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The Business Side of Stand-Up Comedy & Business Keynote Speaking

How to quickly climb
Stand-up comedy & Business keynote speaking
Career ladders:

Submitted for your consideration:
Warning sign: intellectual incitement ahead!
There are countless myths and rumors going around that mislead beginning stand-up comics and business keynote speakers:
Rumors relayed to thrid person who is shocked!

The list of these innocent misconceptions is so long that . . ..
Chalk board with line through myths.


Hopefully, you will now, or very soon start recognizing what I describe.
•Come on: you can handle the truth, right?

Myth vs Reality under magnifying glass.

First myth to be dispelled:
"The open mic system is a great place to try out new material."
Green slate with False checkbox checked.
Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Woody Allen once said,
Woody Allen very young with knowing look.
"The best place to try out new material is Saturday night!"


Translation:
This "Saturday night" is assumed to be at a full-time comedy club where you are working for pay.
Only under these circumstances will your new material have a ghost of a chance to get a fair hearing.
Close-up of four audience members laughing very hard.
•Therefore, it is critical to get hired for pay ASAP.

How can you initially get hired ahead of the pack,
then rapidly work your way up the stand-up comedy and/or business keynote speaking career ladders?
Three men climbing  ladder made up of the letters L-A-D-D-E-R.
•Start by reading every word on this web page:
Guy sitting on top of bookshelf reading book.

If much of what I share contradicts general perceptions in the comedy and speaking communities,
please keep an open mind:
Mark Twain quote: "

Hopefully, by the time you reach the bottom of this document, you will start to get my drift.

And if what I say makes sense to you,
•we may end up working together to help you realize your ambitions
in the fast-lane professions
of comedy and speaking.

This web page is an introduction to my "Business Side of Stand-Up Comedy"
and functions as the Index for my Audition folder.
To return to this Index page, just click your browser's Back Button.

Q: Why devote a folder containing 22 more web pages to Auditions?
A: Because throughout your stand-up comedy or business keynote speaking career,
you will always be auditioning.

Comics begin by performing freebie 5-minute sets at open mics which are auditions
for paid 15-20 minute gigs as Master of Ceremonies (MC) work at:
•comedy one-nighers,
•then at full-time comedy clubs.

Business keynote speakers can begin by delivering freebie 20-25 minute speeches at service clubs:
Rotary Club members pledge allegiance to the flag. Speaker addresses Rotary Club.

followed by 5 minutes of a Questions and Answer session (Q &A).
Speaker holding a Question and Answer session after his speech.
which are auditions
•for highly paid engagements presenting to various groups and corporations.
Conventions needing a new keynote speaker every year can have audiences in the thousands:
Keynote speaker addressing thousands in the audience.
Whereas comics generally must work their way up the traditional MC-Middle Act-Headliner ladder at comedy clubs,
speakers with major success credits outside of speaking can sometimes
•jump right into delivering paid keynote speeches between 20-90 minutes long.

Such credits might have been earned as:
a business celebrity, sport figure, famous actor, Miss America winner, astronaut, politician, successful general, engineer, techie; heroic citizen: pilot, policeman, fireman, etc.

With or without such credits, keynote speakers can increase their fees by 200-300% or more
when their paid keynote speeches are coupled with the speaker's:
•20-minute to 5-hour long seminars (also called "break-away sessions"):
Speaker addressing a break away session.
•Back-of-the-Room (BOR) sales of their books, CDS, DVDs, etc.:
Famous speaker Brian Tracy's display of books and DVDs.
•Consultation fees, on-site training sessions, etc.:
Speaker's cycle of wealth

Back to stand-up comedy career curves.
No matter your current job title,
•at every performance, you are always reaching for the next rung up your career ladder:
MC's performing 15-20 minute sets at full-time comedy clubs seating 150-500 customers are always auditioning
•to become slightly higher paid Middle Acts, also called Feature Acts in different parts of the USA.
Middle Acts performing about 30 minutes sets are always auditioning
•to become Local Headliners who are paid twice as much as Middle acts, or more.
Local Headliners performing 45-60 minutes sets are always auditioning
•to become National Headliners who can fill major venues averaging 2,500 seats.
National Headliners are performing 60-90 minute sets are always auditioning
•to become TV Comics starring in recordings of their live act to be:
1) broadcast as specials over cable TV
2) and made into DVDs
that play to audiences of millions:
Bill Maher DVD cover.Bill Maher for President T-Shirt.Robin Willilams DVD cover.Jeff Dunham DVD cover.Louie Anderson DVD cover.
Comics with cable TV & major label DVD credits are always auditioning
•to get plum parts in TV series & motion pictures which play to audiences of even more millions:
Bob Hope in movie "The Paleface."Dick VanDyke Show.Steve Martin in movie "Roxanne."Robin Williams in movie "Good Morning, VietNam."Billy Crystal in movie "City Slickers."

