64 Invaluable Lessons And Bits Of Advice I Learned from Podcast Guests in 2015

Ask The Industry Podcast Comments

64 Invaluable Lessons And Bits Of Advice I Learned from Podcast Guests in 2015

After 1 year of podcasting and 34 episodes I thought I’d make a blog summarising the best quotes, tips, hints and bits of advice I have been given from my guests.

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Here we go…

EP 01 – Hils Jago (Founder of Amused Moose Comedy Clubs)

“Keep to time. I have to make sure I get acts on and off as some of them are doubling or tripling up and I can’t afford for anything not to run to time. So always wear a vibrating watch and don’t go over.” – Hils Jago

“The best way of me spotting you is through the Amused Moose Competition… the 1 minute first round heat is done on purpose. If you can’t make me laugh in 1 minute you’re doing something wrong. Stewart Lee has long jokes, but can make me laugh in under 1 minute.” – Hils Jago

EP 02 – Alex Petty (Founder of Laughing Horse Comedy Clubs and the Edinburgh Free Fringe)

“A good Fringe application shows me that you’re going to put effort into your show. If you can’t even be bothered to make an effort in the application stage, that’s a pretty good sign you’re not taking it seriously.” – Alex Petty

“The mechanics of Edinburgh mean that free shows can and do work in a way they just couldn’t in other cities and festivals. Don’t just rule out “free” as not profit making.” – Alex Petty

EP03 – Julian Hall – (comedy reviewer for The Independent newspaper / Fringe PR expert / Author)

“I used to review and now I do PR. It’s basically game keeper turned poacher. I think it gives me an edge because I have all the contacts and know how publications work” – Julian Hall

“If someone wants me to represent them, just email me. That’s the best way. Once I’ve seen them I’ll see if we’re a good fit to work together.” – Julian Hall

EP04 – Rachel Holdsworth & Stuart Black from The Londonist

“We won’t feature acts more than once a year unless they’ve done something REALLY special or noteworthy. So please don’t email us every time you’ve got a gig to put on.” – Eachel Holdsworth

“We are always looking for new and interesting things, so if you have a concept for a gig or something which we’ve not covered before, do contact us. But make sure your emails are short and to the point.” – Stu Black.

EP05 – David Quantick (TV / radio writer for The Day Today, Brass Eye and Spitting Image as well as author)

“An agent is like buying a Rolex when you can’t afford one just to impress people.” – David Quantick

“Almost all American sitcoms are great and almost all British sitcoms aren’t.” – David Quantick

“BBC producers get paid if they make a program or not. Independent producers have a vested interest in making your show.” – David Quantick

EP06 – Bruce Dessau – reviewer at the London Evening Standard & Founder of BeyondTheJoke.co.uk Uncategorized

“In Edinburgh 2014 I went to 100 shows. That’s 5 shows a day. Out of those shows I will have reviewed 15 of them. There’s days in Edinburgh where I don’t leave the flat until 5 or 6pm because I writing. It’s nothing personal.” – Bruce Dessau

“Even if a reviewer doesn’t review your show, getting them into watch you is an achievement at the Fringe. Just to see where you are in your career. Next time we might make more of an effort or push to get yours reviewed.” – Bruce Dessau

EP07 – Iszi Lawrence – comedian, podcaster & Edinburgh poster designer.

“Always use your face because you’re essentially a monkey and always looking for faces.” – Iszi Lawrence

“Make sure you have the time on the poster, and if it’s a play, put the word play on it. A lot of times I’ve seen a poster and thought ‘when is it?’ or ‘where is it?’ Most people want all the information as easy and accessable as possible.” – Iszi Lawrence

EP09 – Idil Sukan – art director and photographer who does marketing materials for performers

“It takes a whole year of your life, at least, to produce an hour of comedy and it all comes down to a picture of you holding a microphone at a jaunty angle. That sums all up all your hard work, tears, bad relationships, why you don’t call your dad as much as you should do, the fact you don’t eat healthily… and it all boils down to a shitty microphone.” – Idil Sukan

EP10 – Luisa Omielan – Comedian behind the hit show What Would Beyonce Do?

