Hi-Tech Comedy: Jeff Civillico

Today I’m interviewing Jeff Civillico. Although Jeff is now technically a Las Vegas headliner with the show “Amazed,” you won’t recognize him as he is yet to become famous or even moderately well-known. You have not seen him on The Tonight Show or Comedy Central, but you may have seen him at the post office or Target.  He is currently holder of the least-used Georgetown degree in school history.  For more info on Jeff and his corporate and college shows, please visit his site.

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

Well, I have JeffCivillico.com as a splash page that links to my 2 separate sites – one for corporates and one for colleges. I created targeted promo for the two different markets I mainly work.

Also, I’m very active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace, etc.  I’m always sending out where I’ll be performing and keeping in touch with fans from past shows. I have 15,000+ Twitter followers and I’m maxed out on my Facebook page. A couple years ago, fans from past shows would correspond with me via email. Now, it’s almost all done exclusively through sites like Facebook and Twitter.  It’s a different way of interacting.  I get a ton of wall posts and direct messages.

2. Have you noticed the payoff yet?

Yes, I am seeing a big increase in my bookings from separating my two sites. Corporate event planners and producers want to see someone who’s clean cut, wears a shirt and tie, and speaks intelligently and articulately. College kids want to see someone in jeans and t-shirt that looks like them. Same material pretty much, but a different style.  It makes sense when you think about it – people want to connect with the person they see on stage.

Neither my college site or corporate site link to the other.  That way when my manager is pitching me for a corporate show, he sends them to JeffOnStage.  If he were submitting me for a college showcase, he would send them to the college site.  Of course if they Google me they’ll find both sites, but doing this at least allows for some separation.

3. You’ve published articles in differently themed magazines (online and print) that focus on parenting, business and technology. Have you noticed a response from that?

I really don’t believe in “one for one” thinking. I think too many entertainers are looking for payoffs from specific actions like doing one showcase, going to one conference, reading one book, etc.  That’s not how it works.  I’m a big fan of the Johnny Carson philosophy.  When people asked him how he became so successful, he said “My success just evolved from working hard at the business at hand each day.”

Back to the articles…so yea, I’ve never had someone call me up and say, “Hey I just read your article on planning a memorable event—I’d like to pay you 5k to perform for our company!” That’s not what I’m attempting to achieve by writing articles.  It’s about positioning yourself as an authority. And I believe being published helps establish that presence in the market.  It all contributes to who you are, your brand, your development as a performer and a business person. It’s consistent work over time.

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

I understand why some entertainers don’t put any of their work online, but that’s just not my philosophy.  I’m an open guy.  Sure you’re gonna get burned sometimes when somebody swipes some material, but I feel if you’re always charging forward creating new content, people will always be playing catchup.  That being said, I wouldn’t post my entire show online… I don’t really see the point in that.  I post teasers just to get bookers to bite and then I send them more info directly.

There’s also the idea that if you’re creating your content, it’s naturally going to be done with your style, energy, and voice. That can’t be duplicated.

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

It’ll change comedy just like it’s changing all of entertainment, and many other industries as well. The gatekeepers are pretty much gone now. You can do it yourself, and people now expect you to do it yourself.  You don’t need a film or production company to buy into who you are and give you the tools to make videos.  Video editing is user-friendly now.  So is web design.  Social media is free.  Blogging is free.  It’s cheesy to say, but you honestly can let the world know who you are pretty easily now.

It takes time and energy of course, so the lazy guys aren’t gonna do very well as the mediums continue to grow and change. You gotta keep up or you’re going to become irrelevant.  Every so often I hear guys saying, “I’m not really into the internet thing… I don’t do computers… I’m not a tech guy.” That means you’re gonna be a not working guy! You don’t have to be a tech guru (I’m certainly not)… but you need to recognize the importance of it in growing your performing business.  If internet marketing is not your thing, outsource it.

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

I always post my performances, where I’ll be, new stuff I’m doing, newsletters and announcements. I try to keep really personal stuff off there.  I like to maintain a level of privacy with my inner circle of close friends and fam.

I think you have to be careful. A lot of performers don’t realize when they post online, they are posting it to the world. I know guys who have lost gigs on cruise line or for companies with family reputations because of cursing and pictures on their profiles.  As everybody knows, gossip spreads like wildfire online.

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

I’ve had weirdos and creepers who write some pretty inappropriate or just bizarre comments on my wall. I’ve had to unfriend some people because of that. I try to keep a professional reputation and some people just don’t understand that.  They don’t realize that I’m friends with past and future clients, speakers bureaus and other performers, etc.  I don’t know if there’s one particularly crazy experience, but this idea comes up on a regular basis.

8. Any other thoughts?

I guess regarding the use of technology with comedy you just have to find the balance that you are comfortable with—both creatively and on the business side as well.  If you don’t put yourself out there at all, nobody will know who you are or what you do.  That’s not good.  If you are constantly tweeting and blogging about your clips and travels, you’re not developing yourself as a performer… and that’s not good.

Find the right balance, develop your philosophy, and stick to it!

3 Responses to “Hi-Tech Comedy: Jeff Civillico”

  1. Andrew Smith says:

    Another excellent interview. Please keep them coming! I checked out his website and he’s a juggler too, he must have a pretty unique act.

  2. Kat Barker says:

    What a well spoken intelligent comedian/juggler! Impressive!

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