Hi-Tech Comedy: Keith Alberstadt

Today I’m interviewing Keith Alberstadt. Keith is originally from Nashville, TN the home of the mighty VanderbiltCommodores and is a professional stand-up comedian and writer living in New York City.  He’s been seen on the Late Show with David Letterman and is a contributing writer for Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update.  Read more at KeithComedy.com.


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

I tried to use my website as much as possible. I use a service called Constant Contact to send monthly newsletters out to my 1500 subscribers. Also, every week I send out an email to my subscribers who live in whatever city I’m performing in that week. My subscribers are categorized by city, and I email them saying “I’ll be in your town.” I still do Facebook but I’m trying to push people to my website since I paid money for that and not for Facebook.

2. Have you noticed the payoff yet?

I get referrals, people forward my email to their friends. Their friends come to the show with them. It helps expand your fan base. Facebook, everyone is doing it. So I wanna do something unique in terms of promoting. This is my website, this is me.

3. You’ve been writing one to five topical insight columns per month, how did that idea come about? Do you find a weekly posting format best?

The idea came about when a good friend of mine, who runs my website, suggested it. My buddy Justin said, “Hey you should write more.” He knows I want to get a writing job in New York and I wasn’t exactly prolific with that kind of material. So he suggested I start writing a weekly topical joke. And the more I got involved with writing, National Lampoon, SNL, Fallon, the more I was able to compile a list every week of stuff I was submitting to those guys. It’s beneficial just to get the practice. The more you do it, the easier it comes. It’s still not easy but you know how to do it better.

4. You have your stand up CD on CD Baby.com, how are you finding digital CDs compared to selling CDs after shows?

They’re definitely better sellers after shows. It’s an impulse buy and I’m in charge of the sales pitch at my show. So after people watch me for 40 min, I spend a couple of minutes telling them about the CD and then I close the show. So as I’m walking out, it’s in their head, its fresh. Online, it’s a different animal. A lot of time, people will take my website card with the promise of “we’ll get it later” and they hardly ever do. Cause they forget about it or the impulse goes away. It’s actually cheaper online than live, but it’s better live. Plus they have a few drinks in them.

5. You’ve been doing standup for over a decade, how has it changed because of technology?

There’s been huge differences. The main one is getting in touch with your fans. It’s easier to promote shows but it’s also a saturated market. Everyone is promoting shows now. The difficult thing now is to find a niche.

It’s also an easier way to keep up with comedians, not just personally, but watching clips online and building the camaraderie. And policing each other, if I see somebody on the road doing my buddy’s joke, it’s easier not only to contact my buddy, but to police ourselves. Because the joke stealing comic is gonna be outted online and blackballed a lot easier than ten years ago, and that’s now more of a deterrent.

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

I have different opinions about that. I want people to get a taste of what I’m about, not just bookers but potential ticket buyers. But at the same time, I don’t wanna share too much. I want them to come to the show. I don’t want an online entity of people staying home and watching it. But it’s a great way to spread the word. What I’m worried about is people filming at shows and posting themselves. I’m gonna predict right now, Keith Alberstadt 2010, there’s gonna be a Supreme Court case for freedom of speech involving videos on the internet. Someone films something at a show, posts it online, and it’s gonna be a big issue, I think.

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

I think you’re gonna see more of an emphasis on digital shorts, people making their own sitcoms online. Gaining an internet presence through YouTube channels. Humorists writing blogs online and building a fan base that way, which is already happening now. Stand up might take a little bit of a hit, because more comics start filming their own shit, putting it online. When it comes to being a stand up, there’s only one category in that whole umbrella, regardless of who they are.

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

I’ve got two Facebook pages, one for comedy and one for my personal. Every now and then they overlap, like if I’m raising money for something, like the Nashville Flood Benefit, I’ll post it to both. I don’t share anything that’s too personal. I think that’s dangerous. Then you get stalkers and psychokillers. Unless she’s really cute, then I’ll tell her whatever she wants.

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

Somebody did a joke on Last Comic Standing that was similar to mine, and then, I didn’t know what to do about it. Thenall of a sudden the NBC message board was blowing up. People who knew me, had seen my show, where calling this guy out. And the guy’s friends were saying it was coincidental. They’d been posting comments on that board for a week before I heard about it. I told people to chill out and I contacted the guy and we talked it out. It was weird to see so many people in my corner who I didn’t even know, I was like, “Wow I guess I have a bigger impact than I thought.”

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