“Fans, Friends and Followers” Quotes Part 1/2

I recently reviewed Fans, Friends and Followers by Scott Kirsner. I finally got around to typing up the quotes I found interesting enough to underline in the book.

“The more opportunities you create for fans to participate in your process, the more engaged and loyal you’ll find they become.” (6)

“When someone is getting their first taste of your work, you need to give them a reason – quickly – to dive in deeper. What you’re up to needs to be crystal clear, or so mysterious and bizarre that people can’t help but have their curiosity piqued.” (11)

“I’ve found that educational stuff can attract an audience. Share your techniques, and tell people about the software you’re using.” (13)

“One piece of advice for people is about consistency. A lot of people put out one thing and it’s really popular. They’re surprised, and they don’t have anything else to do. People really want consistent content. You can’t go three or four months without something new.“ -Michael Burns (40)

“The idea that we’re going to hit some sort of steady model is false hope. You’ve just got to keep moving. We’ve had forty business models in nine years. I don’t see it slowing down at all.” -Gregg and Evan Spiridellis (46)

“The Internet is a collection of communities. You need to create a community around your film. That will not happen if you keep things to yourself. You need to open yourself up, show your face, show your production, let people get inside. People do a lot of things when they get enthusiastic about something. They help the production, give money, or run into the streets and scream about your production. You need to allow people to do that. It’s an enormous viral force.” -Timo Vuorensola (47)

“You need to offer different monetization options for different customers. Some people watch it on the Web for twenty minutes and then want to buy the DVD. Some people watch the whole film on BitTorrent, but then want to support us by buying merchandise. We want to let you give us money in any way possible.” -Timo Vuorensola (48)

“The way I meet people and get most of my jobs is offering to help people.” -Steve Garfield (49)

“I email everybody back. I respond to everything. Think about regular TV shows. In that world, you’d never expect to get any sort of response.” -Steve Garfield (50)

“The audience votes with their ‘forward’ button. If they see a video that they think has something to say, they forward it. All the money in the world and all the kings horses can’t get them to do that.” -Robert Greenwald (52)

“We want to have 5,000 people who are video distributors – who understand that they are Paramount Studios, they are CBS. If they take our video and get it to 100 people, that’s hugely important.” -Robert Greenwald (53)

“As fast as someone becomes your fan, they can become someone posting everywhere and saying you suck. But if you respond to them, they become powerful. They’re like bees, spreading your message.” -M dot Strange (55)

How Do You Use Stand Up?

I’ve been thinking about Hugh’s comments regarding how art is used:

To me, the interesting thing about art is not the usual “Heroic, absinthe-soaked, vision quest lone individual archetypal artist crap”, but how the art is USED by the person who has it hanging on the wall. What’s it actually there for? Decoration? Showing off? A conversation starter? An ice breaker? A way of telling a story? Something to brighten up the room? A symbol of social status? An expression of individual worldview? An expression of emotion? A totem to remind oneself of something inspirational and/or important? Perhaps a bit of all these?

How would this viewpoint apply to stand up comedy? Do you use stand up when retelling a comic’s joke to your friend’s the next day? Do you want a take home souvenir after the show to put up on your wall to use as a conversation starter? Would you want a favorite comedian to send you a videotaped version of a joke personlized for your girlfriend’s birthday?

Thinking about making the stand up experience last longer than the show led to trying a visual representation of one of my jokes:

I think many of my jokes would lend themselves to a similar form, but is this something anyone wants?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you use stand up comedy… and feel free to discuss comedians not named Ben.

Comedy Barking Tips

When I started out in comedy, I did some barking. Being that I can be a nerd at times, I actually tried to google “comedy barking tips” and received no useful results (stupid dogs and barking tips). So as a service to all aspiring comedians who have to bark for stage time, here are some tips to achieve better results:

  • Remember it’s a numbers game and don’t be fazed by rejection.
  • You have 3-5 seconds for someone to hear you as they walk past you so state the offer as succinctly as possible.
  • Personalize the offer. I let people know that I was performing and earning stage time by standing outside. I feel this gives people a better reason to consider going to the show instead of if I was just trying to sell them something.
  • Make a joke. And try to have fun. Most people want to ignore you, so try to make people laugh, even if they don’t end up going to the show. If nothing else, this helps build your improv skills and your crowd work skills. For example, when really young looking pedestrians pass by, I mention that “most forms of fake ID are accepted.” When older women walk by, I’ll say “Look at me! I’m adorable… AND hysterical.”
  • If they make eye contact and laugh, walk with them a few feet and start talking to them. This works best if you make a little excuse like “it’s cold, I need some exercise” so they don’t think you’re gonna follow them for ten blocks (and you shouldn’t — if you can’t get them to stop to talk to you by the next crosswalk, let them go — no need to harass people)
  • Anchor the price by saying what the regular price is first and then tell them the discounted price that your flier provides.
  • Be nice and friendly, even if they aren’t gonna come to the show.
  • Try to walk them to the club so they don’t get distracted with some other activity.
  • Sometimes, if you just keep talking and talking and talking, they’ll decide to go.

As examples, here are some of the things I’ve been saying lately that tend to get laughs and conversations, even from the meanest looking people.

