I recently ran into a friend from the comedy scene. This friend works with actors and helps them cover the basics before they actually go out to try and sell themselves to agents, producers, casting directors, etc.
It really speaks to the lack of awareness many comics have for the industry.
This conversation went more into the need to be prepared and made me realize something; in this business, we are ALWAYS auditioning.
The “audition” starts sooner than you think.
Most comedians have the misconception that an audition starts when you go in front of your audience and then just do your set and go. WRONG.
An audition starts when you make that first point of contact. The first point of contact happens in many ways. Maybe you submitted a tape in hopes to be cast for a show? Or you coincidentally run into someone who has a potential opportunity?
These moments are where things truly matter and this is where most comics fail.
For example, I cast for our shows at Gotham and will usually receive two to five inquiries a week for submission. Nothing wrong with that, however, many comics make the mistake of just asking for a spot or sending a tape with no message. I had a comic send an inquiry last week saying they wanted to be on a show and no tape or website for reference. I had to ask for the tape outright and he later attached the link. Let’s just put it this way. If you are coming to someone in hopes for an opportunity, have everything ready: tape, credits, message, etc. If someone has to ask you to provide something don’t expect that opportunity to move forward. You’ve already shown that you can’t deliver the basics.
“Likeability” in business does matter.
I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about polarity and how it relates to building your audience. While being popular as a performer is not the goal, as a business person, likeability does matter.
One of the things that stuck with from the conversation with the comic is that “you basically have to be someone that person would want to go have a drink with.” This “person” is the agent, producer, host, etc.; no one is going to give an opportunity to someone they don’t like. Plain and simple.
This is all done is a professional way, and it’s tough because many comics do not know how to balance the comedian mindset and the business mindset. The comedian mindset usually takes over when it’s supposed to be business and it can make it much harder to further the opportunities at hand. Sure, we are jokesters, but no one wants the clown around 24/7.
The audition only ends when you end it.
I can’t stress this enough, but how you communicate after a perceived audition makes such a difference. So many comics make the mistake of never communicating again when they receive rejection or finish a project. They don’t realize they are inadvertently closing the door on opportunities when they cease communication.
Hey, even I’ve been the culprit of this in my first years of comedy, but you learn from it and learn to fix that. It doesn’t mean you bombard the person with continual messages about opportunities. You might check in every now and again, but you let them know the door is always open.
Even if it’s a rejection, refrain from burning bridges. You never want a momentary ego trip to result in a missed future opportunity or worse...a bad reputation.
The audition process is a lengthy one and you should always be mindful of it. Many comics audition dozens of times before finding the right opportunities that make sense for their careers.
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