Hi-Tech Comedy: Eric Blake

Today I’m interviewing Eric Blake. A regular at BET’s Comic View, Eric Blake is regular headliner at comedy clubs across the nation, including: The Improv, The Comedy Store, and The Punchline. Eric has been selected to The Best of Comic View on BET for four consecutive years.

1. You don’t seem to have a domain name like EricBlake.com, any particular reason?

eric_blakeI had one, I had to let it go. It wasn’t doing anything for me at the time. I do own the domain though, there’s just no website on it. I’m not really trying to do stuff like that until I get my career to the point where I want it. I’m one of those comics that’s constantly on the road. One show, one day, and I’m up and gone the next, then I’m back home with my family and then out the next day. The website is just stuff I can’t concentrate on.

I focus on the people individually by going to towns. The people are the ones that control the business. That’s who industry can’t control. They can’t control who people like and who they want to go see. They can’t control the things that the people want to hear and support. That’s what I concentrate on. You can have your fan base in one place, but it’s about getting out there and getting seen and getting my DVDs in their hands. That’s how I do it, old school.

2. How are you using the internet / social media to promote your career?

I use twitter to get my name and my jokes out there. I try to get my voice heard. That’s what I use it for. I also use Facebook and everything in between. You gotta have all the media outlets that you can think of. I use MySpace to but really Facebook is my favorite. I like to interact and talk to people on there. Whenever I visit different countries, I always leave Facebook posts. I like to post about how McDonald’s are different in different countries.

3. Have you noticed the payoff yet?

Not really. I don’t really focus on those things. I just do it and let it go. Things like YouTube, I hear a lot of people toss my videos up there.  My DVD that I have out gets the most response. I try not to focus on those things too much, the online stuff doesn’t count unless you can put asses in seats; that’s what counts at the end of the day. You can never really gauge what’s happening until you put together a show and see how many people come out to see you.

4. What do you think about posting videos of your show online?

I hate it but I know it’s necessary. I hate it because every time I look up someone has a joke similar to mine. My wife just emailed something somebody emailed her about one of my jokes that was similar to some stuff that I wrote or have been performing for the past few years. And that pisses me off because it’s hard being original. You come up with a beautiful concept, beautiful jokes, I write and perform them, they become part of my act, and then you got ten comics doing the same thing you’re doing and you’re scratching your head with, “How did he come up with something so similar?” Then the dude sees you and is like, “You’re one of my favorite comedians, I’ve seen you on YouTube.” And you can’t really say anything cause he thinks the jokes are his. He thinks it’s okay to write a joke similar to yours and then perform it. It’s kinda hard but you know, you need the videos out there, you gotta get your stuff out there so the people can catch on. But it’s very hard for me.

5. How do you think digital tools will change comedy?

I think that it will make it harder for comedians to be original because with digital tools, videos get out there so fast that everybody gets wind of it, and if it’s really funny, it’s so easy to take. And next thing you know it’s not yours anymore. I think it’ll hurt comedy in some ways but maybe the younger comics can think of stuff faster. You gotta be more clever about how you put stuff out there and grow your fan base quicker. It helped some comics.

Some comics have blown up within a year just because of one joke. And one joke has gotten around and now this person is a mega star and they’ve only been doing comedy a year or two. As opposed to someone like me, that’s been doing it for thirteen years and is trying to be a real standup comedian. I don’t care how big you blow up, the truth is in the pudding. You blow up and go on the road and you can only do five or ten minutes and the audience has paid to see you do forty five minutes or an hour. Then you got a cocky feature blowing you off the stage. It all depends on how fast you develop yourself. You gotta do the work, get on stage and put the time in. I don’t care who you are or how fast you blow up, you gotta put the time in.

6. Do you think lots of comics used to have similar material but just didn’t know it, and now they see it quicker on the internet because there’s only so many concepts, or is comics stealing material?

I think it’s definitely harder to be original because comics pull from the same pool. You’re thinking in the same rhythm, that’s possible. 1-2-3 setup, punch. That’s the vehicle jokes are written in. But to come up with an original concept is a very hard thing to do. Something that you thought of personally, to say that another comic might’ve been doing that before you, is a very rare thing. By rare, I mean, the odds in that are really, really low because there are definitely so many concepts we can talk about. Anyone can do kids, relationships with wives or parents, those are general concepts that everybody has.

There are very few comics who can talk about selling drugs and making a lot of money or being on the streets when they were fifteen and dealing with crack addicts from a dealer’s perspective. And then dealing with life and the transition from big time drug dealer to comedian. Those are hard concepts to develop as a comedian, I learned to develop those and to take the things I know from my life and put them in a joke form. It took 5-6 years to develop a whole act about that. Then to see someone get on stage and do something similar when you can tell it’s not from the same perspective, but they’re trying to emulate what you’re saying because they’ve heard you say it. You can clearly see it, that is no mistake. You’ll know because that person will see you and walk up to you and tell you that you’re their inspiration. You see ten thousand Mitch Hedbergs that try to emulate him. That’s fine and beautiful, he was on his way to greatness and being a legend and he wasn’t here for that long. You see it in comics that emulate him. That’s okay, but to a comedian that’s still out there you can’t have the same style as Chris Tucker or Dave Chappelle, not just style but doing jokes like he does with his punches and concepts, you can never be you because Chappelle is Chappelle. I’m Blake. And the guys that emulate me, that’s fine, but wait til I’m gone! I don’t wanna see my jokes on TV before I can put them there. That’s the thing about comedy, we police ourselves.

7. How much information do you tend to share on the social networks?

A lot. The things that are off limits are my wife because she asked me not to, everything else, I’m an open book about. I share just about anything. Although at some point, my wife won’t have a choice.

8. What’s your weirdest online experience involving your comedy career?

This wasn’t really weird but inspiring. I had an email from a guy from when I was doing my drug thing, and he told me that I probably didn’t remember him, but years ago, I was a drug dealer in his town in Denver and he was like, “I remember you used to be this tough street cat, and one time you did something bad to someone in an altercation, but I saw you on TV and that inspired me.” When he heard I was a comedian and it inspired him to change. He decided if I could change, he could change, and he just wanted to thank me for that. He saw an interview with me about how I changed my life and he remembered that, and he went to the navy, enlisted, got out and he works with youth and kids now. And he just wanted to thank me. I thought that was kinda weird but also inspiring.

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