73 invaluable bits of advice from the most influential people in comedy.

Ask The Industry Podcast Comments

73 invaluable bits of advice from the most influential people in comedy.

Happy 3rd Birthday to us!

To celebrate, here’s stand out quotes, hints, tips, tricks and nuggets of advice from the last year of the Ask The Industry podcast.

Please do remember to give the show a review in iTunes if you haven’t already – they really help. And if you have £1 to donate you can do it as a one-off via Paypal or on Patreon per episode. Patreon subscribers are the life blood of the show and keep the thing going, so please do consider signing up (it is nearly Christmas after all).

Dec 2017

EP69 – Michael Redmond – How he accidentally became a cult figure.

“I moved to London because there weren’t enough gigs in Ireland. I’m not sure I could have made it if I had stayed.”

“When I started Jongleurs were the club to play along with the Comedy Store. I avoided applying for much longer than all my peers to make sure I would have a set that really stormed it.”

EP70 – Barry Ferns and Sarah Pearce – Angel Comedy – How to build a community-led comedy club.

“I decided to take the money I was losing traveling around the country doing Mirth gigs to 5 people and lose it on my own terms and start a comedy night.” – Barry

“I see loads of well run paid for nights and loads of badly run paid for nights. It has nothing to do with if you’re free or not, it comes down to quality.”  – Sarah

“People ask ‘how does the finance side of running a free night work?’ when they should be asking ‘how do you become a stand up?’. You become a stand up by performing and there are fewer and fewer places and chances to do that in London and around the country.” – Barry

Jan 2017

EP71 – JD Henshaw – Founder of Sweets Venues

“I’m looking for someone who knows what they want from the Fringe. That doesn’t mean they have 10 years of circuit experience it means they are self-aware and have a plan. That plan could be getting a tour or it could be wanting to work up to an hour.”

“This is a pay-to-play festival. So you should come with a view to developing your voice and work and not with profit in mind. I’m not saying you shouldn’t want to break even or make money, but that’s the gravy.”

EP72 – Ben Venables – Editor at The Skinny – How to get your show noticed / reviewed.

“I see loads of different types of comedians and sketch groups at the Fringe and what worries me is that there’s nowhere for a lot of them to go on TV. Not that TV is the natural progression.”

“We don’t go to shows that we don’t think are ready and that involves a judgement call on our part, but we do have the comedians best interests at heart. Every show I go to I want to give at least 4 stars to.”

Feb 2017

EP73 – Chris Sussman – The future of comedy at BBC Studios from the Head of Comedy.

“Thousands of people want to write for TV and radio but there’s only a limited number of slots so inevitably there’s going to be people who are frustrated and think the process doesn’t work. But there has to be some sort of filtering mechanism and the agents sort of act as that for us.”

“This industry is about having people fighting your corner.”

“Look at how many channels there are these days. If you can’t find 1 that will make your idea, it’s time to find another idea.”

EP74 – Toby Hadoke – What the Manchester comedy scene has that London circuit doesn’t…

“We started charging 50p and that made the club because everyone who had paid watched the stage because they wanted to know what they’d paid for.”

“I think there’s a lot less of an appetite for live stuff because people are watching stuff for free from home.”

“I’ve noticed people are more happy to spend a little more on someone they know than take a risk on a smaller unknown person for less money 2 or 3 times a month.”

March 2017

EP75 – Paul Weedon – Red 24 Management – Can comedians be TV presenters?

“I started because I felt like the industry was focused on the top talent of presenters and I wanted to bring through the next generation of presenters. And we’ve grown from there to voice over and acting and of course comedy for the same reason.”

“Forget the money, we’ve all got bills to pay so I get that,but forgetting the money for a second. The key question anyone needs to ask themselves, where do you want to be in 20 or 30 years time? Always make choices based on the longevity of your career.”

EP76 – Mark Tughan – Founder of the Glee Club – How to create a credible comedy chain

“In 1986 I was going to comedy all the time at the Comedy Store and Jongleurs and I saw that comedy was changing and changing for the better. And I just thought… I want to be apart of this.”

“I think of the Glee as part of an elite set of what I’d all the credibles. The Glee, The Store, The Stand.We’re the guys who have navigated the business side of things.”

