Hi-Tech Comedy: Josh Spector

Today I’m interviewing Josh Spector. Josh is the founder of ConnectedComedy and has spent the last 14 years working in comedy marketing, production, and content creation with an emphasis on digital platforms. Previously, Josh was a Senior Vice President of Content and Marketing for Comedy.com. He produced, booked, and marketed national branded standup comedy tours including the High Times Comedy Festival and the Vivid Comedy Party. Josh also consulted with New Line Cinema on marketing strategy for hit comedy films including The wedding CrashersSex and the City, and Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.

You’re in the business of helping comedians promote themselves. How did you get into this niche of marketing?

I’ve worked in some combination of marketing, content, entertainment, comedy, journalism, and digital for pretty much my whole career so it’s tough to say how it really started. But, back in 2006ish I launched a comedy blog called Whip It Out Comedy to showcase all the interesting stuff I was starting to see comics creating and posting online. In the process of doing that, I started to apply what I knew about marketing to the site and grew the traffic.

A couple years later, the site got acquired by a startup (Comedy.com) and I wound up running Content and Marketing for that site. Again, I learned a lot in growing the traffic for that site. I started to realize that I had a lot of knowledge about the marketing of comedy online and that there really wasn’t anybody else out there sharing that kind of expertise with the world, so I launched Connected Comedy to do just that about 4 years ago.

How are you using the internet / social media to promote your career? How are you using it to promote your clients? What kind of payoffs have you noticed?

While Connected Comedy initially started as just a blog and then grew into a full consulting business, a couple years ago I was approached to run digital media for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences which was an opportunity too good to pass up. So, for the past couple years Connected Comedy has really just been a side project for me and I don’t really have “clients.”

That said, I do occasionally consult with individual comics and it always tends to be different based on their individual goals, needs, and interests. It really has to start with having a clear goal and it’s amazing to me how often comics haven’t even really considered what their specific goals are – they know they want to have a career, or get famous, but they haven’t really thought through exactly what they want and why, let alone figure out a plan to get there.

It’s funny how many times a comic will ask me something like “How do I get more Facebook fans,” and then when I ask them why they want more Facebook fans and how they think that will help them achieve their goal they have no idea. I help them think through all that and figure out what really are going to be the most effective tools and strategies to get where they want to go – and a lot of times help them figure out where they want to go in the first place.

As far as using social media to promote my career, it’s important to mention that I’m not a comic and never have been. My expertise is in the marketing and business side of comedy and that’s what I focus on. That said, many of the things that I teach comics I’ve used myself to build Connected Comedy into a large community so I feel pretty confident that it works.

When you work with a comedian, how much of the marketing is online vs offline? Why?

It’s a combination. I think sometimes people get distracted by these online tools and forget that’s all they are – tools. All the online stuff is just something that creates an opportunity for you to reach a lot of people at virtually no cost. That creates incredible opportunities, but it doesn’t work if you’re not good.

Also, I think people can get so focused on the online marketing opportunities that they forget how easy/powerful some of the offline opportunities are. They’ll chase Likes and Retweets all day, but won’t ask the people that actually see them perform to join their email list. It’s kind of insane.

What do you think about comedians posting videos of their performances online?

There’s a lot more upside than downside. You don’t have to post video of every open mic you do and there’s no reason to post bad video of yourself online, but once you get to a certain point it’s crazy not to post video of yourself online. You want to be discovered, you want people to be able to find you. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world – not posting videos on there is the equivalent of telling Google to pretend you don’t exist.

How do you think digital tools have changed comedy? How do you think they will change comedy in the future?

I think they’ve completely changed the comedy industry and it’s amazing how many comics don’t want to admit it. Especially guys that are about a decade in right now – they came up when the game was played a certain way and expected to reap the rewards now of the time they’ve put in. But, right before it became “their time,” the whole industry got flipped upside down and everything’s changed.

I think we’re in the process of shifting to a comedy world where it’s really all about a comic’s ability to build their own fanbase and that the “gatekeepers” are increasingly looking to find people with existing fanbases as opposed to looking for comics that they think they can build fanbases for. That’s a huge shift and it’s really shaking a lot of things up.