“I couldn’t get a PR, they all turned me down. So I had to ask people to tell their friends and rely on word of mouth which was my only promotion” – Luisa Omielan

“A good reviewer shouldn’t give away the show. It’s hard to be a good reviewer because you shouldn’t know what they like or it’s totally subjective. And why is he a reviewer if he only likes shows about donkeys.” – Luisa Omielan

EP11 – Geoff Whiting – Founder and owner of Mirth Control Comedy Clubs and Management

“25% of acts can drive. Which is 1 in 4. Which is a car. So I pick the driver first and then pair the acts with that driver.” – Geoff Whiting

“No comic gets a gig from every booker. Except maybe the top 1%. The acts aren’t happy about it and so generate some sort of criticism of that promoter. And if you get 4 or 5 people saying something that’s enough to generate an urban myth.” – Geoff Whiting

EP12 – Bob Slayer – Why He Hates Comedy But Loves The Fringe…

“If the paid Fringe venues really wanted you, they’d offer you a better deal than £4,000 for the venue. All of the big 4 are just after your money.” – Bob Slayer

“There’s loads of acts who sell hundreds of tickets and finish the fringe with the square root of fuck all. So we started a new way of doing things.” – Bob Slayer

“I tell my acts not to spend any money on marketing. Get listed in the program and brochure. That’s  worth doing and for £300 it’s a bargain.” – Bob Slayer

EP13 – Sean Brightman – How To Make The Most Of Your Edinburgh Fringe Programme Listing

“When in doubt, use a photo of yourself (in a program)” – Sean Brightman

“If you’re not in the program you’ve got less chance of people coming to review your show” – Sean Brightman

EP14 – Kate Copstick – Head reviewer for the Scotsman Newspaper at the Edinburgh Fringe

“It makes me so angry when performers title their shows ‘the intelligent satirical show’ and they’re neither intelligent nor satirical. I think it’s important to give your show a title that doesn’t over or under or wrongly sell it.” – Copstick

“I think we’re in a very dangerous time where the ‘thought police’ might be made official. Comedy is not the place for the thought police.” – Copstick

“If you ever do Mock The Week, never laugh, because they’ll only use it to beef up everyone else’s jokes. So if you can never laugh.” – Copstick

EP15 – Julian Caddy – Managing Director of the Brighton Fringe

“We advice all acts to get in the programme and take advantage of the early bird special. It’s the best way of getting your show noticed because everyone in Brighton uses it to discover shows.” – Julian Caddy

“To flyer in Brighton you need to get a pass from us because it’s illegal without one.” Julian Caddy

EP16 – Liz Miele – How to go viral and build an online fan base.

“I just cut down snippets of my jokes and sent them off to publications which were relevant to them. They shared them and jump started them going viral.”  – Liz Miele

“It took me a while to realise that the numbers on my Twitter are people. You can forget that.” – Liz Miele

EP17 – Neil Mackinnon – Edinburgh Fringe Head of External Affairs

“Make sure you check the Clash Diary if you’re doing a stunt. It’s called that because we try to schedule in stunts so that none of them clash and you have the best chance of getting down journalists or the right people.” – Neil Mackinnon

“The Fringe Programme is the best £300 you’ll spend on advertising because everyone gets a copy, including journalists and reviewers. It’s what they use to plan their schedules.” – Neil Mackinnon

EP18 – Jill Edwards – Promoter at Comic Boom & Comedy Tutor.

“If you want to be popular, don’t book a comedy night.” – Jill Edwards

“Be original. Put yourself into what you do, there’s no point in being bland. Listen only to people who are properly in the comedy business.” – Jill Edwards

“Just because you’re not right for a club doesn’t make you a rubbish comedian. Also just because you’ve not been booked for a certain club doesn’t make that club rubbish.” – Jill Edwards

EP19 – Mel Brown – Founder of Impressive PR

“From a media point of view the Free Fringe is harder to get coverage. From the public point of view, I think the Free Fringe is really really good. And as a concept it’s great, but as a PR there’s several obstacles you come up against including saving tickets for media… show’s don’t always run on time… it’s very hard to police.” – Mel Brown

“I only take on comedians I love and enjoy, and that’s the only rule I go by.” – Mel Brown

EP20 – Joe Lycett

“When you’re picking which agent to go with, you should pick someone who gets you and believes in your act not one that only noticed you because of a competition credit. Because careers fluctuate and ultimately you could have good years and bad years and you want someone who believes in your act above anything else.” – Joe Lycett

“I don’t know how much I earn, because it changes so much from month to month it’s often hard to know exactly what you have.” – Joe Lycett

“At my level TV doesn’t pay as much as you’d think and radio definitely doesn’t pay as much as people think.” – Joe Lycett

EP21 – Alfie Noakes – How To Build A Community Around A Comedy Club

“I do a selection of different formats both to challenge the acts but also to keep me interested and entertained. When you see as many spots as I do you need something to keep it interesting.” – Alfie Noakes

EP22 – Mark Fisher – The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide – Comedians Book Club

“There’s this whole industry in comedy where by big agents have realised if you nurture newer and younger comedians at the early stage of their career they could be doing things on Dave within a few years so there’s big money to be had.” – Mark Fisher

