keep track of everyone else’s names, credits and how much time they’re doing
    • Regular showcase spots – low pay, but you can do 3-5 shows a night, great for working out new material for 5 to 25 minutes at a time
    • Featuring and/or headlining clubs and bars outside of NYC – you do 30 to 45 minutes, and spend lots of time seeing the country, or country’s highways at least.
  •  Performing stand up on a TV show, Netflix or Seeso – this can range from a few hundred dollars for less popular programs to thousands of dollars for more well known brands.
  • Writing punch up for tech speakers – I’m part of a new service funnybizz.co which helps people infuse humor into their Ted Talks and other keynote speeches
  • One-on-one writing help for newer comedians – I work with some comedians to help them with their material
  • Book sales – A couple of years ago, I put out a book, Russian Optimism: Dark Nursery Rhymes To Cheer You Right Up. It’s been an Amazon Top 20 Best Seller in Dark Humor Books. I sell it online and after shows.
  • Album sales (via iTunes, spotify, etc) – I have recorded and put out two comedy albums. Anytime someone buys it on iTunes or Amazon, or streams it on Spotify or some of the other services, I get paid.
  • Album royalties (XM radio plays via SoundExchange) – my second album is getting played on Sirius XM radio, and I get royalties from that.
  • Radio and voice acting – I do a bunch of voice over work.
  • Commercial and legit acting – I spend more time auditioning than getting paid to act, but this is one of those lottery parts of comedy, you get one right role and everything else falls into place.
  • Video editing – Over the years I’ve taught myself video editing and now other performers pay me to help them.
  • Directing – I taught myself how to direct (and be director of photography, and do the lighting, and the sound) and now others pay me to run their web series and short films.
  • Video filming – I’m good at technology and sometimes film live comedy shows for other performers.

Here’s other ways that comedians I know make money (in addition to all the ways I listed above):

  • Teaching comedy classes
  • Producing their own live comedy shows (or open mics) and charging a cover
  • Being a staff writer for a TV show that someone else created (a sitcom like Big Bang Theory or a late night show like Seth Meyers)
  • Being a talking head on a TV show (like TruTV’s World’s Dumbest, MTV Guy Code or VH1’s Best of The 90s)
  • Being a punch up writer on a movie set – the movie is written by someone else, but you’re constantly pitching funnier lines during filming
  • Hosting a podcast or web series with a large enough following to sell advertisements – Marc Maron is the best example of this but there’s plenty of funny YouTube stars that make a living like this too
  • Having a development deal at a network or studio – this is basically an exclusive one year deal where you get paid money to come up with an idea for the network or studio
  • Selling t-shirts, audio CDs and other merchandise after the show – I’ve been told t-shirts sell better than books
  • Creating and selling your own TV show or movie – this is different than writing for someone else’s project, as you create the idea yourself. You can also get paid to write it in advance (or write it for free and then try to sell it) and it might still never get made, or only get made as a pilot and never aired, but you will have still made income from this. It’s also different from acting, because you may not be in the show (think Larry David at Seinfeld).

 

Conclusion: There’s more than one way to make rent, it’s about staying flexible, finding your niche, always improving, always creating and always hustling.

For the past eight years, I set goals at the start of the year and then reviewed how I did at the end of the year [see 201620152014, 2013201220112010 and 2009]. I feel like this is working for me, in the sense of helping me focus my time, so here go my goals for this year. I have fewer goals this year (11 down from 19 last year) and then whittled down my top 4. I think I have fewer goals because the longer I do this, the more some things become automatic and don’t have to be tracked as goals, and the fewer things I actually care about. If I nail 3 out of these top 4 goals, and don’t achieve a single one of the others, I’ll consider it a very good year.

