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How To Promote Stage Comedy In a Geeky Way?

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the tragedy-for-the-masses dept.

Entertainment 123

shaitand writes "I recently went to a renaissance festival where a man (Arthur Greenleaf Holmes) performed some of the most obscene NSFW and hilarious comedy I've seen in a long while. The show was free and he had CDs and DVDs in his bag and accepted donations. I certainly gave one. But why is this guy doing niche fairs and not HBO specials? I contacted him and he said that he would love to break out and because of his costume he has trouble and the nature of his act he has trouble getting on to traditional stages. How would you promote such an act? On further conversation he said he is an avid supporter of free flow of information and strongly encourages pirating his work far and wide. Since he is primarily interested in making money with live performance and not media sales I thought if he took this to the next level and released a DVD under a creative commons license the exposure and interest generated might help him break into new forums with his act?"

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Well... (4, Funny)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a year ago | (#43586995)

sudo make funny

Re:Well... (1)

TrollstonButtersbean (2890693) | about a year ago | (#43587005)

"How would you promote such an act?"

I'd start with some marketing. And add some promotion into the mix.

[Stupid question deserves stupid answer. Really.]

Re:Well... (5, Insightful)

Xeno man (1614779) | about a year ago | (#43587097)

I'd post an article on Slashdot with a link to some of his material. Maybe post it in the form of a question asking how it relates to geeks in some way. That might spark some debate.

Re:Well... (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year ago | (#43587831)

That is only a start. Generally to push things forwards you should pay attention to what is most currently in the public's mind and 'effectively' target that, gutter politics. So the Texas fertilizer explosion, well, quite easy to twist that into inappropriate humour, the Koch(head) boys similarly no problem twisting that around, tar sands pipeline bursts and fracking gas leaks all ripe targets. Shove those at the rabid fundamentalist un-conservative and watch them go wild in their public attacks and 'er' free publicity.

Re:Well... (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#43588205)

Dude, where is your brain? You seem to have a hatred problem, suddenly spouting off like that apropos of nothing.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587121)

Almost. It's

sudo make funny | huzzah!

Re:Well... (3, Funny)

swanzilla (1458281) | about a year ago | (#43587379)

lewd_renaissance_dude is not in the sudoers file. This incident will be reported

Re:Well... (4, Funny)

VanessaE (970834) | about a year ago | (#43588065)

obligatory: http://xkcd.com/838/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587461)

error: No rule to make target `funny'

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587637)

Nerds don't let nerds make a funny.

Don't post it on Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587003)

It's not a site for people with humour.

Re:Don't post it on Slashdot (5, Funny)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | about a year ago | (#43587477)

It's not a site for people with humour.

10: OH I'd disagree,
20: I've been voted +5 Funny repeatedly on Slashdot. And that is proof that Slashdot users have humor, because I am funny, very funny, I know this because I have been voted +5 Funny repeatedly on Slashdot where people are well known for having a great sense of humor, I know this for a fact because well..... GOTO 20

Re:Don't post it on Slashdot (1)

rishistar (662278) | about a year ago | (#43587883)

Yes but you're being voted +5 funny by people who find themselves laughing a jokes with punchlines like 'And the funny thing was he was trying it with a TMS320c32 processor!'

Or maybe that's just me ;-)

Re:Don't post it on Slashdot (1)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | about a year ago | (#43587931)

Yes but you're being voted +5 funny by people who find themselves laughing a jokes with punchlines like 'And the funny thing was he was trying it with a TMS320c32 processor!'

Or maybe that's just me ;-)

I don't see the problem

;-)

Re:Don't post it on Slashdot (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about a year ago | (#43588045)

it doesn't run linux

Re:Don't post it on Slashdot (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#43589491)

Well, clearly he needed an extra ARM.

Re:Don't post it on Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43589289)

I'm sure the stats here would clearly indicate that I, yes, - I - have been +5 funny more than you!

Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587027)

But why is this guy doing niche fairs and not HBO specials?

Because Time Warner doesn't want to be targeted by outraged citizens complaining to Congress and the FCC, and because HBO executives don't want families with young children cancelling their subscriptions when they casually click on your friend's show.

Also, it could be that he isn't good enough. But if he is that good, maybe he could be playing the casino circuit. Seems that most states have legalized gambling now, if only to keep their citizens from blowing their paychecks across state lines, and many of those casinos have live entertainment. Since gambling is already an "adult" activity, a comedian or rapper would not be disqualified for being smut-mouthed.

Times Change, Markets Change. (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#43587277)

But if he is that good, maybe he could be playing the casino circuit. Since gambling is already an "adult" activity, a comedian or rapper would not be disqualified for being smut-mouthed.

