Today I’m interviewing Danny Browning. Danny has just started his 7th year as a full-time comedian. He has performed in over 40 states headlining comedy clubs, corporate events, and colleges.
I use the internet and social media to make a name for myself. Facebook and twitter are both excellent ways to gain a following and get your name out there. On Facebook, I might mention that tonight I’ll be in whatever town and then link to my website. I have over 2,000 Facebook friends so when I do that I get a lot of website hits.
I also use Facebook to advertise. I purchased advertising on there, created an ad, and I pay for however many times the ad is clicked on. I’m able to market those ads towards a specific area. For example, last night I was working in Iowa City and I marketed it the ad to 18-24 year olds who lived in Iowa City. That ad popped up only on that groups Facebook page.
2. Have you noticed the payoff yet?
It’s hard to say for certain. The first week of January is usually a pretty hard week to get people out. I used the Facebook advertising and Thursday through Saturday nights were packed. The club managers said they’d only been averaging 35 people a show and they didn’t even sell out on New Years Eve. During the show, when I asked where all the Facebookers where, I got a rousing response.
So the short answer is I don’t know if it works yet, but it seems like it does. I definitely get more feedback on my website and I have more people who know my name. The thing with Facebook is I’m friends with some comedians who I look up to and there have been times when I might be going somewhere , see that those comics are going there or have been there and I’ll drop them a note. This opens up a dialogue with a comedian that I’d otherwise never get to talk to. And that’s another way to spread your name. There’s certain comedians now who know who I am strictly because of Facebook.
Also, when I ran an open mic in Louisville, Kentucky I always got at least 10 people from Facebook to come out to the show. I know this because I’d post the info on people’s Facebook page and they’d have to print out the ticket to go to the show. The night before Thanksgiving we had 360 audience members.
3. What do you think about posting videos of your material online?
Overall, it’s good. It’s an excellent way to showcase yourself to fans and anyone who might be interested. People can get a taste of who you are. Bookers and club owners can also get a taste of who you are and what you do. Sometimes, I’m a little bit worried about other people taking those jokes. And once those jokes are out there, they’re pretty much done. You can still use them in your show, but if 25 people went to myMySpace page and they’ve seen my video and they hear the same jokes at the show, then you know… that’s not necessarily good.
4. How do you think digital tools will change comedy?
From a business stand point it makes it a lot easier to get in touch with people. Since I deal with comedy club bookers from across the country, it’s a lot easier to email them. It’s also nice that any comedy club I go to, I can go to their website and see who’s on their lineup, I can get their contact info. Before the internet, all you knew about a comedy club was what you heard other comics say. Now it definitely opens up the world. It makes it easier for comedians. I just picked up a headline week at a club in Michigan all through email. I sent him a link with my video and he sent me back an email with dates. That was the easiest thing in the world.
Back in the day, all comics had was telephones. Ever since I’ve been a road comic, I’ve had the internet. There’s still a lot of phone work, but I can’t imagine what it was like before the internet. When I first hit the road seven years ago, I had to send out tapes and DVDs. In the past two or three years it’s been a migration towards digital video and email. I’ve had clubs watch my link and ask for a full length DVD, and I’ll go ahead and send it, but now, almost everybody wants instant gratification. Here’s his video clip, is he funny? Wham, bam!
5. How much information do you tend to share on the social networks?
I usually have one liner jokes up there or I’ll tell them about the road. For example, on my drive from NYC, I left at 3:30am and I had 740 miles to go so I kept everybody updated as to where I was and what I was doing.
That’s another thing, I use Facebook to keep a photo road diary. I use my phone to take photos of stuff I find amusing on the road, and I send it to Facebook to an amusing album called “scenes from the road”. It’s just another way to promote myself. I just put up a photo of a gas station called “Kum and Go” and I have five comments already. Once someone looks at one picture, they usually look at others. It’s just another way to remind people of Danny Browning and what I’m doing. I do try to stay away from super personal stuff on the Facebook and use it as strictly a business tool.
6. What’s your weirdest online experience involving your comedy career?
One experience was a pain in the ass. I was working in Minnesota, and after the show my girl and I had an argument so I went out to a bar. Then I started taking pictures with these two girls. Nothing happened with them, I was just taking pictures, but they posted their pictures on MySpace, tagged me, and then it popped up and my girl saw it and it looked like I was really partying with these girls, which didn’t look good for me. I had a lot of talking to do to get out of that one.
7. Your website is a .biz instead of a .com, why is that?
When I first hit the road I was broke. I made $9,000 my first year on the road. I needed a website, .biz was $2.99 a year and .com was $9.99.
People have always told me I should change it to .com and I never have. I’ve grown to like the .biz. I’ve had a lot of people ask me about that before. When people Google me, my website is the first thing that pops up. That’s what’s important. So I’m not worried about people being able to find me. Between myspace, facebook and my website, if people want to find me online, they will.
8. You’ve been doing road work for 7 years, how has technology changed the road experience?
With all the traveling I do, it’s pretty convenient to go on the internet and find the map from where I’m going to where I need to be. The Tom Tom navigational system is the best thing a guy with my job can have. I didn’t have one when I started, I got one last year and I could’ve kicked myself in the ass for not getting one sooner. That should’ve been the first purchase I made. Satellite radio is nice to have in the car too.
There’s also no such thing as being off the grid anymore. With webcams you can see and talk to your significant other and family. Text messages, cell phone, Facebook, it’s a lot easier to stay in touch with people. And it’s a lot harder to hide from people…
9. Do you use an electronic press kit?
No but I’ve been told I should get one. I don’t know if they work or not. I know guys who use them who have been successful, and I’ve seen guys who do corporate events have an online press kit. I asked one booker, Eric Yoder at Funny Business Agency what he wanted to see on the screen, and he said he wants all the info right in front of him. He didn’t want to go through a lot to see who you were. He said, “the simpler the better.” So I always make a link to my video clip and a link to my website. Anything I would put in an EPK is either in the video or on the website.
I don’t think it’s a necessity but anything that makes you look more professional is good. To be a comedian, especially on the road, it’s all about professionalism. When you present yourself to a club or booker, when you get to the gig, when you tell your jokes. Be professional: do what you’re told, don’t get drunk and make an ass out of yourself. And be professional afterwards, a follow up with the booker or the club goes a long way. If an EPK can make you look more professional then do it.