Auditioning has both an artistic and a business side to it,
neither of which seem to be very well understood,
. . . not even by some rather seasoned performers:
Confused comic, face twisted with anxiety.
Gasp!

So, with this web site, even if you are starting to be in the know . . .
. . . Such a deal!

8-)

Every one gets their initial experience somewhere by telling jokes to small groups of people who know you,
perhaps at parties or in more formal situations where a beginner performer is required
for an amateur stage or service club podium situation.

Those amateur circumstances drastically change when you first appear at a comedy before a group of strangers.

There are no requirements for open mics; i.e., anyone may sign up.
But no one gets paid except perhaps the MC who may also be producing these shows.

Hint: producing amateur shows is far more time and trouble than it is worth.
Rumor has it that you, as a producer-comic, will get to meet other performers who will in turn book you at their open mics.
Reality check:
If your act is yet to be at the required level,
you are in danger of getting type-cast only as a permanent host at your own comedy open mic gigs.
•There is a long list of comedy careers ended by producer-comics falling for this short-term money temptation.

Stick to performing at open mics produced by that other greedy guy,
•and spend your time and energy much more profitably long-term
by mastering writing and performing techniques.
What techniques?
Pencilled out "im" in impossible = possible!
Here is a check list for you to look over,
35 lessons ranging from Beginner to Advanced.

No matter what you have heard,
•Always phone ahead to ask about a particular open mic's procedures as there are variations.
Sometime you just need to show up that night at a designated sign-up time,
and meet with whoever is in charge of that night's open mic.
At larger comedy clubs, you may need to sign up weeks in advance.

In other amateur situations, you might have taken a beginner comedy class taught by a local comic
who is an untrained teacher with no real course syllabus nor accompanying workbook.
Comedy class taught in semi-circle without a mic nor camcorder.
Usually these so-called "classes" meet weekly for 1.5-3 hours but only last a few weeks:
There are almost never any Beginning-Intermediate-Advanced sections,
and certainly no Graduate or Post-Graduate classes:

Well, there is one guy who offers such an extended progressive program.
Can you guess who that might be?
Hell, he'd have to have taught at colleges and universities for years.
No, it will never happen.

8-)

Problem:
These awkward local-yokel comedy classes are often attended by beginners
prompted by a promise that after only a few weeks,
they will participate in a "graduation" performance
at a comedy club or other venue:
Comedy class promising a graduation performance.
•Personally, I do not like the graduation performance situation as it tends to take place in an overly protected environment:
performing before friends, family and classmates.
Besides, what other theatre school in the United States claims you have "graduated" this soon?
Do you smell a rat?

Worse, this faux "graduation performance" is nothing like what you will face at a real comedy club open mic before an audience of total strangers.
Too often, beginning comics are so shocked, so unable to handle that unexpected reality,
that they actually re-enroll in these phony classes just to return
to that warm and fuzzy graduation performance.
Ugly!
•To me, this is a straight-up con:
Nail that lie cartoon of hammer striking nail.
. . . Opinions may vary.

Solution:
If possible, at least take my Workshops Lessons 1-4 and/or my Coaching & Co-Writing services before your first open mic.
This way, you will have:
•A clear template at hand to both measure other comics
•and gauge your own progression.
Know what problems you need to address from the get-go
•and how to solve those problems so you can get a meaningful video of your first open mic performance.

You guessed right:
I offer no graduation performances nor open mics.
There is no need to waste either my time or your time re-inventing this broken wheel.
Why?
Because there is an abundance of valid performing opportunities in every community throughout the United States.

Everyone wants to get on a stage.
Forget what you want!
That's for ego-ridden, cry-babies.

What you need is to learn all the writing and performing techniques
that can get you hired for pay faster than the other guys:
Spotlight singles out one comic in a crowd to be successful.
With a proper program, you can get hired long before your fellow open mic-ers ever . . . earn a nickel.
Why?
Because typically open mic-ers perform the same 5 minutes for months and even years,
riddled with the same writing and performing errors
that long ago stopped cold any evolution in their once budding comedy careers:
Albert Einstein quote with photo of him.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results."