The truth is that casinos have gone middle class and respectable: Upcoming Events at the Fallsview Casino [niagarafallshilton.com]

Re:Times Change, Markets Change. (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#43589501)

Wow, turns out Sheena Easton is still alive. How about that!

Re:Answer (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#43587283)

Umm HBO is cable, so no FCC issues. And have you seen some of the stuff they do? Not exactly kid friendly.

Now, HBO spends millions on promoting comics and they kind of expect to make it up in subscriptions (if the guy is funny even to a very specific audience he would be safe here – see Game of Thrones – hard to be more geeky than that.) and selling DVDs of said show – which the artist freely promotes the piracy of.

Now, I am not saying HBO is the only game in the town or that I like the way they play the game (I would love to just by Game of Thrones without the other bits) - but if you want to play their game you need to play by their rules.

Re:Answer (2)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year ago | (#43589219)

> And have you seen some of the stuff they do? Not exactly kid friendly.

Yep...

Game of Thrones
True Blood
The Sopranos

Somehow I don't think HBO would bat an eye at some off color jokes. Now make if this comedian was a hot young chick and willing to get naked on stage, then HBO might take notice.

Re:Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587427)

Most likely because he isn't funny enough to get one of the extremely limited number of specials that HBO is willing to do. Even if HBO were to do one every single night of the year, that would still only be 365 specials, and it wouldn't be surprising if there were over 400 better comedians out there.

What's more, the performer might just be too niche for the size of the audience that HBO needs to justify the time commitment of airing it.

Re:Answer (3, Interesting)

curunir (98273) | about a year ago | (#43587605)

HBO is the wrong place to start. All the comics there have some reputation from the clubs before they get on HBO. If he wants to move beyond RenFair performer, he should be trying to get his DVD in the hands of anyone who headlines their own comedy club shows. If one of them finds him funny, he might get a gig opening for someone with a bit more name recognition. The pay will be almost nil, but that's how people build their reputation to the point where HBO will pay any attention. Even then it's a bit of a long shot...the opening act from the show I saw this past Friday had already been on HBO.

Another option to explore...contact Netflix and offer the DVD royalty free for a year or so. If they accept it, urge anyone and everyone you meet to 5-star it in the hopes that it starts showing up as a suggestion to a wider audience.

But I wonder if his stuff isn't really that funny outside of the RenFair setting. In the context of a RenFair, that would be pretty funny because he's injecting humor into the scene that everyone is participating in. But outside of a RenFair setting, where people wear normal clothes and speak in their normal way, the humor won't play as well.

Re:Answer (1, Flamebait)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#43588551)

Until today I had no idea what a renaissance fair was.

I now know that it is something to avoid like the Black Plague. Cosplay with fuckwits is not really my thing.

Re:Answer (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#43587749)

Quite seriously, read some of his material. 99%, I'm certain, kids won't understand.

I think the main reason that he isn't on HBO is simply that 99% of the adults wouldn't either.

Re:Answer (1, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#43588063)

HBO executives don't want families with young children cancelling their subscriptions when they casually click on your friend's show.

What? I'm an Aussie and even I know HBO has had some great uncensored comedy acts (the late, great, George Carlin comes to mind as a prime example), if I'm not mistaken HBO is "The place" to been seen for an aspiring American stand up?

Re:Answer (2)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#43589537)

Yeah, but to get an HBO special, you already have to be pretty well established. The last time HBO gave specials to unknowns was back in the days when Rodney Dangerfield used to promote them on his HBO "Young Comedians" specials (helping start the careers of guys like Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay, and Rosanne Barr).

WTF?!?!? (3, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year ago | (#43587061)

First of all .. WTF is "Promote Stage Comedy in a Geeky way?" . To paraphrase a short green hairy dude "Promote or don't promote .. there is no geek in it".

Secondly .. he doesn't have an HBO special because (by your own and his estimation) he is not mainstream. No matter how much promotion you do, your potential audience will always be small if you only fill a niche.
 
Thirdly WTF is this doing here?!??!?

Re:WTF?!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587093)

Some noob discovered renaissance fairs, and wanted to share with /..

Re:WTF?!?!? (3, Informative)

Technician (215283) | about a year ago | (#43587103)

The modern geek way is to clean up the act, keep it really funny, and promote it on Youtube. It worked for Jeff Dunham. Who hasn't heard of the dead terroist routine?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uwOL4rB-go [youtube.com]

Would I go see this guy, you bet.

Re:WTF?!?!? (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year ago | (#43587127)

The modern geek way is to clean up the act, keep it really funny, and promote it on Youtube.

