37 invaluable bits of advice and knowledge from the comedy industry experts.

Ask The Industry Podcast Comments

37 invaluable bits of advice and knowledge from the comedy industry experts.

This is part 2 (find part 1 here) of the “advice series” of blog posts from the industry experts. Below are comedy club owners, TV commissioners and veteran performers advice for breaking into areas of the comedy industry and becoming a professional performer.

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Here we go…

EP31 – Darrell Martin – Owner and founder of the Just The Tonic Comedy Club Chain

“I’ve painted myself into a corner of being a promoter now, I wanted to be a stand up.”

“If someone’s got a car they’re more likely to get a gig. But if they’re not someone I want to book, regardless of having a car or not, I won’t book them. And I can’t believe there’s adults whose job can take them all round the country who don’t have a car or don’t know how to drive.”

“I’d never judge someone on one gig. Because I know what it’s like, I think it would be unfair for me to to see them stink and then write them off.”

EP32 – Live Touring Q&A Panel (recorded at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015)

“Is the ego bigger than the audience?” – Mick Perrin.

“It can make a massive difference getting the performer interviewed in the local paper can make all the difference” – Amee Smith

“Press is free… everything else costs” – Mick Perrin

EP33 – Zena Barrie and Michelle Flower – Founders of the Camden Fringe

“Edinburgh was getting expensive and a bit of a pain so we thought what would happen if we just told everyone there was a Fringe happening in London.”

“I don’t think Edinburgh has this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see things that it once had because most of the good stuff comes down and does a run in London afterwards now anyway.”

“If you’re 5 minutes into a show and you haven’t paid, I think audience members will just get up and walk out. But if they’ve paid £5, as weird as it sounds, they will stay to get their money’s worth.”

EP34 – Amée Smith – Associate Director at Prospero Arts PR – How to effectively promote a show, tour or Edinburgh run.

“We are basically the link between the journalists and the comedian.”

“PRs only work to get journalists down to your show, not agents or producers. I think it’s important to manage expectations on this.”

“We budget Edinburgh so we can cover costs. It’s the things we do the rest of the year which come from the relationships at the Edinburgh Fringe which make it worthwhile.”

EP35 – Ben Walker – Behind the scenes of award-winning podcasts.

“A BBC Radio 4 show has a budget of around £11,000… we have no where near that for the podcasts. But we don’t need it.”

“When I am editing a podcast I think of the end listener. I think of someone on the train on the commute. So I aim for 30-40 minutes so it’s something they can consume in one go.”

“You can just make a show and put it online without asking permission from anyone. The gaping difference between that and traditional TV is with one you get paid and with the other you don’t necessarily get paid.”

EP36 – Sara Cywinski – How to get your comedy / humour book noticed, sold and published by eBury Random House.

“We keep eyes open for things that are trending or exciting online and if I think it can be a great book I’ll go after it”

“if you have a story to tell then I think you should go for it and self publish. There’s loads of books which have done well in self publishing and have gone on to be offered a bigger deal to help it reach a wider market”

“I love to hear from people who have ideas for books to see if it’s something we would publish before they go and spend hours writing it.”

EP37 – Jessie Botterill – Literary agent at Janklow & Nesbit.

“When you email your book to an agent there’s this myth that nobody is reading them and the inbox never gets checked, but people forget that finding authors on the slush pile is our bread and butter. If the quality of the writing is there, people will jump on it.”

“Having a strong social media following can really help a pitch for a book because it shows us that you’ve gone out there and found a bit of an audience and that you can write”

“Always show the first draft to someone you trust who reads the type of books you’re writing. Really established writers do this and it’s annoying because I want to read it first”

EP38 – Adam Larter – How to build a “cult following” from the founder of the Weirdos.

“I would say I am alternative, not because I’m trying to be some sort of arts school kid about it, but because I just want the audience to know ahead of time that when they come, they’re not going to get straight stand up. I’m aware ‘Weirdos’ was never the best name for the group, but it is a shortcut for people to know they’re not going to be watching stand up tonight.”

“If you’re going to flyer anyone in Edinburgh, go older. They’ve got more money to put into the bucket. If you want an intelligent audience go older.”

EP39 – Chris Young and Jake Alexander – Founders of the Hastings Fringe Festival

“Apart from Brighton, there isn’t anything in the South East of England which showcases performers to audiences down on the coast.”

“The venues don’t really trust us right now. This hasn’t been done before so it’s a hard sell to convince them we can find 200 comedians and pack out their venues, but we will do it.”

EP40 – Iain Coyle – Comedy Commissioner at Dave / UKTV

“There’s stuff I’d like to commission and stuff I’m allowed to commission and that’s something people should know. But if I like it, I’ll champion it and I’ll take it forward.”

“it’s not commissioners who are risk averse, it’s channels. You’d imagine when the number of channels went up so would the opportunities to do something interesting and of course they’re not. Everyone is doing a facsimile of the same thing. Chasing the same few viewers. And they know what their advertisers will pay for that type of content which holds back creativity.”

“I always fight the good fight to get on new talent because it’s important to get new blood into the gene pool.”

“I’ve chatted with big agents like Hannah Chambers and Avalon and all of them have said it’s near impossible to break someone using TV anymore because there’s no where to go anymore.”

EP41 – The Boy With Tape On His Face

“There’s been 4 versions of ‘The Boy’ and I have to keep doing that because the audience wants something new, but also I have to keep myself interested. But it’s always me at 9 years old.”

“I think people have forgotten how to play, so for me, I force myself to imagine new things every day because it’s a muscle you have to keep in really good shape”

“I love street performing. It’s the politest form of daylight robbery there is.”

“It’s always good to have an agent who has a long game approach rather than the ‘do this TV spot, where’s my commission?’ approach”

“It terms of social media marketing I put Twitter right at the top because after my first Edinburgh I realised that used well it’s a great marketing tool. The Twitter side of things are stronger than some reviews.”

EP 42 – Jeremy Lee (JLA) – How To Crack The Corporate Comedy Circuit

“Comedians want to do corporate gigs for money. It’s silly to pretend otherwise. I’ve never been a stand up, so make allowances about that, but I think playing a room that hasn’t come to see comedy and doesn’t know who you are is sexier than playing a room full of fans, comedy fans or festival goers. Because you are going to walk out of there on their shoulders and with no fans. It’s the difference between preaching to the converted or to a new group of people. That has to be exciting, unless you want it easy you’re whole life.”

“Lets boil it down to two things: money and challenge. And in the inforgraphic money would be much bigger than challenge.”

“it’s much better pay than the club circuit and always will be. The corporate circuit has always been regarded as a place where talent earns the most money. It certainly pays more than telly.”

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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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