Hi-Tech Comedy: Jonesy

Today I’m interviewing Chris “Jonesy” Jones.  Jonesy is a New York City based actor/comedian/writer/musician with a mild acquaintance with technology. His viral videos have received hundreds of thousands of views. He runs a Friday night comedy show in the East Village and sings in a Red Hot Chili Pepper cover band. You can find out more about him at www.funnyjones.com

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

I have my own site www.funnyjones.com, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and a whole potpourri of video hosting sites. I also use a web-based mass email subscription service called Fanbridge.com  that allows me to send thousands of emails at once.

2. Have you noticed the payoff yet?

I depends on what your definition of payoff is. Has my website or myspace garnered a following a la Dane Cook? Definitely not. Have I made money off my web presence? Not much. My site (s) act as a sort of business card for me in that one can go there, see what I do, and contact me if they need to. In that sense it has been helpful and, I feel, completely necessary for every performer/artist. I find that most of the people that have been to my site (s) have enjoyed my videos – not of standup – but my comedic sketch videos.  I have used the social networks Myspace and Facebook to get people out to my Friday night comedy show at Eastville Comedy Club and that has paid off a little, not quite as effective as I’d hoped it owuld be.

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

I don’t really think it’s a good idea to post ENTIRE sets per se, but there should be some sample of what it is you do if you’re trying to build a following or obtain work as a comedian.  Lately I have posted a couple short videos of jokes I’ve told on stage, called “Under a Minute Standup”, and I’ve found their much better recieved because the viewers are only commited to under a minute – a perfect length in my opinion for viewing standup online.  I’ve even Twittered Tiny Url’s – links to these videos, and posted them on Facebook.

Ben, you and I have talked about this issue in the past and I’ve expressed that I believe that it isn’t that smart to post videos of your standup if you aren’t a somewhat polished comic. I’ve booked some first timers on my show and I’ve seen them immediately put up an entire 8 minute video of themselves performing an under-developed act.  I mean this is fine if it’s not going to be a CAREER for you, some guys just do it for fun only and post a video of it in an un-serious way so Mom can watch it. But if this is a career choice then I think you need to think about not releasing the product until it’s in some sort of professionally acceptable shape, and even then I recommend small chunks of no more than two minutes. If it’s a Live at Gotham or a Conan set then obviously put the whole thing up.

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

Digital tools and comedy are very vague terms. One could talk about this all day. I will just suggest two things that I canl see in the world of STANDUP. Perhaps we may see a little streaming of live shows via web video. I also think we will see more usage of video tools WITHIN the standup act as the younger generations of standup spectators become bored with a talking head on stage. This could be in the form of video and audio or even web participation or webcam participation from satellite viewers or even other performers. I’m just throwing ideas against the wall here of course. At that point I don’t even know if we would even call it STANDUP per se, so maybe I can see digital assistance transforming standup into some technological hybrid performance.

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

Because of the private (relatively speaking) aspects of Facebook I will share more information than I have on any prior social network.  I will occassionally utilize Twitter and Facebook to anounce a show. (I also use FB’s “Event Invitations”) but I normally won’t post what I feel are mundane anouncements about my daily comings and goings unless I think they will get a laugh.  “Went to pick up the kids” I think is a completely dull mis-use of Twitter and/or Facebook status updates. “Just played double-dutch with a crack-head in Harlem”, on the other hand… pretty damn funny. People would enjoy reading that, I feel.

6. Have you ever gotten laid by a fan from your facebook?

Once in Boston (I’m originally from Mass.) I did a show at a very popular downtown venue. The show wasn’t over more than a half hour when a text message from a girl who had been in attendance at the show – a sailor actually (a female Navy Officer) – she’d gone to my site and retreived my cell number ( I no longer make my # available on my site) and texted me asking me where I was and if she could come and meet me for a drink. She did. I later asked her to take me onto her ship but she told me civilians weren’t allowed so I settlled for making out in the doorway of some closed fish market.

Hi-Tech Comedy: Aaron Haber

This week I’m honored to interview Aaron Haber. 

aaron haber

Aaron was trained in improv comedy by the legendary Del Close and studied, performed and taught improv in Chicago for a while before missing his hometown NYC. Once back in NYC, he took a break from improv and started performing Stand-Up Comedy.  Aaron has since appeared on Comedy Central’s The Watch List as well as taped sets for Comedynet and National Lampoon.  In addition to performing stand up comedy, Aaron also books stand-up comedy shows 7 nights a week at The Broadway Comedy Club under the World banner as well as Improv and sketch comedy shows and classes under The City banner.  When not performing by his lonesome, you can see him performing with his lovely wife Shannon Sutherland in their Haber & Sutherland comedy team. 