That isn't geeky .. thats just common sense as every man and his dog is posting on youtube now days . And I for one have not heard of the dead terrorist routine because I prefer David Strassman over Jeff Dunham.

Re:WTF?!?!? (4, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | about a year ago | (#43587197)

Jeff Dunham is depressingly unfunny, never mind that he bases his show on broad racial stereotypes. You'd go see that guy because you're a simpleton. And Jeff Dunham didn't achieve success because of YouTube. He's been in the business since the early 80s. He opened for Bob Hope in '83. Does that sound like somebody for whom YouTube self promotion worked? I expect no less stupidity from any fan of his routine. For the record, he's a very talented ventriloquist, but his comedy is about as lowest common denominator as it comes.

This! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43588441)

What he said!

Re:WTF?!?!? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#43588585)

he's a very talented ventriloquist

That's about as much of a recommendation as saying he's quite a good crooner.

I would never knowingly watch a ventriloquist, either live or on the internet. Ventriloquists are like clowns, but even less funny. And I fucking hate clowns.

Re:WTF?!?!? (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#43589555)

If you think *he* looks like a clown, wait until you get a look at a guy dressed as a renaissance jester reading vulgar poetry.

Local comedy clubs closing. (1)

witherstaff (713820) | about a year ago | (#43587227)

I've noticed the local comedy clubs have closed down. South Bend, IN Funny bone closed then Kalamazoo Michigan had a smaller club downtown that closed. Is this a national problem or just the bad economy in the area?

I saw Dunham at a local club before he got big, twice. He was a regular on the tour of local clubs I believe. I guess it was part of the right of passage for that job? Saw a stage hypnotist - with a member of our group getting hypnotized to have an orgasm with a tap on the forehead. Absolutely hilarious evening. Shame that entertainment option isn't around anymore.

Re:WTF?!?!? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year ago | (#43587271)

...and promote it on Youtube. It worked for Jeff Dunham.

Jeff Dunham (Jeff fafa dunn HAMMM!) promoted himself by paying for his first Comedy Central special himself. That was after he did Carson and then his career slowed down.

His shows sell out and he's done world tours. For the guy later down who says he's not funny, well, a sense of humor is a funny thing. Part of his humor is that he pokes so many holes on those unfunny racial stereotypes that it becomes funny. And pokes holes in himself.

One of the funniest bits he ever did was when he was using Achmed and Achmed Jr at the same time and Achmed's legs kept falling off the podium. Jeff kept calling the stagehand out to reset him, and after a couple of times the stagehand duct taped the legs down. The reaction from Achmed was hilarious. I think it was ad-lib based on Jeff's expression, but I don't know.

I think that was the same show where Achmed was telling him about his childhood and how he had a pet dog his dad blew up so it had no legs. Jeff asked him what he called the dog. Even knowing that joke, I was crying. "Really? .... Really? ... Did you just ask me..." Jeff played it so deadpan that the audience was in stitches.

Yeah, some of it I don't get, like Bubba J, but Walter is spot on and Achmed is right to be afraid of him.

Re:WTF?!?!? (2)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#43588565)

Who hasn't heard of the dead terroist routine?

Me. I assume that everything on YouTube is amateurish shit.

How un-Zeitgeisty of me.

Re:WTF?!?!? (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | about a year ago | (#43587225)

Fourthly,

released a DVD

A DVD? Really?

Re:WTF?!?!? (2)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43587917)

I like to think that geeks are a little bit ahead of the curve and have moved on from stand-up comics and improv (and sketch, for that matter -- which sort of peaked in the 90s) -- both of which I find extremely obnoxious and unfunny (with very few modern exceptions). I think most people tend to be growing into this same attitude, so there is not a broad enough space for that many successful "comics".

Re:WTF?!?!? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#43588601)

I like to think that geeks are a little bit ahead of the curve and have moved on from stand-up comics and improv (and sketch, for that matter -- which sort of peaked in the 90s) -- both of which I find extremely obnoxious and unfunny (with very few modern exceptions). I think most people tend to be growing into this same attitude, so there is not a broad enough space for that many successful "comics".

So geeks have moved on from boring old "funny" comedy to painful, puerile pseudo-Elizabethan smut? A-fucking-mazing.

Re:WTF?!?!? (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#43589591)

He should play in the hipster clubs. They would eat that shit up. Well, they would for about five minutes, until they moved onto the next fad.

Re:WTF?!?!? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#43588555)

Thirdly WTF is this doing here?!??!?

I assume Dice Holdings has a stake in RenaissanceFairs.com

Get him on to Big Bang Theory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587079)

It's a terrible, terrible show, but would give him mainstream cred. Now, if he was on Community, he'd have geek cred, but no one would see it.