What do you think about the movement to “one screen.” (Where it no longer matters if content is consumed via TV, phone or tablet.) How will this affect comedy?

All of the technological advances lead to the same thing in my opinion – more opportunities, but also a need for comics to be more entrepreneurial and more creative. There used to be a relatively straightforward path to a comedy career – work your way up through the clubs, get late night TV spots, get specials, get a sitcom, etc.

Now, you have careers getting launched from all over the place – YouTube, podcasts, Vine, Twitter, etc. in addition to the more traditional routes of clubs, sitcoms, etc. It’s a really interesting time, but also one that can be very frustrating for comics because of the lack of clarity of path.

You have a podcast, Connected Comedy. Why’d you decide to start it? How has that helped the rest of the business?

It actually evolved naturally out of the community. Several Connected Comedy readers from across the country – including Jordan Cooper, Josh Homer, and Chelcie Rice – approached me with the idea and agreed to help produce it. Lately, we haven’t put out episodes as consistently as we should, but it’s been a great platform to reach a new audience and educate/entertain them in a different way.

It’s not really directly related to the “business” of Connected Comedy other than the fact that anything that’s good for the community is ultimately good for the business in some way.

How much information do you think comedians should share on the social networks?

It all depends on their goals. But what I think is most important is that they have a strategy for what they’re doing on social networks and what they’re trying to accomplish. It’s not about whether you share a lot or a little, it’s about understanding why you’re sharing what you’re sharing and what you hope to accomplish with it.

You produced a tour “Vivid Comedy Party” which combined comedians with porn stars. How’d that come about? Is this an example of a niche show that would’ve been harder to pull off before the internet?

I had a production company with a partner and we were working to develop some comedy movies with High Times magazine. Then I had the idea to launch a High Times comedy tour and it worked well. That got me thinking that we could do something similar with other niche brands because people would come to the shows based on the niche theme – even if they didn’t know the actual comics performing. So we approached Vivid, and launched the show.

It really wasn’t tied into the Internet at all, it was more a general marketing strategy. This was also happening in the early MySpace days so it was a very different social media environment. I think now something similar to this could probably be exponentially more successful thanks to the rise of social media in the past few years and the ability to find/connect with those niche audiences online.

I recently made an observation to a comedian friend of mine that, “It’s 10x easier to make comedy, 100x harder to get noticed, and 1000x harder to get paid.” What are your thoughts on this?

Not sure I agree with that. I’ll say this: It’s just as hard as ever to make GOOD comedy. It’s a million times EASIER to get noticed because the Internet has connected the world. and you’re competing with 1,000x as many people to get paid so you better be awesome.

What ís your weirdest online experience involving your comedy promotion career?

I’ll give you a non-comedy example. No matter how much you know, you never know for sure what’s going to happen on the Internet and what’s going to catch on. The most successful thing I’ve ever posted might be something that I never actually promoted at all – it’s this video of a Taiwanese bank commercial that I posted on my personal site and wound up driving 2 million people to my site. Here’s the story behind that.

Opportunities are created on the Internet by doing things consistently – most comics give up too quickly and that’s why most comics fail to get much out of what they do online.

Hi-Tech Comedy: Andrew Ginsburg

Today I’m interviewing Andrew Ginsburg, an NYC-based Comedian, Champion Bodybuilder and Certified Fitness Trainer. Andrew has been on “The View,” “Saturday Night Live,” “The Sopranos,“ “All My Children,” “As The World Turns,” “The Guiding Light” and “One Life to Live.” You have also heard Andrew on Sirius/XM’s “Laugh Attack,” “Hey, Get Off My Lawn” and Martha Stewart Living Radio.


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

I use Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. My blog has become a good way to get new fans because it’s a comedic fitness blog that’s reaching a pretty good audience and growing. I use the blog to get followers and to promote my comedy album, “Eat the Yolk”.

