Should I give myself a stage name?
No. Here’s why…Giving yourself a stage name is the quickest way to lose the respect of your comedy peers and the club managers. Matt Behrens, manager of the St. Louis Funnybone states, “Any time you spend working on your stage name rather than working on your material before ever telling a joke…that’s a problem. Learn how to play the instrument before you write a song.”
Art Veiluf, a retired comedy club manager, says just at the mention of comics with stage names, “I see no point in it. A stage name is unwarranted in a young career. If you give yourself a stage name, be prepared to change it a bunch of times because you haven’t found your voice yet.”
But what about the comics who have stage names? The two that we hear most about in today’s comedy scene are Carlos Mencia (Ned Arnel Mencia) and Larry the Cable Guy (Dan Whitney). Personal opinions aside, those are easily two of the least respected comics out there today for accusations of stealing jokes and dumbing the art form down to the lowest common denominator. But they make money don’t they? They do. You won’t. You’ll never get the chance to even host a show at your home club because the club owner won’t take you seriously. Bottom line, don’t be like them.
Stage names in comedy are becoming outdated. Leave them behind with your rainbow suspenders and jokes about airline food. At this level in your career, a stage name is not going to give you any extra positive notoriety. If you’re remembered, it will be in a negative light. It’s not too late to drop your stage name if you already have one. Former Last Comic Standing winner John Reep started out as the “Hickory Dance Machine” and wisely got rid of that title years before his career took off. Fifteen years later some comics still rip on him about it.
There are a few exceptions to the rule. If your name is so long and complicated that no one can pronounce it (Greeks?), it might be worth shortening up, although Costaki Economopoulos seems to have overcome it very nicely. Perhaps if you share a name with a celebrity it would be a good idea to tweak it to something different. It’s important that you don’t choose something that sounds like a stage name. Think how ridiculous a lot of morning DJ’s sound when they introduce themselves as Swift Windy and Ted Storm.
Follow the lead of the successful comics out there today and stick with your real name. Once you finally start earning money it makes check cashing a lot easier.
This tip has to do with that balance you must maintain of gaining respect from the club managers, the other comics, and the audience. I stress the importance of and how to keep this balance in my book, Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage (Available on Amazon, Kindle, Nook, and iTunes).