Do it in gmod (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587125)

Seriously, why not? Make a server and build a stage, do stage comedy on it while dodging missiles, headcrabs, and server-crashing props.

Re:Do it in gmod (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587169)

I'm tired of "Citizen" and the only anternatives seem to be characters ripped out of Smash Brothers or some memes, so no thanks.

Obscene comedy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587139)

Am I the only one who thinks lowly of obscene comedy?

Not that it offends me, but for me the art is exactly in being funny *without* being obscene.

Re:Obscene comedy (3, Informative)

SirSlud (67381) | about a year ago | (#43587217)

I'd say what the submitter considers to be obscene is ... well, it's not obscene. Based on the description and the video on his website, the commedy is largely based on the juxtaposition of the blueness of the material and the persona of being a 1500's poet. I found the video rather amusing - I imagine it'd be fun to see live.

Re:Obscene comedy (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43587683)

I found it funny, when I was a teenager, now, no

there is a reason this guy is not making it, teenagers have no money

Re:Obscene comedy (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#43588625)

Am I the only one who thinks lowly of obscene comedy?

Not that it offends me, but for me the art is exactly in being funny *without* being obscene.

Judging by the examples on his website, he is actually less crude and smutty than the 16th and 17th century poets he is imitating.

Anyone who thinks that "obscenity" was invented in the late Twentieth Century hasn't read widely enough.

Wootstock? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587153)

If he's geeky enough, maybe he can get a spot with the Wootstock folk?

Underground Stage Acts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587155)

Make it cool to attend underground stage theater, like fight club

Re:Underground Stage Acts (2)

SirSlud (67381) | about a year ago | (#43587221)

The first rule of underground stage theater is don't post about underground stage theater.

Re:Underground Stage Acts (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#43589319)

My daughter's high school drama/theater class has a t-shirt like that. I forget the exact wording, but some theater variation of the fight club thing.

Mainstream and Free Flow (2)

jmd (14060) | about a year ago | (#43587191)

Maybe the reason he cannot get on HBO etc is because he supports the free flow of information. Last I checked the major media people hate pirating work as they believe it cuts into their profits. Kinda like Bradley Manning filling in for Jay Carney @ the White House.

Re:Mainstream and Free Flow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587303)

On the other hand, I believe the Wright Brothers were right into the free flow of information when they were trying to break into the airplane business. As soon as they had broken into the airplane buisiness, their attitude changed somewhat. So I wouldn't take too much notice of what this guy says now, when he is struggling to get noticed.

slash advertisement alert (0)

ruir (2709173) | about a year ago | (#43587233)

hey, I ticked off the ads disabled, this must be some slashcode bug.

Re:slash advertisement alert (1, Redundant)

JustOK (667959) | about a year ago | (#43588059)

yah, seems kinda dicey

Is this an advertisement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587259)

As someone who works in the entertainment industry, I can tell you this story is laughable. This is equivalent to posting on a professional acting website that you know an actor who makes great websites and you want to know how he can become the next Google. This has nothing to do with IT. Want to know why the guy is not famous? It's because he works at a Renaissance Festival. Good job plugging your friend and getting him lots of hits!

But why is this guy doing niche fairs and not HBO? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587263)

Because he's not funny? I watched the promo video on his homepage - didn't even smile. He seemed to spend more time talking about how inappropriate and risque his humor is than actually demonstrating it. For a promo video, it sucked, because it caused me to lose interest in ever watching the guy again. I hope his live act is better.

Re:But why is this guy doing niche fairs and not H (0)

quantaman (517394) | about a year ago | (#43587495)

Yeah, I'm 95% sure it's just the guy's buddy or agent trying to get some interest. If he's trying to attract fans a 'promo video' is a dumb way to do it, just find a video or yourself doing your funniest poem ever and post that, don't tell me you're funny and assume I'll believe you, just show it.

Holy fuck, slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587273)

Why post this? What editor thought it would be a good idea?

If you want to bring up creative commons, wait until something better comes up in the firehose. Or summarize two or three submissions.

Seriously, this is really very crappy. It's not remotely like what I expect from this site.

Re:Holy fuck, slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587387)

Seriously, this is really very crappy. It's not remotely like what I expect from this site.

You must NOT be new here.

Re:Holy fuck, slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587737)

I'm pouring hot grits down my pants as my speak. Not even a HOSTS file can protect against the power of hot grits!

Free Flow Of Information! (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about a year ago | (#43587355)

Except for when you're there in person. Then his information does not flow freely.

Re:Free Flow Of Information! (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year ago | (#43588665)

Except for when you're there in person. Then his information does not flow freely.