“About 70% of what we do and our profit is from mixed bill comedy nights on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights which are exclusively booked by Off The Kerb.”

April 2017

EP77 – Aditi Mittal – India’s first professional female comedian.

“The cliche is that women always talk about babies and periods and I talk about periods and babies and I hope for the next 25 generations of female comics they talk about periods and babies because not nearly enough has been said about periods and babies that has been said about dicks and blowjobs.”

“We should be allowed to talk about anything we want to talk about. Silence is our greatest enemy.”

“Coming here blew my mind. The number of clubs, promoters and people. In India we have a healthy 70 people doing stand up. And that’s with a population of over a billion.”

EP78 – Ryan Taylor – Head of comedy at the Pleasance – What makes a “Pleasance act”.

“I don’t want to be in the big 4. We’re not even the biggest. There’s venues much bigger than all of ours at this festival.”

“I never understand people who say we charge X amount for this or that because it’s just not true. All our deals and splits are published online for anyone to see.”

“I don’t get paid much for what I do but I don’t do it for the money I do it because I love it and there’s only about 8 full time members of staff here. So we work all year round not just at the Fringe.”

May 2017

EP79 – Vladimir McTavish – the secrets behind The Stand

“I used a stage name because I didn’t want people knowing I also booked gigs. It seemed like an easy solution at the time.”

“The Stand is run by comedians, for comedians. And that’s one of the big differences of us vs a lot of other clubs around the country.”

EP80 – Midlands Live Circuit Panel Special.

“I’d seen a few gigs and thought, that’s easy.Making people laugh. So I gave it a go and after two gigs I thought… nah. I’ll be a promoter.” – Glenn Gaddy

“TV credits help because you can say ‘as seen on’ but people are more likely to take a punt on someone new now. It depends on what you put your ticket price at.” – Adam Rushton.

“I’ve got Lou Conran doing her show with me and she sold 20 tickets overnight because she was on First Dates.” – Red Redmond.

“What annoys me is when a promoter advertises an open spot but says you need to have done at least 100 gigs. That’s not an open spot, that’s an unpaid 10.” – Alex Hylton

June 2017

EP81 – Carl Donnelly – Death, divorce and stand up

2007 is when I went full time but I was poor. It took another year or so to earn enough money to not be feeling anxious about money all the time.

“I didn’t think I was good enough when I went full time. And I still often don’t feel good enough to do this as a job”

“You’ll always feel like the open mic act in some green rooms. If you put me on a weekend spot at the Comedy Store with Jeff Innocent and I’ll feel like a 10-year-old. But I think that’s an exciting thing when it happens.”

EP82 – Dan Berg – The future of online comedy streaming from the founder of Next Up

“When picking crowdfunding incentives ask yourself ‘if my family or friends were not buying this, would it be worth the amount I am asking for?’ or even ‘would I pay this amount for it?’”

“The emphasis at Next Up is on quality rather than someone being a big household name.”

“We see that a lot of stand up for TV is very clinical and we didn’t want ours to feel like that. We wanted it to feel like you’re in the room.”

July 2017

EP83 – Brendon Burns – What’s the difference between joke theft and parallel thinking?

“You start a podcast, and eventually it morphs into what it’s going to be.”

“I often have my wife or my son on the podcast and ratings are way up for those episodes. And they argue that it’s fans of mine wanting to see more of an insight into my life, which would be the case if the social media response wasn’t so much higher when Bean or Luke are bouncing off me. And if you google my name, the number one suggested search is ‘Brendon Burns wife’.”

“I’ve lived through PC culture before and last time the backlash was grunge music and alternative comedy and this time it’s Trump in the White House.”

EP84 – Richard Herring – How to build an audience through podcasting.

“I started podcasting because I realised it was easy and thought that maybe if people enjoyed it they’d give me a radio show.”

“If you can get the listeners to give you a small amount every time they listen. Even if it’s 10p it means you can do great things.”

“You have to stop thinking you’re competing with other people because you’ll never be happy otherwise.”

“Without the podcasts I don’t know where my career would be.”

“A comedians attitude is just as much of a problem as the things that are wrong in the industry.”

Aug 2017

EP85 – Nick Ranceford-Hadley – What’s it like to start your own talent agency?