2. Your new album just hit the iTunes Comedy top 10, what was the marketing strategy behind it?

Andrea at Pink Room Records has been working hard; we’ve been doing combinations of direct-to-fan, digital, radio, and traditional promotions. We made these cool short stop-motion video teasers that hit the web before the album came out. The album release show was at Carolines on Broadway in NYC. I sent emails to everyone that I’ve ever met at a show that I had an email address for, making sure everyone knew I had the album.

3. How has the internet and marketing strategy changed from your Pumping Irony CD in 2012 to your new release Eat The Yolk in 2014?

I didn’t have a fitness blog back then, so I had way less people aware of my work in fitness and comedy. The blog bridged that gap. Just having a product that has merit and is funny. I didn’t really have a voice in Pumping Irony, I was all over the place, searching, when I started writing with Paul DeLesDernier he helped me narrow the playing field and said, “this is what you know, fitness and family, it should be your subjects.” This album is fitness and family.

As far as strategy, just using those platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. If you have something you’re proud of; you’re more excited to sell it.

4. Do people still buy physical CDs or is it all digital now?

People buy physical CDs. At Carolines, I sold a lot of physical copies, and I did a show this past weekend in Albany and sold some more. If you do a good show, people want the physical copy as a memento. I was surprised that people still buy physical albums, but they do.

5a. You’ve found a tie-in audience base with being a personal trainer and market towards people who are into fitness. Was this accidental?

No, because the gym is really a funny place. It’s a bizarre world. Everyone’s neuroses are on display on this heavily mirrored, open floor. Endorphins are pumping, music is blasting, and a lot of relationships begin in gyms. You’re on these crazy, robotic cardio machines; it’s just a funny environment. And, my clients are hilarious.

5b. How would you recommend other comedians find their audience?

Get in front every audience you can. See who’s laughing. Then see who’s coming to the shows; get to know them.

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

I don’t like to because it’s just giving people free content. Why do you wanna go to a show if you already have the act on YouTube? I know lots of comedians who just put their set right up on YouTube and it’s like okay, great, I don’t need to see him anymore. I’ll put clips online, 2-3 minutes tops. It’s like a girl giving it up on the first date; it’s too much.  Give me a little and I’ll come back for more.

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

When I was in college, we didn’t have iTunes. We still used CDs. I’d buy Bobby Slayton’s album at his show; I couldn’t download it. I saw an HBO interview with Louis CK and he said his whole world is on his laptop.  Before it was cassette tapes and it’s just so easy now. I know people who have gotten on late night TV by submitting a video through email. You couldn’t do that before, you needed people to come to your show or get a recording that takes physical labor. Online, it’s just one click.

I think technology in general will make people less inclined to get off their couch. I myself rarely go out unless its special or I’m in debt to a friend. You can do everything at home. You have Amazon Prime, Netflix, cable, food from Seamless, and if we didn’t have to use the bathroom, we’d never get up.  I think people will leave their homes a lot less as the years go on and obesity rates will sky rocket.

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

I keep my relationships private. People will post on Facebook “Jane Lefkowitz is in a relationship” then she’s single two weeks later. You’re either married or don’t post anything. I keep it strictly to comedy and getting people to come to shows. I don’t want to give too many details of my life. Plus, nobody cares. Nobody cares what I’m eating for dinner or what half marathon I’m running over the weekend.

9. The Panhandler Party sketch has nearly 2 million views, how’d that happen?

My friend Gary Lee Mahmoud, a really talented actor and comedian came up with the idea for the sketch, he’d been wanting to do it for a while. He uploaded it on YouTube and it just went crazy. We never thought it would turn into this. It got passed around. I thought it was so well organized and everything had to be done perfectly or it would be obvious that it was a spoof. People bought into it. There was very little script, it was 80% improvised, he basically said “you’re a wall street dick, go piss off the subway car,” and it was the most fun gig I’ve ever had. It went viral and got on College Humor and Gawker and then the Daily News covered it because it was the first real panhandler thing. And everyone could relate. It started a few other homeless sketches that I won’t say copied, but borrowed from our sketch.