—Albert Einstein

However, even though I have stopped producing my own comedy open mics and showcases,
•I will help you find the current local open mic and showcase circuit.
Much more importantly, I will guide you to improve your stand-up comedy act so rapidly
•that you can potentially start getting paid.
I say "potentially" since your progress will depend upon doing your homework:
•to learn, and then master the techniques.

Are you willing to listen and learn?
Comics as a group have an unfortunate reputation of being the worst students on planet earth!
So, it is crucial to ask yourself,
"Am I part of that small percentage who are the exception that proves the rule?"
Even then, you must still have both taste and talent.

More on my unique training for both comics and speakers:
•I have a 2-pronged approach to teaching
both the art and business of stand-up comedy and corporate keynote speaking
which I discuss further on my
FAQ page.

Most likely, instead of beginning your journey with me,
•you have shown up here to finally get the real deal:
after your first time (or first few times) on a comedy stage.

Professional comics and speakers
with 10 or more years of paid performances under their belt
also take my training so they can both:
•learn more techniques
•and get back-to-basics.

You will probably have found my web site through a recommendation from someone you trust
or accidentally by searching over the Internet.
•You are now looking for more solid information
•in a far more professional, one-on-one consulting environment.


Hopefully, your first time on stage was captured on video
and you either have possession of the video on a DVD
or a link to where your video is posted online:
Warning video survelliance sign.
Next best thing would be having a video from one of your performance very early in your career.
•Waiting to get a "better" video before seeking professional help is a total waste of time:
How falsehoods
Way too many folks have fallen into that ego-defensive trap,
and lost critical years of early development time.
Plus, the untrained performer will predictably:
•develop bad habits that could have been caught and corrected early on.
By now, they will be cemented into his personal technique,
•and take much effort to dislodge.

Odds are that you will stop any really meaningful progression
•very soon after you began doing open mics, as described above.

Upshot:
It is very helpful for me to see you performing
on a comedy stage or speakers platform
•before you "learn too much."

;-)

First of all, let me clarify:
•There are no amateur stand-up comics or humorous keynote speakers.
You can either compel the audience to laugh at your jokes, or not.
•Therefore, the next step is to get paid.

Why get paid?
The beginning pay for either comedy or speaking is not enough to waste your time.
•What makes getting paid essential is that you can finally be performing before audiences that expect you to be funny:
Audience laughing.

You are no longer a rank beginner at an open mic or service club where the typical audience has very low expectations.
•Every week, YOU can now have your very own Woody Allen "Saturday night"
Woody Allen on mic.
to give your new material an opportunity to succeed.

Rule number one:
You cannot learn anything about stand-up comedy from either graduation performances or open mics:
I said that several times already?
I know, but years of experience tell me that this theme bears repeating.

;-)

OK: I lied.
You can actually learn something whenever and wherever you perform:
Learn to bring a wad of business cards to every open mic you attend,
and network with the other wannabe comics to learn when & where are:
•The unlisted open mics and
•Professional one-nighter comedy shows where you might get to do a "guest set"
as an audition for the show's comedy producer.

Generally, guest sets work out to be just another unpaid gig.
But if it is on Saturday night, . . .
You get the idea.

These weekly open mic and one-nighter "gigs" (engagements) open and close so fast,
they often never get listed in local newspapers nor mentioned on local radio or TV stations.
. . . But these are your first hidden opportunities that can lead you to eventually get paid gigs.

Yes:

•You will be booking yourself as you move up the comedy club ladder.
No agent, no manager: so, you must also do you own promotion.
This involves contacting the media to get interviews.
Interviews require even more exacting preparation than your stand-up comedy act.
After all, it is the Act to Sell Your Act!
There is a reason this is called "Show Business."

By now, you are starting to realize that there are a lot of do's and don't's
that most beginners and even seasoned performers hardly know about.
There is also a lot of misinformation, rumors, myths
Cartoon of real woman whispers to image of another woman on her computer montor who in turn is whispering to the real woman!
and a general pervading paranoia which you must have the sense to ignore.

If you are intelligent, some of this reality you are already starting to figure out.
Good on you!

My purpose is to accelerate your development
•by getting you the correct information and training
. . . as quickly and painlessly as possible.
OK by you?