“The circuit is a meritocracy if everything else was equal. But all things aren’t equal. If you’re a 25 year old bloke you might not mind getting the late night train home with the drunks. If you’re a 25 year old woman, you might.”

“No matter what technology comes along, I don’t care. I only deal in content. So whatever platforms come out I just need to make sure that I can make the content. Content is king.”

“A 30-minute prime time show is going to cost £400,000 to make. If you have 400,000 subscribers paying £1 you can make that. This will happen.”

EP86 – Sam Bain – How to write BAFTA winning sitcoms.

“Agents are the gatekeepers. They provide the service of being the first filter to the industry. If you want to write you have to get an agent.”

“If you had a YouTube channel with a million hits you’d have a level of credibility approaching TV channels that means you might not need an agent.”

“We used to write pages and pages of backstory for characters but with experience, we now just write one line. And that line encompasses how that character see’s the world. Mark is scared of everything. Jeremy thinks he’s the best at everything.”

“Peep Show has only ever been a hit critically. The viewing figures were never high. But as viewing figures, in general, have gone done ours look a lot better so we have more bargaining power.”

Sept 2017

EP87 – Chris Evans (not that one) – Founder of Go Faster Stripe – How to sell your digital download of your show.

“I don’t think about the commercial element at all. I just record the shows I like.”

“Selling direct to fans wouldn’t be possible without the internet. But now we can go out and find people easier and as long as the act is good that’s all you need.”

“I don’t want to put a copyright on files because I trust them.  It’s almost like I’m treating people like adults.”

“If you can put extra jokes in the recording that you can’t get in the show that makes it worth buying and worth watching because you get an extra laugh.”

EP88 – Milton Jones – How to make a career as a one-liner comedian.

“I don’t actually like having a birthday party sometimes because I don’t really like being the centre of attention”

“When I am on panel shows, I don’t play the game. And I think editors like that. And I think people get that part of the joke is I am not with them.”

“We couldn’t sell House of Rooms to the BBC because everyone saw it as a ‘channel 4 thing’ even though the commissioner at channel 4 hated it.”

“When I started doing TV, I had to triple my output.”

Oct 2017

EP89 – Nica Burns – The secrets behind the Edinburgh Fringe Newcomer Award

“I think people trust the awards because we are so meticulous and we don’t care where your venue is or who you are.”

“In 1984 I saw every single show that was eligible for the award. Now… you couldn’t do it. We had 700 eligible awards this year [2017].”

“I think the awards have been a big contributor to get journalists to take note of comedy because there’s a story… this person won a big award. And it annoys me that all too often the first thing to get cut from a paper is the comedy section.”

EP90 – How to bring a show to the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

“We’re still the alternative to the Festival much the way the Edinburgh Fringe started.So you can come and see work that will change your life in a small venue rather than a massive venue.”

“We aren’t a nation who tip. And in Australia free means free. There’s a certain culture of knowing what things are worth. And they would think that free means bad.”

“Find out what the cheapest cinema ticket price is and never price yourself below that. You need to make sure the audience is getting value for money but that it’s not over priced and that’s a great way of estimating prices.”

Nov 2017

EP91 – Helen Stead – Founder of NCF Comedy – The differences in comedy audiences between places in the midlands

“We have no dedicated venue we are able to take a show out to any venue and make it a great show for any space and size and really take it out to the community.”

“Free shows work at a festival because they’ve gone to the festival to watch comedy. I don’t think it works as well outside of festivals because people can just wander in and were no in the mindset to watch shows”

“We get between 40 to 100 applications from every spot. We’ve had our inbox crash due to getting so many applications.”

EP92 – Mike Leigh – Free digital content and the impact on the careers of artists signed to MLA.

“I wanted to work my own hours and earn the money I am bringing in. That’s why most agents start their own thing.”

“It all comes back to live. So Richard Herring, a great talent, he’s been around ages. Instead of waiting to get asked to make a radio show he started making podcasts and I’d assume he makes that money back from selling out his shows.”

“Over half of our Manchester United podcast listeners live in the US, so we can’t get any UK advertisers, but we have one for a local team with a really active small audience which we make MUCH more on because there’s a targeted audience.”




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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