10. What is your weirdest online experience involving your comedy career?

I was hate blogged. I was published in the New York Times in the “Metropolitan Diary” section. I wrote a funny piece about being mugged in NYC. As with anything, you’re gonna piss someone off and anyone who has a hate blog, I don’t wanna hang out with anyway. I got accused of being racist; they called me a “short, nebbishy Jew.” They pictured me as looking like Woody Allen. They linked my mugging piece to the Trayvon Martin thing somehow. I constantly wonder if it was an ex-girlfriend. Although, there were a lot of spelling errors and most of the women I dated were well educated, unless they did the spelling errors as a cover.


Hi-Tech Comedy: Erikka Innes

Photo Credit: Kevin Giffin
Photo Credit: Kevin Giffin

Today I’m interviewing Erikka Innes, a nationally touring comedian, award-winning writer and Commander of the Nerd Legion. Her twitter handle @nerdgirlcomedy is recommended by the San Francisco Weekly as a top choice to follow if you like to laugh. Her tweets have been featured in the Huffington Post, NY Post, and Washington Times. Her new album “Smells Like Nerd Spirit” is available on iTunes.

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

I like using it to find new fans and stay in touch with existing ones. It’s great to be able to joke around with people on facebook and twitter. Some people have been with me since the very beginning when I had barely 1,000 followers on twitter.

2. Have you noticed the payoff yet?

Yes – it’s made all kinds of people more aware of me.

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

I like uploading a set with a private link that can be sent to bookers or other interested parties. Sometimes I will post a publicly available clip from my comedy, but I do this sparingly. You want people to know what they’ll see if they come to your show, but you don’t want to give everything away. Also, if you want to make an album or DVD, posting a set with material from it isn’t a great idea since it’s no longer fresh to your fans.

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

Digital tools make it easier to reach people all over the world. They also make it easier to create and distribute your own products like an album. I am a big fan of DIY.

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

My general goal is to try to be engaging, funny, and find out what other people are doing that’s engaging or funny. Mix up the three, and you’re doing fine with what you’re sharing. I try avoid things that don’t fit one of these three categories. I don’t avoid anything specifically, unless I can’t think of a way to make it fun.

6. What is your weirdest online experience involving your comedy career?

Once I wrote that the song “Steal My Sunshine” by Len was a good song to cut yourself to. Twitter found that really funny, but my favorite part was when the actual band Len favorited my tweet. I like the song “Steal My Sunshine” so I was glad they were amused instead of annoyed.

Other stuff that’s happened is less weird and more cool – once I posted about liking the comic book series “Pinocchio Vampire Slayer.” The author of the books wrote back on twitter and sent me a free autographed copy of their latest book. I was on cloud nine for days over that. I love those books.

7. In addition to performing, I see you produce shows and tours. As far as online goes, what are the differences between promoting a show/tour and yourself?

When you promote, you focus on ways to reach your audience. You focus on how you want to present what you are selling to make it appealing. If it’s a tour, you focus on what the tour is about, and if it is for yourself, you focus on what you are about. How much or how little the two overlap depends on the tour.

8. You just released a new album, are you printing physical copies too, or only doing digital release via iTunes, etc. Why?

I do both physical copies and a digital release. Physical copies are great because you can be booked on a show that doesn’t pay, and walk away with your own pay because you’ve sold some albums. It’s a great way for people to support your art. Digital copies are great for reaching fans that are far away.

9. You’ve written for multiple newspaper, what do you think will happen to newspapers in another ten years?

Newspapers are moving online. Over time in print papers will disappear and online or electronic media will be what is available.