:-)

Start by studying the masters, past and present.
If you have no idea who these "masters" might be . . ..
Hint: it's not any of the comics performing at your local open mics
or low-paying one-nighters
or even you local comedy club!
•. . . Then, get my Home Study Program, and begin to learn that always:
Technique is King.

More bad news:
After you win your first audition to get paid as an MC,
read the unstated fine print:
Small print between
To continue to get more such MC jobs,
you still must know how to:
Get and Keep the Job as MC.

Worse:
You must continually track industry trends.
So you can accurately answer questions like:
Is Stand-Up Comedy Making a Comeback?
Or:
Character in Stand-Up Comedy: A Sly Way to "Copyright" Your Original Jokes?

Search out interviews of famous top comics
who are not just promoting their latest TV show or movie,
but instead are:
David Letterman behind his host desk.
looking back at their careers to reveal valuable tips, dispel myths, etc.


And discover discerning articles and online newsletters
"Coach Says" newsletter.
that ignore the performer's personal lives and their performing credits,
and instead focus on techniques that work!

I also provide you a way to right now:
Get ahold of a comedy producer's audition requirements letter
which included the all-important, spelled out RATING CRITERIA
•which allows you to measure your act
•before submitting an audition video.

Note:
Most producers will not look at a second audition video for a full year.
Your first submitted audition video must close the sale.
Why a full year?
Because one year is the average time it takes for a comic to make any measurable improvement to their act.

Yep: your open-micer cronies will not have me in their corner accelerating their development time.
Instead, they will just be fretting about the logistics of getting dressed and groomed, then driving to their next open mic:
Open micers are Zombies.
Don't believe me that their career plan can be this mindless?

Then, prove it to your satisfaction by just asking them this seemingly obvious question:
"What will you accomplish at tonight's open mic?"
Odds are very good that the answer will be something like:
"To get better, I need as much stage time as possible."
Ask them,
"How much stage time do you have by now,
and how much more open mic stage time do you need
to start getting good enough to get hired?"


Expect to hear idiotic excuses:
"You can never have enough stage time."
"It is difficult to get hired because there are too many comics looking for work."
"I'm ready now, but producers don't get my jokes."
"I'm funny, but the audiences are dumb."

You can ask any number of career open-micer these and similar questions.
Expect to get the same kind of mind-bending answers from all these mental cases:
What if the fact that I don't think I've been brainwashed is just proof
It's like they have all been brainwashed!

Oh:
You might be tempted to offer them that Albert Einstein quote.
Only do so if you are really good at blocking fast punches!

8-)

On the other hand, you can have my constant guidance and goal-setting services:
Goal setting systematically provides missing pieces of the comedy puzzle.

•You can now beat that one year sentence by having specific plans for every every one of your performances:
Good plans win games of Scrabble.
Game?

So, do not submit an audition video until you have a video
•that can reasonably be expected to get you hired.

Makes sense?

But what do I know?

Jim Richardson
Just a simple, country comedy coach

8-)

Some of my credits:
•Comedy Coach & Co-Writer since 1977
•Producer of over 1,000 professional comedy nights in northern California.
•Judged the San Francisco International Stand-Up Comedy Competition 2 years,
then went on to coach the winner!
Produced 48 Comedy Marathon Comedy Contests over a 3-year span
that unlike today's comedy competitions with their general categories
featured specific categories in order to better train my students and clients in writing and performing techniques.
•These contests were based on an article I wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook entertainment section
. . . I could go on.

But we have work to do!

If you have any questions about the above process,
please email or phone me:
jim@Stand-UpComedyWorkshop.com
415-877-4424

Snail mail:
Jim Richardson
Organized Comedy
PO Box 992
Mill Valley, California 94942-0992
USA


Page last updated:
Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 4:27 pm PST

Copyright © 1997-2014

Home | Video | Coaching & Co-Writing | Order | About | Techniques | Register | FAQ | Contact
Studying Comics | Comedy Roots | Comeback? | Defense | Character mask | Robin | Censorship
Writer's block | Camcorder Coaching | Memorizing | Remembering | Setting a bit
Business | Business Cards | Your Web Site | Open Mics | Evil "Bringer Shows" | Audition | MC tips
Promo Packet | Contact media | Interviews | How to get BIG-$ Gig$ | Agents vs. Managers
Newsletter | Goodies | Auditioning: TV & Movie parts | Site Map: more tips