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Addicted to Comedy by Wayne Manigo: What Is Your Comedy Strategy?
Have you ever been called a hater because you question something you didn’t understand? When I’m on the web, I will review a lot of websites, videos, and other social media updates from comedians. A part of me wants to learn what works for those who are trying to expand their fan base and develop their career. The business model for comedy keeps changing, and so has the strategy for building a career within it.
Remember the days when you needed a manager or an agent to get started in comedy? Of course you don’t – the internet has eliminated the need for representation, at least until your career begins to take off. It doesn’t take much to set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. I encourage everyone to utilize these tools, but I’m having a problem with “Comedy Elephant Hunting.” Yes, I made that term up! So many comedians are jumping on the bandwagon when it comes to promoting themselves via social media, but they’re using these tools without considering how to implement them in a useful manner. They post updates without considering their target audience, and attempt to attract everyone.
Why create online videos?
Videos take time, money, and energy to create. I appreciate videos that allow comedians to demonstrate their writing style, ability to act, and manage the entire production. It doesn’t need to be created using the latest video technology, but the audience should be able to see and hear it. Comedy is subjective, so I won’t discuss content here. Once you create your video masterpiece, what is your next step? Have you considered submitting it to a film festival? What about using comedy-based websites like Funny or Die to promote it? Creating and editing the video was the difficult part. Now it’s time to let the world know about it.
However, I’m not a fan of videos being created with the sole purpose of attempting to viral. If 100,000 people watched your video, have you created a need from something greater? Bragging rights might be okay for short term success, and proves you know how to attract an audience. Now that you have someone’s attention, how are you going to keep it?
What is the purpose of your podcast?
Podcasts are extremely popular these days, because it is an inexpensive way to build an audience. When it comes to comedy, there are two formats:
- By Comedians for Comedians
- By Comedians for the General Public
There are several comedy related podcasts available, but that shouldn’t prevent you from getting your voice out there. If you focus on your target audience and provide them with ample content, you will build a following. Let’s face it – Reality TV shows are also created every year. Although most of them are crap, it doesn’t stop Hollywood from introducing new versions when one fails. They spend time cultivating an audience before the first episode hits the air. If you’re thinking about hosting a podcast, you should also have an understanding this strategy.
What is the purpose of your website?
Have you noticed how some comics will say “Check me out on my website” after the end of their set? As it turns out, sometimes the audience will do that…especially if you hand out a flyer or business card with that information. What are they going to find on your website? This should vary based on the stage of your career. It’s important to have updated contact data, because they can’t book you if they can’t find you. If you have articles from the media or future shows coming up, I suggest including that information. Your website should serve as an introduction to people who don’t know you. This is where your image and branding will begin.
What is the purpose of your Twitter updates?
I’m still amazed at how comedians are not using Twitter for additional exposure. As I mentioned in my previous article, A Comedian’s Guide To Using Twitter, this tool is indispensable for networking opportunities and earning new fans. If you are only tweeting about your shows and uploading pictures of your food, no one is going to care. But if you take the time to reply to trending topics, suggest people to follow via #FF, and interact with your followers, your exposure on Twitter will increase.
Some of my comedy friends believed using Twitter would consume too much time. I explained how using tools like Tweekdeck can assist them in reducing the amount of time spent online by scheduling certain tweets. This is helpful if you’re tweeting about comedy shows or breaking in new jokes within the 140 character limit. So if you’re in a time crunch, automating half of your updates allows you to tweet smarter, not harder.
Perhaps I’m expecting too much from the comedy world. After Dane Cook used MySpace to build his career, it appears that many comedians are attempting to re-create that level of success using the internet. Am I getting frustrated about the amount of crappy comedy content available? Absolutely! Bad comedy makes it difficult to gain the trust of the audience. Creating comedy is a difficult process, and competing with media channels producing bad content doesn’t make it any easier. My hope is that people will create comedy with a strategy and a purpose. I’m not sure if that makes me a hater or a dreamer – but I will happily accept either title. What are your thoughts on this topic? Feedback is always appreciated!
Keep ‘em laughing!
© 2012 Wayne Manigo
Wayne Manigo is a comedian and co-founder of DC Comedy Writers Group. He is the creator of “Addicted to Comedy,” and the ‘brainchild’ behind the annual comedy conference, Starting Stand Up: A Comic Beginning. He also produces the show, Bellylaughs in Bethesda at Caddies at Cordell.