I’ll admit it. I’ve been lazy about posting my videos online. Some of my excuses are probably the same as some of yours:
- I don’t have the proper equipment.
- I’m happy with my set list that night.
- I don’t want anyone to steal my material.
While I continued to create dozens of additional excuses (and I have), those were my popular ones for not creating a video to submit to anyone. Artists torture themselves, and sometimes it takes a mentor to put our views back in perspective. Enter Kory Clarke!
Kory is a internationally known Rock & Roll sensation, and I have followed his career for decades. From his years as the front man in Warrior Soul, to his current solo projects – I’ve always admired his work. Thanks to his active use of Facebook to communicate with his audience, I have been able to contact him on several occasions.
For my birthday, he sent me an autographed copy of his latest CD while he was touring in Stockholm. While I thought that was the biggest surprise of them all, he hit me with a request I didn’t expect:
“ Hey Wayne! Send me a video of your comedy stuff!”
I was partying at Mardi Gras at the time, and explained that I would create a video once I returned to DC. In my head, I created a plan to:
1. Select a venue with decent lights and sound.
2. Perform at as many shows as possible to tweak my material.
3. Submit the best video I could as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, it was the middle of the winter. My scheduled shows were being rescheduled due to the snowstorms. Deadlines for creating a video kept getting pushed back. After four weeks of constant delays, I was able to recorded two comedy sets during the same week.
In my haste to create a video, I made several rookie mistakes. If only I had taken the time to review these tips from Steve Hofstetter (Creator of the TV show Laughs), perhaps I would have produced a better product.
With Steve’s permission, I am posting his advice on creating videos:
1) Start with you. Not someone introducing you, but you. Don’t waste a booker’s time having them wait through an introduction. No need for fancy graphics either, get to the point. Most bookers shut videos off after 30 seconds. Don’t waste your only chance to get their attention. And start on your opening joke – if you don’t, it makes people wonder what you cut out.
2) Send nothing you need to explain or make an excuse for. “I don’t usually start with local material!” “The last comic had done a bit about X, so I riffed.” Send the booker an accurate example of WHAT THEY WILL SEE when you work their gig.
3) Good quality! Shaky footage? Bad audio? Whitewashed face? Don’t send that. You don’t need it to be TV quality – but the worse the quality, the more amateur you look.
4) Never send anything from a show packed with your friends and family. We have seen enough tapes to be able to tell when the cheering is artificially loud.
5) Send something CURRENT. Last week, I was sent a clip from Evening at the Improv, a show that went off the air 18 years ago. Sending an old clip makes it seem like you don’t work enough to get a new one. Also makes you seem irrelevant.
6) Make sure the tape is the impression you want to create. There’s no such thing as “good enough” – a booker can only judge you on the ammo you give them. If you don’t yet have the perfect tape, then you don’t yet have a tape.
I highly recommend reading Steve’s website if you want to learn more about becoming a comedian.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I can’t be great at everything. I have friends who are willing to help me out with cameras, lights, and other items. Everybody knows a guy that knows a guy, so check with your friends.
- If you want to get booked for shows, you need to have the required tools to promote yourself. Until now, I have been able to get by due to “word of mouth” and my comedy references. While that’s okay for the short term, I need to take myself more seriously if I want to be reviewed as a comedy professional.
- Don’t rush your video project!
While I’m not sure what opportunity I may have missed out on by not being prepared, I promised myself that it won’t happen again!