Getting a Reference…

I’ve been fortunate enough to sell a lot of copies of Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage from people putting in a good word about my book to others (thank you!).   Most comics like helping others in whatever way they can though we’re very selective.  The best thing we can do for each other is to help one another get stage time.  Other comics will help you get professional stage time for two main reasons:

1.  Your act is funny and respectable.

2.  You’re a nice person.

It’s much easier to be a nice person, but that usually isn’t enough to earn stage time.  In fact, sometimes people get bigger breaks by being nice looking.  Helping a funny comic get the attention he or she deserves can be hard.  Hell, it’s hard enough to get your friends to listen to a CD you really like.  If this comic you recommend has a bad set, your credibility is blown.  If they’re the least bit hacky, your credibility is blown.  If they have a “trademark bit” that’s stupid, (it might even do really well) your creditability can still be blown.  Pros know this and aren’t always willing to put their credibility at risk.

In my book I describe the most common ways to start working at a new club or one-nighter.  The easiest way is to have another comic talk to the booker for you.  Sometimes you don’t even have to  make a call.  That’s why it’s so important to get along with everyone.  This includes not talking about them (people in the business you don’t like) to others in a negative way.  It’s easy to be baited into gossiping about someone another comic actually might be friends with just to see what you say about him or her.  Often times we like the comic, just not their act.

If it feels like no one is helping you out no matter how nice you are…well, it’s reason #1.  You’re not quite there yet.  I had so many features and headliners put in a good word for me when I was an emcee getting other emcee weeks from ’01-’05.  During the ’05-’07 phase of my career, I finally found my voice and could feature at one-nighters and B-rooms, but none of the headliners I had worked with as an emcee knew that.  It’s taken until the last couple of years for headliners to finally feel confident enough to refer me without risking their credibility.  I understand this completely and looking back I wouldn’t have been confident in referring me either.  You have to be patient, really funny, and then more patient, nice to everyone, even funnier, and then even more patient.

One final warning…if you’re using someone as a reference, be sure they’re actually going to put in a good word for you.  The easy way to be sure is if they offer to be your reference instead of you asking.  (I know this entry dances around a bit, sorry, but that last part is what you should remember most.)  You don’t want bookers contacting someone who is hesitant or has even a bit of doubt in their voice.

Thank you again to everyone who has spread the word about my book and this blog.  I’m a few Amazon orders away from cracking the top 100,000 in sales rankings which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but is to a guy typing away next to a cereal bowl and a pile of laundry on a Monday morning.

This week this blog will hit 10,000 views which I’m pretty happy about. Two weeks ago was the second highest weekly total I’ve ever had. I’d like to thank Eric Yoder as well as The Comic Bible Magazine for sharing my book on their Facebook pages (Eric’s post led to 534 blog hits on a Sunday!). So to everyone who has shared and allowed me to share in your Facebook group, thank you.  Though a few of these entries are common topics, they aren’t taken from my book directly. They’re only here to scratch the surface and give you an example of my writing style.

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About Rob Durham

With an English Degree, three years as a doorman at the Columbus Funnybone, over a decade of stand-up experience, and a recent certification in teaching high school English class, writing a book seemed like the next inevitable step for Rob Durham. The son of a coach, Rob has an excellent ability to teach and explain things in the easiest and most direct way possible. His (often labeled ridiculous) memory allows him to think of every possible situation that a new comic might face because at one point he was there too. Rob gives an inside look at comedy that doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges every performer faces. Without ego and the myth that “anyone can do it” Rob gives the reader a true feel of what living the so-called dream feels like, from preparing for that first open mic night to touring the country. View all posts by Rob Durham

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