Hi-Tech Comedy: Rob Durham

Today I’m interviewing Rob Durham. Comedian and author of the book “Don’t Wear Shorts On Stage.” Rob has built an act that he prides on originality and his unique point of view. He has been praised by many of the business’s big names whom he has worked with. From Bob Saget calling him “Freaking Hilarious” to Louie Anderson’s written claim of “Very Funny!”, his material is respected by all who hear it. With a smile that says I didn’t get my braces off until I was 27, Rob’s innocent look helps him vent about his other career as an English teacher, his horrible dating history, his wonderfully spunky wife, and other near death experiences.
RobDurhamColorheadshot1. You wrote a book “Don’t Wear Shorts On Stage” and have a blog by the same name. How helpful is having a blog as far as selling a book goes?  
Having a blog is the #1 recommendation for anyone trying to sell nonfiction.  A blog taught me that!  I realized that I was still learning something new about comedy every month, but I had to finish the book.  The blog is a nice way to cover other topics that are still coming up.  It’s received close to 20,000 hits and has links to purchase my book.  I can also see all of the weird Google searches that have accidentally brought people there.  I’d like to think a few of them made purchases as well.
2. Your book is self published. What was that process like?
I was lucky to have some good help as far as an editor and a cover artist.  My brother, Dave Durham, designed the cover and took the picture (those are even his legs).  The other part which I would’ve never been able to do, was transfer my Word document into actual book pages.  That takes somewhat expensive software and know-how so I left all that to my editor.  Other than that I used CreateSpace and they had 24 hour assistance.  They’re by far the best route to go for self-publishing.  Other than that, a lot of great advice in on the message boards from other authors.
3. Do you think there will come a day when physical books no longer exist?
Not completely, but if you look at music, CDs and albums are endangered.  Kids used to ask, “What’s a record?”  I’ve heard a few jokingly ask, “What’s a CD?”  It will happen when the publishers are ready for it to happen.  I’m all for it because the e-book version of “Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage” is $7 cheaper than a paperback, but I still make more from each ebook sale.  Oh, and trees are important too.  Once the classrooms replace physical books, that generation will phase most of them out completely in first world countries.
4. You made a separate website/domain name for the book versus for yourself as a performer. What’s your thinking behind that?
The book’s website is technically just an advice blog that links to my comedy website.  My comedy website isn’t the right format for a blog but it’s been around since 2004.  A lot of club owners still appreciate it when a comedian has a full website, with schedule, available.  Club managers aren’t going to go to the trouble of adding comics as Facebook friends to find out who they are.  The advice blog gets a lot more hits now, but I like to keep it simple and not too much about me.
5. How has technology changed the comedy business since you started?
After a few years as an opener I made a bunch of VHS tapes and sent them to clubs only to find out that they wanted DVDs.  After I got DVDs made of some sets it went to online.  Having clips online is probably the biggest advantage for comics trying to get more work.  The problem is that everyone can do it now, so bookers’ inboxes are just as flooded as the corner of their office used to be with envelopes.  Self-promo is another evolving aspect.  I always laugh when I see professional looking, over the top posters for an open mic that no one is going to attend.  Still, if someone is funny enough, word will spread much easier because of technology.  And while it can even be a shortcut to short term success, the importance of being funny eventually catches up.
6. What do you think comedy will be like in ten years (as far as technological changes go)?
I think we’ll see a rise in more younger comics having sets online.  They have access to so many more types of standup that they’ll be more likely to find an inspiration.  While we all grew up watching the same three HBO specials for the entire 1980s, kids today can learn from thousands of comedians online.
I also think that shock humor will bottom out.  You can only joke about domestic violence, rape, and abortion in so many ways, right?  The average person isn’t nearly as shocked.  I also think with the shorter attention spans that even some of the best comics will only need 15-20 solid minutes to make a name for themselves.  Who’s going to watch the same thing for more than 8 minutes by 2023?
The real question will be, how can we still make money with online comedy?  Sure Louis C.K. did that $5 thing, but those eventually get bootlegged and not everyone is good enough to get people to shell out money for their act.  Comedy isn’t done justice unless it’s live.  I really hope technology doesn’t ruin comedy (and by that I mean our ability to still make money).
7. How are you using the internet / social media to promote your career?  
It’s pretty much all promotion for the book.  I’ll mention if I have shows coming up in a certain town on Facebook, but anyone that wants to see me probably already has.  With the book, I had to disguise the promotion as the advice blog, otherwise it would be one long timeline of “buy my book dammit!”
8. Have you noticed the payoff yet?
Yes.  Without Facebook and my blog my book sales would probably be limited to what I sell after shows.  Every month I sell books via amazon to people I don’t know.  I’m even getting sales from Amazon Europe which feels pretty cool.  I finally got my ebook into a version I can sell to Kindle’s straight from Amazon and it’s really making a difference in the numbers.
Technology has paid off.  As far as the whole payoff for the effort of writing a book…that happened when I got hired as an English teacher (I brought the book to the interview).
9. What do you think about posting videos of your show online?
I get this question a lot so I put it in the blog awhile.  It all depends on what level you’re at.  I don’t think it will make or break anyone’s career (other than a few exceptions like Bo Burnham).  I had to take my youtube videos down because my freshmen students found them on the third day of school.  I guess I should put up some 100% squeaky clean clips.  I really don’t think it matters because club managers don’t randomly look around for new acts on youtube.
10. How do you think digital tools will change comedy?
Our headshots will all look much prettier!  Comics can dub in laughter for their recordings.  In other words, we’ll all pretty much use them as ways to cheat.
11. How much information do you tend to share on the social networks?
I try to make most of my posts “amusing.”  I have hundreds of pictures, like most people, and of course the promo (which I also try to make amusing).  I can’t believe how socially unaware people are when they air their dirty laundry and cries for help.  It makes me really glad Facebook wasn’t around when I was a young lad or everyone on the internet would’ve been exposed to my sorry-ass attempts at poetry.
12. What’s your weirdest online experience involving your comedy career?  
In February of 2012 Marc Maron tweeted “Who is @RobDurhamComedy to tell comics how to do comedy?”  to his 100,000+ followers.  I consulted some of my mentors and they said to handle it with him, but not on Twitter.  A few people piled on, including some comics I didn’t know had anything against me, but it resulted in a record day for my blog (not to mention some extra book sales).  The biggest question was “how the hell did he hear about my book?”  It turns out in was a misunderstanding with a local open-mic comic who wrote Maron a nasty letter about me.  I sent Marc a book and a letter explaining who I was and never heard back of course.  He gets in a lot of internet fights.  The funniest (and maybe saddest) part was the local online paper writing a big article about a Tweet.  It’s all water under the bridge with the local comic who I’m now friends with.  I would love to open for Maron some day just so we could laugh about it.  Honestly, I haven’t heard one negative review by anyone who’s actually read my book.  There’s been backlash about the blog, but what people need to remember is that I’m offering advice for those who want to make a living doing stand-up.  They can defy the suggestions I give and make it tougher to earn money.
13. Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Technology is a huge tool for standup but it’s not a shortcut.  All of the things that involve technology and comedy need to be prioritized BEHIND writing jokes.  Why spend 2 hours making a poster for a show that won’t be entertaining?  You can make yourself look like a pro online, but once it comes to stage time, the truth will come out.

