The stage is a comedian’s shining moment. When we perform, it’s about our craft and showing our truest selves so that (hopefully) the audience will love us and our material. It’s our time to connect and influence so we can extend our level of impact as an artist.
However, comics often think it starts and ENDS there and that they don’t have to do anything off-stage in order to keep that reach going. BIG MISTAKE.
The stage is just a small part of the equation and even with a great set, you can be easily forgotten in a lineup of comedians. Here are some easy tips to make sure you remain memorable off-stage. Introduce yourself with your full name. Networking is such a huge part of building your personal career and it’s important to do it in a way that automatically separates you from others. The starting point is how you introduce yourself. Many have found it peculiar, but I ALWAYS give my first and last name when meeting someone new, whether it’s another comedian, producer, etc. Giving your full name in this business allows people to have a better chance of remembering you. A name is so important to research and find out more about you; that’s ultimately what we want people to do if it helps our career. Some of us are not blessed with eccentric names. You may be another “Matt,” “Mike,” “Joe,” etc. Hey, I know at least five comedians named “Mike” on the NYC comedy scene alone, but imagine you are one of these Mikes and you happen to be in the same room networking with other guys named “Mike.” Someone with an opportunity will remember the ones who gave them the last name. The others won’t have a shot in hell.
If you think it’s too formal, it’s not, and you’ll have a better chance at seizing an opportunity over someone who goes about networking too casually.
Push Your Personality, Not your Career.
It’s a double-edged sword being so career-driven.
Don’t get me wrong, there are those who recognize when someone is driven and it’s attractive to a certain extent; such a drive can also be off-putting and many comedians, producers, agents, and so forth shy away from comics who ONLY make their career or the industry the talking points of a conversation.
I have met MANY comedians on the scene, but when I assess my relationships I can’t say that I actually know them. Even as a producer, the comics I felt I had an insight into beyond comedy were ones I’ve booked and often on a repeated basis. Most will practice booking the same way because they ultimately have to like you.
This is where pushing your personality comes into play. When people feel they can connect with you on a personal level, it makes them remember you in a positive way. Even if your personality is a bit eccentric, you can find a way to make it something a person can relate to which bodes much better than someone who is cold and only showing they want an opportunity.
Make it a point to meet the audience.
This is one that irritates me, but it’s the fact that most comedians DO NOT make the effort to establish a connection with the audience off the stage. Dane Cook is the best example in doing this correctly and he really has been one of the few notable stand-ups to make meeting the audience part of his job. You may or may not like his comedy, but you can agree he knows how to obtain and retain followers.
Even at our Gotham shows, some of the audience members do want to meet the comics and I’ve seen comedians on our lineups being told “you’re very funny,” or “you were my favorite tonight!”
Some comics stay for the whole show, whereas others just take off and leave, thus having no audience interaction. I get if you have other obligations, but if you have the time, MEET THE AUDIENCE. The comics who stay are more likely to be remembered, even if they weren’t the best, they still have the opportunity to establish the connection and potentially gain a follower.
Ignoring this aspect can prove to be detrimental to a comedians’ career because you ultimately have to build your following.
Got questions or something to add? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!