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

Well, I have a twitter account you can follow me on, a facebook page where you can be my friend and learn about where I’m performing and a myspace page where you can go if you’re an unsigned band or a whore from New Jersey in a bikini. I also promote all my NYC comedy shows at The World (where Ben also currently performs) as well as the improv classes I teach at First City Comedy.  I’m also not afraid to put my personal email out on the internet for people to get in touch with me.  

2. Have you noticed the payoff yet?

I have literally. People from all over the world find my www.worldnyc.com website when they’re traveling into NYC and looking for a comedy show and they buy tickets online. Many people find out about my improv classes through our website and sign up online as well. That and I’ve been able to start an online dating service hooking up unsigned bands with bikini whores from New Jersey. You can check it out at www.ihookupunsignedbankswithbikiniwhoresfromjersey.com/fakewebsite 

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

I actually don’t think it’s a brilliant move for a comedian. Unless you are 100% sure that it’s a video you want to represent you throughout the entire universe, forever, I would hold off. It’s way too easy for a booker, club owner or TV casting person to look you up and see what you’ve got online. Unless you’re killing with A material and the sound and video are perfect, I say leave it off the internet. Which reminds me I have a couple of videos to take down. 

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

One day people will be able to watch live comedy shows streamed to them through the internet at home…on the moon!

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

I’ll share various tidbits on my twitter and facebook, myspace I’ve given up on. As to your “what agent slighted you” question, I’ve seen comedians burn many bridges online by “flaming” other comics and bookers/club owners etc. It is the height of unprofessionalism, not to mention stupidity, to talk smack about people who might GIVE YOU WORK in the future.  

6. What’s the weirdest thing that you’ve experienced due to your combination of technology and the internet?

Once I plugged a toaster into an Ethernet connected USB port and was able to burn an entire issue of The New York Times into my Thomas’ English Muffin. “All the news that’s fit to print” in my mouth, yo!

Hi-Tech Comedy: Slava Yaryshkin

This week I’m honored to interview comedian Slava Yaryshkin who has created the most popular listing of open mics in the comedy world. Slava is also a funny comedian and interviews lots of comics on his site.

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

slavaWell, for starters I have my own website, badslava.com, which I am turning into the most reliable and curent list of comedy open mics in the nation.  I must have spent at least one hundred hours on it by now, but I can’t help myself.  As far as my career, I believe the first step in comedy is to become famous, which is partially why I built my website.  Everything else should work out as a result.  Maybe.

I am a big fan of facebook, mostly because I am always interviewing comedians and it is the best way to find and contact them.  I check it about every other day.  I am planning to cancel my myspace account sometime soon.  The war is over, facebook won.  As far as twitter, I’ve tried it and quit it a long time ago, and I can’t wait until the media moves on to “the next big thing” and stops talking about it incessantly.  I really, really, really hate twitter.  To me, it symbolizes everything wrong with our self-absorbed, celebrity-obsessed culture.

2. Have you noticed the payoff yet?

In my three years of comedy, I’ve only done two paid shows, so I haven’t noticed the “pay” in payoff yet.  But I have met so many interesting people and made so many friends, that I consider myself a very rich man.  Everything I have accomplished I owe to my friends and I am sure this will be the case with everything I have yet to achieve. 

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

I think it only makes sense to post videos online if you can do so regularly.  I have yet to figure out a way to produce quality comedy on a regular basis.  Plus for the last three years I have spent too much time on material and not enough on stage presence.  That’s my next area of concentration. 

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

I don’t think I can talk about digital tools and comedy without mentioning Dane Cook. I feel there is a huge disconnect between what comedians think digital tools will do for them and what actually happens in real life.  I signed up for MySpace because I thought it would magically make me as popular as Dane Cook.  Nothing like that actually happened.  MySpace didn’t make Dane Cook popular.  What made him popular was staying after every show, shaking every hand, signing every autograph, being in every photo and then going online afterwards and talking to every fan that instant messaged him.  You have to make every fan feel special and appreciated.  MySpace is just another tool that helps you do that.  I think many comedians don’t realize how valuable the fans are and how little the tools matter.  I think in the future comedians will make very little money from CDs/DVDs and all the income will come from live shows. The successful comedians will be the ones with the biggest tribes, and the best example of this is Dane Cook.       