Interview with John Vorhaus

Today I’m honored to interview John Vorhaus about his latest book, “How To Write Good” as well as some other topics. John Vorhaus is the author of the classic comedy writing textbook, The Comic Toolbox: How To Be Funny Even If You’re Not. Of all his novels, Lucy in the Sky is his favorite. When not writing novels and non-fiction, he travels the world, teaching and training writers – 29 countries on five continents at last count.

What are the biggest differences between your new book “How To Write Good” and older, “how to write” guides like Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, etc?
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Mine has many fewer words, some of them invented. Seriously, I’m not sure that the differences are as important as the similarities. A wise teacher once told me, “The ocean is blue and it’s also wet,” by which she meant that you can learn something from everyone, even if it’s on a topic you know very well. I would expect that people reading How to Write Good (HTWG) will find some of the concepts resonant of other writing books they’ve read. However, since writers, like all artists, constantly need to “keep revelation alive,” it’s useful to have a steady stream of blew, wet, salty, deep, turbulent, fish-filled, mysterious oceans.

This is your second ebook (also see The Little Book of the Sitcom), will you ever publish a physical book again?

Yes. The third Radar Hoverlander novel, The Texas Twist, is due out from Prospect Park Books in June, in both ebook and dead tree format. Also, like LBOS, HTWG is available in print format for those who desire it.