  • “Live comedy. I’m performing. If nobody shows up, I get beaten very badly.”
  • “Standup comedy. I’m performing. Last time nobody came, I was hit with a shovel.”
  • “I’m performing comedy. If you don’t go, I get water boarded.”
  • “Live comedy. I’m performing. Look how cute I am.”
  • “It’s lonely here, I need a hug.”

Have additional questions on this or other topics? Click here to learn about my mentoring services.

Other Comedy Tips:

  • 10 Steps to Become a Great MC
  • 3 Tips To Planning A Successful Comedy Show
  • Are Any Topics Off Limits?
  • Barking Tips
  • Clayton Fletcher: Auditioning Q&A
  • Clayton’s 7 Tips
  • Clayton: When To Become A Full Time Comedian
  • Comedy Economics
  • Dealing With Hecklers
  • Eleven Observations About The Comedy Business
  • Five Basic Improv Techniques
  • Five Tips For Your Comedy Event To Run Smoothly
  • Free Comedy Content Economics
  • Hi-Tech Comedy Interviews
  • How To Make Money In Comedy
  • How To Put Together A Great College Comedy Show
  • How To Record Your Own Comedy Album
  • How To Self Publish A Book Through Kickstarter
  • Interview with John Vorhaus
  • Intro to Improv
  • My Comedy Mindset
  • My Writing Process
  • Not Connecting With The Audience?
  • Organizing Jokes
  • Overcoming Stage Fright
  • Producing a Show: Getting Audience
  • Producing a Show: Running The Show
  • Producing a Show: The Comics
  • Producing a Show: The Venue
  • Road Work Tips from Danny Browning
  • Stealing Jokes – Ben's Thoughts
  • Ten Tips To Succeed During a Check Spot
  • The 8 Different Types of Comedy Audiences
  • The Pecking Order
  • Treat It Like a Job
  • Types of Shows for Beginners
  • Types of Spots
  • What To Do When Nobody Laughs
  • Why I Won’t Be a Pro Snowboarder
  • Your First Stand Up Performance
  • My Reaction To: Changing the Stand Up Game

    Via a great Tucker Max discussion topic and deli.cio.us, I came across a great article about changing the stand up comedy game that caused some interesting reactions in my head and gave me an idea:

    The Idea:

    Create a seperate video for each of my jokes, post it online, and have users rate my joke one by one. I would post one joke per day. And I would post different versions of the same joke as I rewrote them.

    If I can get enough people to vote, I’d promote and perform a “full comedy set as determined by the fans”. This could get really interesting if someone really hated me and had a big following, and then got his fans to vote for all of my worst jokes. It may be time to start making enemies.

    My reactions to the article:

    • Jay Schultz and I also had a similiar idea about a specialized social networking site for comedians and fans to learn about each other back in 2006. After basic research, we realized myspace, among other sites, already had a comedy section.
    • Char is right that young comics don’t want to post tons of their videos online, but I don’t think the reason he gives, that they are afraid of their material being stolen, is the number one reason.   

      The reason I hear most often is that young comics don’t want videos of themselves posted unless they kill the set. They’re afraid promoters, bookers and/or potential fans may see it and think they suck. They’d rather get booked by word of mouth than by having someone find a less than stellar performance.  I wrote about my theory before, but I haven’t been 100% committed to it in the past month. I’ve stopped posting EVERY performance online, and have become more selective. This article motivated me to start posting everything again. Anyone interested in standup should be able to follow my progression, mic by painful mic. In the interest of full disclosure, I do post my less than stellar videos on a different youtube account than I post my good stuff so that bad videos don’t show up in random search results. So unless you’re reading my blog, you won’t be able to find the bad videos via youtube search. I’m also thinking of creating a seperate youtube account for my joke by joke video voting above.

    • I can’t wait for the first time Dane Cook steals one of my jokes. I’ll take this as a sign of my progress as a writer and performer.
    • Is there a way to encourage two drink minimums before watching comedy on YouTube?
    • A lot of what he described is what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve just been focusing more on creating content (and getting funny) than on marketing and promoting my blog. I’m still undecided if I should start spending some of my time marketing and promoting, or worrying about that after I’m a more solid performer. Judy Carter’s The Comedy Bible says the 3 steps of comedy success are 1) Get Good 2) Get Noticed 3) Get Paid. Given Web 2.0, maybe this is no longer the case?

    Featured Fresh Pal on Fresh Pow

    So I occasionally read through the three times a day Help A Reporter Out emails to see if there’s any questions I can answer and be quoted for in books, articles or online. Yesterday, my girlfriend (yes I have one — long story short, I lost a game of rock paper scissor) sent me a link about a snowboarding interviews. Well I love snowboarding so I replied to the query. I received a questionnaire from Fresh Pow and now I’m featured on their front page. The permalink is here.

    The company creates custom made stickers for decorating your snowboards and skis, among other things. I’d totally order a custom sticker that had a picture of myself and a said BigBenComedy.com on it… anyone feel like designing a 3″x10″ or a 4″x6″ sticker for me?

    Photo of me snowboarding, I’m sorta legit