I always appreciate questions from my readers that I didn’t cover in Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage. This week someone asked whether they thought it was a good idea to post Youtube videos of your act. A lot of variables go into this one starting with what level you’re at professionally. Headliners need clips online because often a club will promote their video on their webpage or before a show as a preview for next week’s act. Some comedy fans do a little research on who’s going to be there (I wish more did) and whether that person is up their alley. I had a few people in Indy (Crackers) tell me they googled my name and found me before buying tickets, and I was just the feature act.
As a feature, it’s good to have a few clips up to send to bookers in order to expand your list of venues. Yes, there is a chance that someone’s going to steal your joke, but at least you have proof that you were doing it first (plus Carlos Mencia has cut down on that lately). Unless you’re doing something really out there, it’s not going to go viral nor will you be likely to gain some massive internet following. Stand-up just isn’t as funny in a small box.
Finally, as for those just starting your professional career or still at the open mic level, I think posting clips is kind of like an 8th grader giving everyone a wallet photo of himself. Sure, it’s okay now, but in just a short matter of time, everyone including yourself, will realize how awkward and “not quite there yet” the clip is. People can (try to) do some awful things to a youtube video (ask my comic friends in Kansas City). Sure you might get some feedback, but isn’t that what a crowd is for? Most open mics sound like they have less than twenty people there and the only strong acoustics come from some drunk girl four feet from the camera. It’s important to record, but you don’t need to share it with everyone.
Am I saying 100% do not put your clips up? No. If you can handle the unfair, out of context feedback with the risk of it coming back to haunt you or someone stealing it someday…put them up. I lean towards not doing it.
As for me, I did have a clip up from 2009, but on the ninth day of school this year my students (freshmen) started quoting things from my act. Video down for now. Depending on your day job, it could affect you professionally. Perhaps the best route would be to put things up for a limited time and then take them down. Post, get whatever feedback or validation you want for a week, remove.
Honestly, I’d like to hear other comics’ opinions on this one so feel free to share why or why not.