Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Selling Yourself: Website

Now that you've established yourself as a hot-property comedian, you need a place where fans and promoters can visit so they can look at you, envy you and contact you. This is where your very own website comes into play. Follow these tips and before you'll know it, there will be an off-ramp of the information superhighway right at your doorstep!

1. Headshot - Make no mistake; you want people to know that it's your website, so it's preferable to have a large headshot image of you on the homepage. Either looking incredibly smug with yourself for no discernable reason, or looking particularly serious and thoughtful, as if what you do has serious and heavy artistic merit to it.

2. Achievements - Much like Your Blurb, your website homepage should have as many "achievements" and pieces of extraneous information (which mean nothing to the common punter) awkwardly crowbarred into the introduction as possible, almost as if attempting to grant the entire venture some sort of meaning.

3. Showreel - It is also useful to have a showreel on your website. A Showreel is a compilation video clip of all your "best bits", intended to impress potential bookers. There's no need to have the clips in a logical sequence, or the clips themselves to have any context whatsoever. Heavily utilise different clip transitions, such as star-wipes.  Make sure you have some popular music playing in the background throughout the showreel, but remember, not so loud as to distract the viewer, but not so quiet that they can actually make out any of the badly recorded and edited clips you are presenting to them.

4. Quotes - Remember to make use of the various quotes you've gathered and fabricated about yourself in Your Blurb. They can also go on the front page, or in a "Testimonials" section of your website. There's more liberty here to use unverifiable quotes and backhanded compliments to beef up your one-manpowered circlejerk. Always remember to end your quote section with something along these lines:

"Here mate, thought you were funny." - Some bloke after a gig

Guaranteed hilarity. This shows the reader that you actually do have a sense of humour and that people do think you're funny. It also displays the fact that you're in touch with the common everyday man; because normal people go around collecting things people have said about them and pay money to have those things displayed on a website.

5. Facebook - To make sure people regularly visit your website so that your counter steadily goes up, make a "Fan Page" about yourself on Facebook. You can do this after about three open mic gigs. Usually the fan population is made up of closely-related family members of the comic. Science has still not completely deciphered why amateur comics have Facebook pages, but common sense would suggest it has something to do with attention and ego.

6. Blog - A blog is another useful way of encouraging people to visit your site.  Aggressive and favourable introspection and self-congratulation is the most common use of a blog by a comic. Standard blog posts usually consist of a turgid and rose-tinted account of a recent gig, what they enjoyed about it, how the audience enjoyed it, a skimmed over (usually omitted) admittance of failure of a certain aspect of their act, finally finishing with a wry joke or pun in a faux-cheerful manner and a list of their upcoming gigs, as if anyone was reading. A certain level of self-deprecation usually envelopes each blog post, but is strangely absent from the comic's persona, on stage and off. Also, spell-check is optional.

So there you go, lots of people checking out hot, hot comedy websites thanks to these tips! Try them out and make 'em laugh!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Selling Yourself: Your Videos

One thing that's certain about comedy behind-the-scenes, is that promoters love watching stand-up videos sent to them by comedians looking for a spot. It can be useful to have a routine or performance recorded, so that the promoter knows what he's in for and can then massively change his opinion by giving you a bigger slot, more money and future gigs!

Here are some tips for shooting your stand up video.

1. Crowd - Try to pick a quiet night in the club where there aren't many people about. This ensures that you can be heard over the howls of laughter that you will be generating. Too many people laughing will just drown your gags out!

2. Director - Ask a friend to record your set. Preferably a friend who quite likes your routine, that way, they end up laughing directly into the camera from behind. This makes it sound like more people were laughing louder and thus reflects well on you. If your friend knows your set well, it can result in them laughing just before the punchline, as they know what's coming. This is useful for promoters as it lets them know a joke is coming and to pay attention.

3. Framing - Your friend should be able to get a shot that shows you on stage and a part of the audience, perhaps the table at the front. This will allow the promoter to see you wow the crowd with audience interaction while they look disinterested, chat amongst themselves, stare at their phones and scrape their chairs around the floor as they go to the bar.

4. Length - Record and upload your whole set in its entirety. Don't edit and just upload short taster gags of your routine. The introduction from the MC, the clumsy fumbling with the mic stand and the slow start add an air of authenticity that the promoter will be looking for. Stop yourself from cutting out the failed jokes and slow patches in your short 9 minute 32 second "clip" - the viewer is going on a journey through your stand up. It wouldn't be any fun if it was all laughs, would it?!

Happy shooting!

If you're still unsure, here's a good example of what you want to send to a promoter so they can sit through it and watch. You'll be headlining clubs because of your videos in no time!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Selling Yourself: Your Blurb

Your "blurb" is one of the key tools of attracting the audience and the attention of promoters. It is a piece of prose ranging from a few lines to 6+ paragraphs about you, your comedy and various quotes from summarily-written reviews or off-hand compliments given to you by an actual semi-professional comedian.

Shortly before the first ever blurb was written

Much like the ability to call yourself a fully-fledged comedian, there is no need to hesitate in coming up with your very own blurb - do it after your first gig. Hell, do it before your first gig: it's only going to be mostly lies and self-aggrandising speculation anyway.

It is important to use adjectives to describe yourself. The more fantastical the better. "brilliant" , "amazing" , "energetic" , "unrelenting" "comic presence", etc. There's no need to have referential evidence of any of these attributes; it's just to get the audience through the doors, money out of their pockets and attention for your own hungry ego. Remember, you're the show.

The use of clich├ęs in blurbs is particularly common - "blew the roof off" , "leaves the audience wanting more" , "wowed the crowds" etc. It is an odd practice, as all the acts in one line-up can end up sounding exactly the same. It would almost suggest that the featured comics aren't as experienced and successful as one (or they) would assume. Luckily nobody questions this.

Sticking the name of a better or more well-known comedian in your blurb (without asking) is guaranteed to catch the eye of the average punter (and not irritate the other comedian you mentioned at all). Simply having shared the same stage as the well-known comedian throughout the course of one night, is enough to say you "supported" him or her. Incidentally, there's no need to actually go on directly before him/her or be asked specifically to support them (by say, their manager/agent), or even get paid for it. You supported them, and that's that!

Also, remember to ask the more successful comedian what they thought of your set (even if they didn't see it or pay attention to you, which is likely). If they said "I liked it" , "That was OK" , "Stop bothering me", feel free to translate that into whatever delusional persuasion you happen to be of. Something along the lines of "Excellent and unstoppable comedy steam train!" should do. Remember to attribute the particular quote to them all the time.

Always check if there is a reviewer in at the gigs you do. This can be a handy opportunity to get a quote to use for your blurb that may not be as devastatingly obvious that you wrote. The quality, circulation or notoriety of the publication they write for is irrelevant, so long as the review is positive. Ensure this by being overly friendly with the reviewer, buying them drinks, etc. Although research would suggest that reviews are merely the opinion of one person, and do not reflect the overall feeling. Make sure that the review corresponds with your overall feeling.

You are now ready to write your blurb! Some people may find it difficult to write about themselves, so an aid is provided below. This usually proves to be a good technique, so long as you are honest.