Getting Stand-up Comedy Gigs From Video Submissions

02 Jun

stand-up-comedy-dvdI have to say that over the course of my stand-up comedy career, I got relatively few stand-up comedy gigs overall from submitting videos and a comedy resume.

Most of the work I got was from showcase gigs, performances with other comedians who ran comedy rooms, referrals from established comedians or in the corporate arena, from audience members who attended a show or referrals from those shows.

One of the reasons why most talent professionals would prefer to see a comedian perform live (and multiple times if possible) is because they know that video can be deceptively edited to make a comedian look far better than they actually are on the live stage.

Here’s a story from my past to illustrate what I am talking about:

I was already an established and proven comedian with the Coach House, which had three large venues at the time.

One of those venues was the 1000 seat Ventura Theater. I was booked for a feature act spot there, working with a headline comedian I didn’t know.

The show that I was booked for had about 600 people in the audience, seated well and concentrated near the stage. Basically it was ideal for a stand-up comedy show.

The opening act for that show was powerful and did well. I was next and did very well for my 30 minute set.

The headliner then hit the stage and after just 15 minutes over half the audience had walked out.

After 25 minutes, the headliner concluded his show (which was supposed to be 45 minutes) – the heckling from the remaining 100 people had simply gotten out of hand because his show simply wasn’t funny at all.

Later I found out that the comedian was hired from a video tape and resume he had submitted. The talent booker was new and thought the tape was worthy of the hire as a headliner comedian.

The reality was that this comedian’s demo video had been highly edited, providing only short snippets of the very best parts of that comedian’s act, but wasn’t anywhere close to the individual’s actual proficiency on stage – especially for an extended headliner set.

In essence, in a single performance this comedian eliminated his chances of ever working for that chain of great venues again.

And that particular talent booker never considered hiring another comedian from an edited tape again.

Here are some key points I want to make:

Video, whether it be a DVD or online format remains a viable means to get stand-up comedy gigs.

For those talent agencies or talent buyers who accept videos, usually they want to see uncut or unedited performances (whether it be 1-2 minutes or 15-30+ minutes).

And don’t be surprised if they ask for unedited video that starts immediately after the comedian has been introduced and starts their show.

It is prudent for a comedian to have longer unedited or uncut versions of their recorded stand-up comedy act should that sort of longer set be requested.

Note: Edited videos or “montage” clips blended together can potentially raise a red flag among those talent agencies or other entities that are seasoned and are aware that edited videos don’t necessarily accurately represent what a comedian can actually do on stage – especially for longer performances.

Video will never replace live stand-up comedy performances that rock the room consistently when it comes to being considered for stand-up comedy gigs.

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Posted by on June 2, 2013 in How To Do Comedy


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