Freetards have never had a problem paying for labour, at the time. They just don't believe that you should have to pay the plumber a royalty every time you flush.

Paying for a concert is fine. Paying for a recording of a concert, that the person who made the recording is happy to share, is what they dislike.

Re:Free Flow Of Information! (0)

ScentCone (795499) | about a year ago | (#43589147)

Paying for a recording of a concert, that the person who made the recording is happy to share, is what they dislike.

They also seem to believe that when an artist offers up the work they've just spent years creating via a business model that does include buying a copy of it, that if they don't feel like paying for that copy, it's OK to just rip it off to show that artist how wrong headed they are. If all of those "freetards" had the intellectual integrity to not consume the work produced by people whom they judge evil for supporting the copyright system, then I'd have some sympathy. But people rip stuff off because they want it and don't feel like doing business with the work's creator on the terms offered. Think an artist is a fool or a jackass for asking a price for their recordings? Walk away and don't support them. But this is rarely about judging the artist's decisions about how to pay for years worth of studio work - this is mostly about jerks ripping off stuff they want because they can.

If he likes live standup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587399)

How about recording his shows and streaming them on those intertubes?

An ego in search of an audience (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43587417)

Sounds like an outsized ego in search of an audience. This guy should try a few comedy clubs in LA. If he gets invited back, maybe he has potential. If not, don't quit your day job.

Is this a trick question? (2)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year ago | (#43587485)

I contacted him and he said that he would love to break out and because of his costume he has trouble and the nature of his act he has trouble getting on to traditional stages.

Sounds like he knows exactly why he's having trouble getting mainstream gigs. If he wants to break out, he needs to apply his skills to more relatable material with a more mainstream presentation. That's how these things work.

Do you think all those boy band guys wanted to do that pop dreck? (God, I hope not.) But that was the opportunity presented at the time so they bent over and took the money.

In comedy, you pander to the crowd. Why else would Ron White drink so much? It's a tough gig and sticking to an act with narrow appeal is a death sentence.

Olden days (1)

Jetra (2622687) | about a year ago | (#43587491)

Barber Shop Quartets, can't get any geekier than that.

Why isn't he on HBO? (4, Insightful)

skine (1524819) | about a year ago | (#43587497)

He's not on HBO because the Renaissance fair crowd is a very small segment of society.

Your average person doesn't find mildly rude poems to be that funny.

And, yes, I did say mildly rude. Not "some of the most obscene NSFW and hilarious comedy I've seen in a long while." There is more obscene, NSFW, and hilarious period comedy in Blackadder - a prime time TV show that first aired 30 years ago this June - than in the clips that I've been able to find of him. We live in an era where "offensive" comedians turn to necrophilia jokes to shock audiences because pedophilia, incest, and rape jokes aren't seen as being all that shocking anymore. A sonnet about a knothole that looks like a vagina is the work of your average high school drama club member, not your average professional comedian.

This guy is exactly where he belongs; doing niche fairs.

Re:Why isn't he on HBO? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587937)

I'm also belonging to the Renaissance Fair crowd and do not think it's funny.

His poems are good, but what besides being dirty do they have? "Mommy, he said dick. Haha" does not do it for me.

His niche is fine: people who laugh about someone saying "pussy" when it was expected he would.

Re:Why isn't he on HBO? (2)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#43588705)

I think us non-Americans have to remember that "NSFW" in the US means a picture of a potential nip-slip from an "unlucky" actress in a bikini, not hardcore filth.

Re:Why isn't he on HBO? (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#43589337)

No, in the US now NSFW in a picture of anyone in a bikini.

Re:Why isn't he on HBO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43589291)

A small non Shelbyville crowd [simpsonswiki.net]

Marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587539)

Revise the act. Either make the costume work in context, or change the context to work with the act.

He performs NSFW poetry in a Ren Fest setting? Change the setting to something relevant right now: IE The Prancing Pony, Middle Earth. Everyone knows it, everyone's seen it.

Lose the costume? Change the act to make it more relevant, such as a satire on The Actors Studio.

Or just rock on doing what he does. Less soul killing.

Wait...what? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#43587553)

Are drama club scrubs trying to infiltrate this website and get a seat at the table?

NSFW? (1)

geezer nerd (1041858) | about a year ago | (#43587597)

This guy seems to be all about Renaissance Faires -- boring. If you want NSFW, then look for Kevin "Bloody" Wilson, an Australian performer whose act is pure raunch. DILLIGAF forever!