Performing

  • Perform 650 times this year, including 400 club spots
  • Perform at 10 college shows
  • Do a stand-up set on TV that airs in its entirety (not a stand-up clip show)
  • Go on 50 acting auditions, get 5 callbacks
  • Book at least one acting gig from an audition

Writing/Producing

  • Create 40 new minutes of material that I try on stage, turn 15 of those minutes into “A” jokes
  • Sell a TV show and/or write for a TV show

Learning

  • Take one acting class
  • Read 20 books

Financials

  • Earn $40,000 from entertainment related business income

Misc

  • Average weight 172 pounds or less

Top 4 Goals (Out of 11)

  • Do a stand-up set on TV that airs in its entirety (not a stand-up clip show)
  • Perform at 10 college shows
  • Create 40 new minutes of material that I try on stage, turn 15 of those minutes into “A” jokes
  • Sell a TV show and/or write for a TV show

On January 1st, 2016 I posted my goals for this year. Since it’s the last day of the year, it’s time to go through them and see how I did. Black text is the original goal and bold text is how I did. 

Performing (5 out of 8 accomplished)

  • Perform 700 times this year: including 350 club spots and 20 college shows
    Performed 678 times including 481 club spots and 4 college shows. While I came up short for college shows and a few shows short overall, I’m counting this as accomplished since I fully exceeded my club spot goal. For next year, I’m splitting the college shows into a separate goal.
  • Headline (40+ minutes) 25 times
    Headlined 7 times.
  • Become a regular (at least twice a month) at one new comedy club
    Became a regular at one new club.
  • Do a stand-up set on TV
    I filmed a set for season 3 of FOX Laughs at the end of September. (Still waiting for it to air.)
  • Do a NACA Showcase
    Did not do a NACA showcase
  • Submit to 3 comedy festivals, perform in 1 comedy festival
    Submitted to 4 comedy festivals plus a bunch of NACA showcases. Performed in 1 comedy festival (that I didn’t submit for).
  • Go on 30 acting auditions
    Went on 38 auditions
  • Book at least one acting gig from an audition
    Had some callbacks, but did not book any acting gigs from auditions.

Writing/Producing (3.5 out of 6 accomplished)

  • Write for at least 15 minutes a day for 300 days this year
    Wrote 334 days this year.
  • Create 30 new minutes of material that I try on stage, turn 10 of those minutes into “A” jokes
    Tried 30+ new minutes of material on stage this year, at least ten of them are “A” jokes (in September I did 50+ minutes of material that I didn’t record on my album the previous year).
  • Write a packet for Last Week Tonight
    Wrote the packet.
  • Pitch my reality show sizzle reel to 5 production companies
    Pitched multiple reels to multiple places, this is all currently still in process, so gonna count it as 50% completed.
  • Get hired to write on a TV show
    Did not get hired to write for TV show, although I’ve been writing more punch up this year than in previous years.
  • Create and release 4 video sketches
    Did not release any real video sketches. Although I put out one rap song that’s also a music video and did a bunch of editing for a friend’s videos.

Learning (0 out of 1 goals accomplished)

  • Take one class
    Did not take a class.

Financials (2 out of 3 goals accomplished)

  • Earn $40,000 from entertainment related business income
    Did not earn $40k.
  • Get my new album in the iTunes or Amazon best selling charts
    My new album was as high as #5 on Amazon.
  • Sell 50 copies of my book after shows (does not count Amazon and B&N sales)
    Sold 45 copies of my book after shows. Counting this as close enough.

Misc (0 out of 1 goals accomplished)

  • Get and then keep my weight under 170 pounds
    I got my weight under 170 pounds like 3 times all year. 

Top 8 Goals (5.5 out of 8 accomplished)

  • Perform 700 times this year: including 350 club spots and 20 college shows Yes
  • Do a stand-up set on TV Yes
  • Do a NACA Showcase No
  • Create 30 new minutes of material that I try on stage, turn 10 of those minutes into “A” jokes Yes
  • Write a packet for Last Week Tonight Yes
  • Pitch my reality show sizzle reel to 5 production companies In process
  • Get hired to write on a TV show No 
  • Get my album in the iTunes or Amazon best selling charts Yes