While your book felt targeted at how to write a novel, I could see the applicability for all other sorts of writing. Was this intentional?

Yes. It’s hard to write a book on writing that covers all possible writing ground. Having written extensively about TV and film scriptwriting, and being now a working novelist, I thought I would put the emphasis on short-form and long-form prose; however, I take pains to point out that the tools I offer can be used by writers of everything from limericks to philosophy tomes. Indeed, I would hope that creators in whole other genres (artists, musicians, filmmakers) could get something out of my whimsical approach to creativity.

You talk about focusing on the process and ignoring the payoffs as one way to avoid paralysis. In your early career, how long were you focused on process until you started to see some payoff?

I would say I still am. I mean, I got a payoff, of a sort, the first time I went onstage as a singer/songwriter at an open mic night. Well, I got praise and a few bucks in a tip jar. Is that a payoff? I wrote three or four sitcom spec scripts before I started drawing work from that field. I wrote two and a half novels before I sold one. But throughout – from that day to this – I focus solely on “the words on the page.” It’s the only part of the process I can truly control, and if I let my mind wander to the parts I can’t control, well, despair sets in and nothing gets done.

But the point I would make to, especially, young writers is, “You have no idea how much time you have and how much real work you’ll get done.” Life is long. Your body of work will sustain you.

What’s your next book going to be about?

The Texas Twist revisits world-class con artist Radar Hoverlander and his band of merry scamsters as the work some rich veins of available cash in Texas and the Midwest. Everything goes great until an űber-con artist gets them in his sights…

From our previous interview, you mentioned “I can afford to sell small amounts of many products” this reminds me of the 1,000 true fans rule. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think the number of true fans necessary to sustain a career differ significantly based on the specific career (book author vs stand up performer vs musician, etc)?

I have no idea how to comment intelligently on that question. My business model has always been, “Go off in all directions at once. You’re sure to arrive somewhere.” With that in mind, I really don’t think about 1,000 true fans or any other arbitrary number. I just keep writing and keep trying to make people aware of my work. The rest, I trust, will take care of itself. I consider myself a pretty good promoter, but I’m crap at analytics. I couldn’t tell you definitively how many copies of anything I’ve sold. I just don’t care. I want a large enough audience to sustain my efforts, but I have no idea how to grow that audience beyond “keep on keepin’ on.”

What’s the biggest difference in comedy writing between today and when you started? What’s the biggest difference in writing in general (doesn’t have to be comedy)?

Technology. When I was coming up, the tools for making my own comic videos or films were prohibitively expensive, and the tools for distributing them were nonexistent. Now, thanks to cheap video cameras and editing software, plus the internet, anyone who wants to create can create. It’s much easier these days to “throw it out the window and see if it lands.” At the same time, the explosion of creative output has driven the perceived value of content way down. With millions of writers (not just comic writers) willing to give their content away for free, it gets harder and harder to make the argument that content should be paid for, and paid for at a premium.

Another big difference for “writing in general” is how much easier it is to do research now. I’ve written novels about cities I’ve never lived in, or even visited, but feel that I’m conveying an authentic sense of space, just because I have so much access to information about places I’ve never been.

Anything else readers should know?

People who find their way into my body of work are surprised to discover how eclectic it is. I’ve written comic novels and serious ones; how-to books on writing and creativity; and more than two million words on poker. I would just invite your readers to brows my Amazon author page. They’re bound to find something they like. Oh, and blah-blah-blah twitter @TrueFactBarFact.

Also, I mentioned earlier that my business model is “go off in all directions at once.” Actually I have another one that I like better: “Walk down the beach, pick up everything you find, turn it into a party hat.” That’s kind of what I was getting at in HTWG: The most important part of the writing process is to have fun with it so you’ll be motivated to keep after it. This world of ours contains so many blessed party hats that there’s really no reason for anyone to exist in any state other than pure bliss. I hope that HTWG will help writers, especially new writers, discover how easy and fun it is to have an effective, growing, thriving, active practice of writing.


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