Cause (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587679)

spouting off cuss words and fuck / fart jokes only applies to those who have the mental age of 25

he is not doing big shows cause he is a drunk 40 year old with the mental age of a 17 year old which is funny to you, but no one else

fucking DUH

Art, Trade, & Craft -or- Pay, Fame, & Sati (3, Interesting)

breakpoint8088 (793374) | about a year ago | (#43587829)

Hi! I'm Matt "Breakpoint" Heck. You may know me as "Theodore" from the web series "Aperture R&D" (in which case I assume that's the point in the credits at which YouTube had to pause to re-buffer). Presuming nothing falls victim to arson during post-production, In a little under a year, you might see me in a film and a few other odd detours. If you lived on the Central Coast around, oh, 2001-2003, you might know me for doing stand-up comedy. If you've been to Burning Man over the last few years, you might have seen a 15,000 cubic foot helium airship I helped stick 200 feet over the Nevada desert with a Tesla coil concert under it. It's even VAGUELY possible you know me from my (cough) "music" with The Braindead Monkeys, featuring such classic tracks, god help me, as, "Terrorism!". And, if you clicked on the wrong link somewhere, there's a very outside chance you might even have read some of my short science fiction, in which case I'm very sorry, I didn't mean it, and they all lived happily ever after right after a thorough memory wipe, which I would offer you if I could.

However, in as much as I am ever actually cited or referred to anywhere, it's always from something I wrote (essays or code) in my professional capacity as (primarily) a software engineer. Far more people have used the touchscreen jukeboxes I did for Ecast, or the MPEG decoders I helped write for Xing (or, certainly, the DeCSS keys that were apparently lifted from them), or even the video games beta release I worked on, then are probably ever going to recognize my face or my voice, let alone my name. But even then, what DO people remember my name from? A few off-hand emails about Qt vs wxWindows (now wxWidgets) I wrote a long, long time ago, but which apparently had a larger effect than I had any right to expect. In other words, I am remembered for writing something that was really merely a step or so above a private message.

So, now that you know where I'm coming from, let me give you my take on a few things-- because "Silicon Valley" and "Hollywood" are going to overlap more and more, not less, and the overlap is cultural as much as it is technical. I spend some of my social time with other engineers, actors, writers, stand-up comics science fiction anthology editors, and makers (I helped run TechShop for a year or so). They all have one thing in common: burnout is a problem.

I would propose that practically everything you do in this world for love or money will fall somewhere on an equilateral triangle that we might label "Compensation", with these three vertices:
* Pay
* Fame
* Satisfaction

Somewhere on that triangle is a very specific spot where YOU would be happiest, and it probably isn't dead-center. Likewise, somewhere on that triangle is a spot where YOU are RIGHT NOW, and that is the sum of everything you are currently doing, and everything you have done.

Now, I'm not talking about your whole life, here-- hopefully your marriage isn't done for fame or money-- but I am talking about your (supposedly) 9-5 job, plus the "consulting" work that may or may not really reimburse you for the time you put into it but is damn cool, plus the hobbies and projects you participate in because you really, really want to.

The simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the time, the things we would like to do for pay, fame, and satisfaction do not do all three of those things. Often, they only do one of them. Worse, sometimes you go negative in a category. But the thing to realize-- and this can be maddeningly frustrating to try to explain to people who are more comfortable in (or more easily satisfied with, moo) their lives-- is that those things you do that you can't figure out why in the hell you bother? Those things that you still do even though it seems like they're just not worth it? We do a lot of those things to make the sum of EVERYTHING we do a little closer to where we'd like to be on that triangle.

Or at least, we SHOULD.

Now, I will readily assure you that when I was doing stand-up comedy, I was paid, on a good day, in beer. The day I got a raise was when they started giving me stuff that was still carbonated. I did not do stand-up for money, clearly. I was doing it in San Luis Obispo (and, very occasionally, L.A.), so there was some "fame" in as much as the pond was small. But it was VERY satisfying, at a time where my job was paying me very well, but driving me absolutely nuts.

Likewise, my part in Aperture R&D was indeed a paid part. But I was driving down from Oakland and staying in hotels to do it, which quickly cancelled that out. Would I have skipped doing it? Are you kidding?

The Braindead Monkeys not only has never paid me anything, I'm pretty sure it never can: the only plausible legal defense for that stuff is, uh, "art". Nonetheless, we are (SLOWLY) working our way through post-production on another album.

I think the purest example is writing, to tell you the truth. The bottom has COMPLETELY fallen out of the short science fiction market. Anthologies often fail to sell enough copies to pay the flat fees for their submissions. Any serious writer who needs to make rent better damn well start studying screenwriting. I've studied screenwriting, but I love character-driven short science fiction-- so, guess what I write.

There are a couple of ways to look at all this.

