Every week I’ll be interviewing a different stand up comedian about their use of technology to further their career. For the first installment, I’m honored to present Clayton Fletcher.
Clayton Fletcher is a national headliner who performs all over the USA in various clubs and colleges. He has been seen on MTV, Sex & the City, and Rikki Lake. His live comedy show, The Clayton Fletcher Show, takes place every Saturday 8PM at New York Comedy Club. For more, visit www.claytonfletcher.com
1. How are you using the internet / social media to promote your career?
Nowadays a comic has to be on everything. You can find me on facebook, myspace, twitter, google, and of course on claytonfletcher.com. When I am on the road, I use the internet to let my fans know that I am coming to their area. I am doing a show in my hometown, Baltimore, in a couple of weeks and there is a facebook page that is dedicated to my “homecoming show” that weekend. I will see people in the audience that night that I have not seen since elementary school! And I have facebook to thank (or blame) for that.
2. Have you noticed the payoff yet?
Of course! People use my website to purchase copies of my comedy album, Clayton Fletcher: Actually Funny. They book me for gigs after watching my clips online. They engage me for personal appearances and corporate dates through my website. The web has really changed the way comedians get jobs.
3. What do you think about posting videos of your show online?
It is a great way for people to see my work and decide whether they want to hire me. But the bad news is that I run the risk of the audience being too familiar with my material. Any time I do a joke that I have on YouTube, it does not get the same laugh as it did before it was on there! The truth is the audience has heard the joke already because nowadays people like to sample a comic before they go pay money to see him live. But what is really funny about that is that they sometimes say “Man, why didn’t you do that bit from the website?!? I love that joke!!” And I’m like, “But you’ve already heard it!” But I remember how many times I listened to my Bill Cosby albums as a child, so I totally get it. If a joke is funny enough, you will laugh at every time you hear it, not just the first time.
4. How do you think digital tools will change comedy?
Well, in the old days you used to have your manager send a VHS to a booker and then they would discuss whether you were right for a certain club or a certain gig or whatever. Now many of us do not even have managers because we can interact directly and quickly with buyers. Instead of waiting three days for the post office, all they have to do is click on the clip and see it right now. Everything is much easier this way and there is less of a need for the “middle man” in many cases.
5. How much information do you tend to share on the social networks?
I try very hard to keep things professional on there. I do not disclose my address or whom I am dating, etc. My previous experience with stalkers has taught me to love my fans more from a distance. Not to say that I do not interact with them, because believe me I do. I answer each and every e-mail or comment I receive! But I have learned to keep my private life private. I mean it is possible to have a real friendship with a fan, but comedians have to be careful how much information they broadcast to the general public. So my Tweets are more “Performing at Carolines tonight” and less “Slept with Sarah last night.”
6. What’s your weirdest online experience involving your comedy career?
Once a woman from England visited my website and sent me an e-mail asking me to perform at her mother’s birthday party. She offered to fly me to London first-class, pay for my accommodations at a fancy hotel, gourmet meals, saying that she had seen The Clayton Fletcher Show in New York when she was here on “holiday” and thought I’d be the perfect entertainment for this gala event. She came off as very wealthy and we did negotiate a price for the show. She sent me a check that was for an amount larger than we had negotiated, by $3,000!!! I notified her of the error and she told me to go ahead and deposit the check. I did and it cleared. A few days later she informed me that an error had been made, that I had been paid my fee plus that of the DJ for the party. She asked me to send her the balance via wire transfer. I decided to wait a few days because I was more than a tad suspicious of her by now. I mean I wanted it to be true, but you never know. Sure enough my bank called me the next day and asked me who wrote me the counterfeit check. I asked them who allowed it to clear! I am really glad that I never sent that wire transfer because I don’t think the FBI would care much that I’d been swindled out of $3,000. But the worst part was I turned down an actual weekend of road work for this fake London birthday party. You can never be too careful. I always tell comics that story because I really almost fell for it, and I think I am a pretty savvy New Yorker myself…