5 quick tips for writing your first bio

So you’re finally getting some paid shows and you’ve got a webpage or at least an “about me” section somewhere that let’s people know you’re a comic (because you took my advice and removed “Comedian” from your Facebook name).  Just like the advice in my book, Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage, I’m not going to tell you how to be funny (there are other books that attempt to do this, mine covers everything else), but instead give you some guidelines and include a few things to avoid in your bio.

1.  Do not include the words brutally honest.  It’s the most overused phrase in bios.  All of our acts are brutally honest.

2.  Write in third person but don’t acknowledge that you feel uncomfortable writing in the third person (we all did this on our MySpace profiles because we thought we were funny and original back in ’04).

3.  You don’t have any real credentials yet, so don’t try to make anything you’ve done sound important…winning a local contest isn’t going to impress bookers.  I learned this the hard way when a headliner laughed at one of my early bios while reading it off of his laptop in the tiny green room at Joker’s in Dayton (may it rest in peace). 

4.  Self-deprecation is good but don’t just bash yourself to the point of sounding pathetic.  Lean towards subtle and avoid trying to be over the top with anything.  Perhaps you could even mock a credential if you feel you must include one.

5.  Keep it brief.  The less you write the less there is to mess up.  Five to seven sentences is plenty early on in your career.  Remember, you don’t want to take yourself too seriously at this point.  You simply want the reader to chuckle a bit and see that you can, in fact, be funny.

Writing a bio can be tough and I should point out that I hate mine.  My bio (it’s the 2nd paragraph under all the book stuff) isn’t going to get me any extra work, but it’s good enough to where it’s not going to lose any either.  It lets people know my age (if they do the math), a few modest credentials (name-dropping), and a few topics I cover in my act.

That concludes this week’s advice (and overuse of parenthesis) .  Here are a couple announcements…Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage is now available on iTunes, and I’ll be working with Moshe Kasher at the St. Louis Funnybone this week.  I’ll be selling and signing books after the show.

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