First, one could argue that I've scattered my time all over the place, and that as a result, I'm wasting my time, because none of them is going to get anywhere.
Second, one could argue that there are areas where I've opted to stay true to my particular perception of what makes "proper art" in a given area.
Third, one could argue that there are clearly things that I've just done for the fuck of it.

Each of these is partially true, but mostly false.

The first one any modern software engineer will immediately recognize as a load of horseshit. "Specialization" is recursive, and you can fall as far down the rabbit hole as you'd like. Computer Engineer? That's crazy, you should be a Software Engineer, a Computer Scientist, or an Electrical Engineer, you can't do all three. Software Engineer? Yeah, but in what? C++ AND Java? You must not be taking your career seriously, pick one! C++? Which version? You're not using the STL, are you serious? OK, which version of the STL are you using? Wait, did you specialize in last Tuesday's draft, or last *Wednesday's* draft...? Yes, you have to decide, at a coarse/course level, what you're going to focus on. But focus is not myopia, and anyone who gets fixated on anything will become a very narrow expert indeed. You have to decide where your time goes, clearly. Spending your time on your craft will pay off handsomely. But the idea that you will never be able to leverage time spent outside a handful of narrow topics is just wrong, for two reasons: time you enjoy wasting isn't wasted time, and it's hard to do anything you love often and not get better at it. These are things that are firmly anchored at the Satisfaction edge of the triangle. Overspecialization tends to be anchored firmly at the Pay edge-- when you can find work in it-- which is not a bad thing, but you will need something else to balance out your life. And Fame in overspecialization is simply a matter of fashion: if your trade is in vogue, you may be on a magazine cover; if it's not, you may be stuck in obscurity. It's important to decide whether or not either of those outcomes would bother you before you commit to the huge amount of time overspecialization inevitably demands.

The second one I can only lay claim to in engineering, though I'm trying to for writing, and I aspire to one day reach this in acting, and that is to have a strong and serious opinion of how the Art is done as Craft. I absolutely have some strong opinions about how software engineering should be done. Likewise, I have some very deep hunches as to how writing fiction and acting should be approached, that will hopefully mature into proper styles with some more practice and training. These are things I am doing to do them well. I want to learn to do them well for their own sake. I don't expect them to pay the bills. I find the act of doing them immensely enjoyable, but much more so when I know I'm improving.

The third one, believe it or not, is where stand-up comedy entered for me. Believe it or not, I do not have strong opinions about how comedy should be written and performed. I have some common suggestions: that you should never waste anyone's attention (this applies to your audience, your auditions, and even the chump in the coffee shop during the free open mic); that you need to write one hell of a lot of it, because Sturgeon's Law applies, and you can count on throwing 95% of it out; that you must have a tight three minutes ready on tap at all times (I no longer do). Not taking it too seriously is actually what enabled me to do it, and it's also why I didn't tour as a road comic, like my troupe-mate Scot Shields (who did rather well). My sets were mostly based on current events. The research, writing, editing, and rehearsal process was a hell of a lot of work, and if I had been counting on it to pay the rent, I'd have burned out. As it was, I tried very hard, but the truth is, I enjoyed the hell out of it whether or not I was making any progress. If my set went over well, hooray! Did I try anything new and edgy? Was I growing as a comic? Very likely, I didn't give quite enough of a shit about that, at least from my producer's point of view.

So, looking back on it all, and forward to more, here is my advice to you:

Do stand-up. It sounds like you are good at it. But do it for the right reasons.

Since you have decided you are not happy with the balance you currently have, decide which ONE of those points you are most looking for more of (Pay, Fame, or Satisfaction). Then, decide how much of the other two you are willing to lose.

If, for example, you want more Pay, and will happily yield Fame and Satisfaction, then the most straightforward solution is to start doing corporate functions and "issue skits" for public service announcements. These typically involve topics which are either incredibly bland or incredibly awkward, respectively, but they can pay well, and they will (eventually) yield a few new communications tools for audiences that don't react well. Work in these areas is often readily available because so many people just refuse to do it. You can leverage that.

If, on the other hand, you want Fame, and will yield everything else, you can always pull an Andrew Dice Clay or Robert "Bobcat" Goldthwait-- but beware that you will be stuck with that for a long, long time: quite possibly, much longer than comedy will be paying you for. (Bobcat produces movies now, apparently-- the next one is about Bigfoot.)

If you want Satisfaction, though, I would caution you that you may have already found it: you've found material you present well to an audience who adores you. I can assure you that if you want to move "beyond" what you're doing, you will be leaving some of that behind, at least for a while.