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

I share very little on facebook, because right now my life isn’t all that interesting.  That should change very soon as I have a couple of projects under wraps, but first I have to finish grad school.  Also I’m a big believer in sharing only that which may benefit the other person, that’s why you will never hear what I had for breakfast this morning (apple, pear, orange, grapefruit.)  Part of the reason I interview other comedians on my blog is because I am more interested in others than I am in myself.

6. Have you ever gotten laid by a fan from your facebook ? What’s your weirdest online experience involving your comedy career?

Well, building a list of open mics doesn’t exactly drive women wild with desire.  My weirdest experience yet was when I wrote an abortion shower joke on my blog.  Some guy out there who started a band called “abortion shower” sometime ago found my blog, accused me of stealing his idea and told me he wished I died.   So I’m really looking forward to all the other feedback that is waiting for me in the future.

Hi-Tech Comedy: Clayton Fletcher

Every week I’ll be interviewing a different stand up comedian about their use of technology to further their career. For the first installment, I’m honored to present Clayton Fletcher.

claytonClayton Fletcher is a national headliner who performs all over the USA in various clubs and colleges. He has been seen on MTV, Sex & the City, and Rikki Lake. His live comedy show, The Clayton Fletcher Show, takes place every Saturday 8PM at New York Comedy Club. For more, visit www.claytonfletcher.com

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

Nowadays a comic has to be on everything. You can find me on facebook, myspace, twitter, google, and of course on claytonfletcher.com.  When I am on the road, I use the internet to let my fans know that I am coming to their area. I am doing a show in my hometown, Baltimore, in a couple of weeks and there is a facebook page that is dedicated to my “homecoming show” that weekend. I will see people in the audience that night that I have not seen since elementary school! And I have facebook to thank (or blame) for that.

2. Have you noticed the payoff yet?

Of course! People use my website to purchase copies of my comedy album, Clayton Fletcher: Actually Funny. They book me for gigs after watching my clips online. They engage me for personal appearances and corporate dates through my website. The web has really changed the way comedians get jobs.

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

It is a great way for people to see my work and decide whether they want to hire me. But the bad news is that I run the risk of the audience being too familiar with my material. Any time I do a joke that I have on YouTube, it does not get the same laugh as it did before it was on there! The truth is the audience has heard the joke already because nowadays people like to sample a comic before they go pay money to see him live. But what is really funny about that is that they sometimes say “Man, why didn’t you do that bit from the website?!? I love that joke!!” And I’m like, “But you’ve already heard it!” But I remember how many times I listened to my Bill Cosby albums as a child, so I totally get it. If a joke is funny enough, you will laugh at every time you hear it, not just the first time.

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

Well, in the old days you used to have your manager send a VHS to a booker and then they would discuss whether you were right for a certain club or a certain gig or whatever. Now many of us do not even have managers because we can interact directly and quickly with buyers. Instead of waiting three days for the post office, all they have to do is click on the clip and see it right now. Everything is much easier this way and there is less of a need for the “middle man” in many cases.

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

I try very hard to keep things professional on there. I do not disclose my address or whom I am dating, etc. My previous experience with stalkers has taught me to love my fans more from a distance. Not to say that I do not interact with them, because believe me I do. I answer each and every e-mail or comment I receive! But I have learned to keep my private life private. I mean it is possible to have a real friendship with a fan, but comedians have to be careful how much information they broadcast to the general public. So my Tweets are more “Performing at Carolines tonight” and less “Slept with Sarah last night.”

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

Once a woman from England visited my website and sent me an e-mail asking me to perform at her mother’s birthday party. She offered to fly me to London first-class, pay for my accommodations at a fancy hotel, gourmet meals, saying that she had seen The Clayton Fletcher Show in New York when she was here on “holiday” and thought I’d be the perfect entertainment for this gala event. She came off as very wealthy and we did negotiate a price for the show. She sent me a check that was for an amount larger than we had negotiated, by $3,000!!! I notified her of the error and she told me to go ahead and deposit the check. I did and it cleared. A few days later she informed me that an error had been made, that I had been paid my fee plus that of the DJ for the party. She asked me to send her the balance via wire transfer. I decided to wait a few days because I was more than a tad suspicious of her by now. I mean I wanted it to be true, but you never know. Sure enough my bank called me the next day and asked me who wrote me the counterfeit check. I asked them who allowed it to clear! I am really glad that I never sent that wire transfer because I don’t think the FBI would care much that I’d been swindled out of $3,000. But the worst part was I turned down an actual weekend of road work for this fake London birthday party. You can never be too careful. I always tell comics that story because I really almost fell for it, and I think I am a pretty savvy New Yorker myself…

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