“The way industry has led comedy there’s less ways to be eccentric than there used to be”- Mark Fisher

“The one group of people most interested in your reviews are the group of people you’re not writing them for, so it’s very difficult to put that out of your head because if I write a bad review I know it’ll hurt you.” – Mark Fisher

EP23 – Bec Hill – Potential life saver #SimonShat

“I had offers from a few agents, but I wasn’t ready so I said no. I’m quite happy booking my own stuff and not getting booked into gigs that I don’t want to do. I’d rather have a day job to support me doing gigs that I like rather than doing gigs I don’t like on my own and then hating comedy and wanting to quit.” – Bec Hill

“I am terrified of getting older and that a younger, super adorable girl is going to come up on the scene with way more jokes who also does flip charts. At the moment I have the luxury of going at my own pace, because I’m not in competition with anyone.” – Bec Hill

 EP24 – Peter Walsingham – Downstairs At The Kings Head

“We go straight to 15 minute spots here. No 10s. I know when people are ready to play my room. They may already be playing or headlining other rooms but they can’t play this one.” – Peter Walsingham

“People can come here and die as often as they like… it doesn’t matter.” – Peter Walsingham

“My wife asks why do I treat comedians like children, when you find they’ve been driving round the wrong town looking for a gig then you realise some of them aren’t that bright.” – Peter Walsingham

EP25 – Geoff Rowe – Founder Of The Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival.

“Leicester is the first festival in the year and is a place for acts to try out material; many many shows which preview in Leicester then go on to become fully formed shows in Brighton and then Edinburgh. Also the industry increasingly come to Leicester to “spot talent” and then go on to take them to Edinburgh & other festivals. Think we might also want to talk about what makes a “comedy festival”.” – Geoff Rowe

EP26 – Charlotte Austin – Agent and co-founder at CatFace Talent

“Often the best clubs will have a regular audience who will come back once a month or even weekly so of course the promoter isn’t going to book you more than once a year. There’s more comedians and less clubs so it’s bound to get more competitive.” – Charlotte Austin

“Corporate gigs are not the best place for comedy but it’s what the organisers want. The best place for comedy is somewhere like the Comedy Store on a Friday night. But corporate gigs is an important part of that comedians diary.” – Charlotte Austin

EP27 – Aidan Goatley – What’s it like taking the same show to the Edinburgh Fringe for 5 consecutive years?

“Brighton Fringe is not a marketing beast, you need to sell it in the programme. People aren’t flyering and flyering isn’t working. Posters, you’re limited as to where you can put them. So it’s all about the programme.” – Aidan Goatley

“Before you think about going to Edinburgh make sure it’s what you want and you believe in the show. And if you’re lucky enough to have people turn up, remember they’ve come for a show. So don’t reflect on if it’s going bad, just give them a show.” – Aidan Goatley

EP28 – Ben Williams – Comedy Editor at Time Out

“Full line ups are good and I won’t recommend a night that doesn’t contain a full line up” – Ben Williams

“Don’t just send me a link, but the info in the body of an email. I don’t use Facebook and other websites go down. So I might not list it as a result. I get 200 shows to put on the database a week.” – Ben Williams

“The size of the comedy section in the physical copy is completely dependant on ads. Some weeks I’ll have space for 15 shows, sometimes 5, sometimes none. Sometimes if there’s not enough ads I’ll lose a page, but also if there’s too many ads I’ll lose a page because all the same is taken up by adverts.” – Ben Williams

EP29 – Oliver Double – Author of Getting The Joke on the history (and future) of stand up comedy

“The secret of being funny in front of an audience is creating a rapport with the audience where they believe you are funny. Which sounds really simple but it’s actually really hard. It’s making the audience believe ‘this is on’. There’s material and timing but the key to it is the relationship between audience and performer.” – Oliver Double

“I think you have to be intelligent to do comedy because comedy plays with perception and you have to understand how other people see things and make weird associations.”- Oliver Double

“Evidence shows that what you invest in the arts you get back many times over. The government is doing what they’re doing because they hate the welfare state and they hate the poor people and like the rich.”- Oliver Double

EP30 – James Alderson – How to go full time in less than two years and start your own comedy competition

“You can travel for an hour to get across London or even get out of London and in that time I can get to Oxford. Or half way to Exeter. And not to do a 5 spot, but a nicely paid spot.” – James Alderson

“You don’t know your set is good enough to ask a promoter to sell it until you push yourself to go and do a 20 minute spot over and over again. But I am no spring chicken, and I needed to make this work.”- James Alderson

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Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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