The one way to improve all of this is training and practice. Like any job, a large audition list gets whittled down to a smaller audition list partly by two things: resume and education. Better Paying gigs, even more so. Formal training is, at the very least, a sign of "taking it seriously", and being more reliable. This will result in a modicum of Fame among other comics you're working with who haven't bothered, and they will start to ask you questions. This means your name will come up a lot, even when you're working less, and that can be a big goddamned deal. The biggest benefit, though, is your own Satisfaction, as you realize you do, in fact, know what the hell you're doing. (Not so much from drinking the Kool-Aid as at least learning how it's mixed.)

Formally honing your craft, along with a good demo reel (which you should already have by now), will also make it easier for you to present yourself to an agent or manager. If they agree to represent you, you will start getting gigs and auditions thrown your way, *and you will be expected to accept them*. How do you get the gigs you want? Simple: you need to make it clear to your agent how those three priorities balance out for you, and they have to take that seriously. If they don't, get another one. The alternative-- changing your priorities-- is known as "lying to yourself", and is quite often accompanied by varying amounts of drug use and suicidal behaviour.

People like to talk about "going pro". What does it mean to "go pro"? I've decided there's actually a very, very simple answer to this.

You started doing comedy, most likely, for the same reason I did: your overall life was out of balance and you had a job that Paid but did not Satisfy. So you tried stand-up, and found it Satisfying, maybe had some fun with the Fame, and didn't care that it Paid jack shit. As such, even a small amount of it met your needs for Satisfaction and Fame-- something else Paid.

"Going pro" means flipping those two roles. Suddenly, comedy will have to Pay, which pretty much guarantees that it will do less of the other two. You will now have to hold a "day job" with flexible hours (for example, I consult, generally) so that you can bolt for an audition at the drop of a hat. I can pretty much guarantee you that your lifestyle will radically change, and you will become familiar with much, much cheaper bars for your off hours.

Since the entertainment business always involves trading on your name, you cannot completely forsake Fame while trying to "go pro"-- you will have to self-promote, yes, but more and more you will have to do things that get you "out there", and that can be where the Satisfaction falls off. You will have to drive to a few dozen shitholes three states away to perform for a few dozen people just so your agent knows you will, in fact, do so. After that, you will hopefully get invited back. At each of these, you will have to temper your act with your audience to ensure that you leave a positive impression with the club owners. This is very different from the open mic circuit, where you may rant as you please. Club managers don't usually throw out open-mic comics, they just consider throwing out the entire show. However, when you're doing something more serious, there are indeed lists you don't want to wind up on, and you can't do offensive material everywhere. If you have gone pro, and are serious about your craft, you will be expected to make comedy from arguments you want to make and points you need to convey, not a cesspool of foul language and eye-bleaching imagery; this can be a problem for some comics.

If you're "going pro", realize that Satisfaction comes much later: only when you can turn down jobs and still live comfortably will you have the flexibility to really do the material you want the way you want to do it-- to a point. However, it may be that you will derive substantial Satisfaction from the fact that you are doing it all. Getting paid to drive around seeing the country and telling jobs is indeed something to be a bit smug about. But it can be a rough ladder to climb, and for a long time, Satisfaction may elude you.

So, with all that said, what's the solution? Well, the solution is the same reason you started in the first place: your life is out of balance; find something to balance it out. In your off hours in those shitty motel rooms, do something just for the sheer satisfaction of it. Something that doesn't pay. Something that won't make you famous. Something you just like.

After all-- didn't you ever wonder why so many comics play guitar?

Best wishes,
      Matt Heck
      29APR2013

Does he need help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587869)

Seems like he's doing a fine job...

Networking is really a great tool in the entertainment business.

Well... (1)

king*six (2607999) | about a year ago | (#43587875)

It wasn't very good...

You don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43587895)

Geeks and humor is like hemorrhoids and assholes.

He's No Pam Ayres (1)

csrster (861411) | about a year ago | (#43587957)

Checked him out on youtube. Not bad, but inventively-obscene renaissance-themed doggerel is always going to be something of a niche market, methinks. Egad. Forsooth.

AKA "How do I market to geeks?" (3, Interesting)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#43587981)

AKA "How do I market to geeks?"

How can you possibly maintain the following train of thought?

(1) "I think renaissance faire people are geeks"
(2) "I think slashdot people are geeks"
(3) "these groups form an equivalence set"
(4) "ask slashdot how to market to geeks"
(5) "slashdot tells me"
(6) "market to geeks"
(7) "reach the renaissance faire target market"
(8) "Profit!"

Seriously, I hope that the OP doesn't think that geeks form a monolithic market block, any more than Anonymous all hold the same political positions on everything.

Re:AKA "How do I market to geeks?" (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#43588413)

Insularity. Being around people who think the same and shunning anyone who thinks otherwise. It leads to this sort of thing where the person cannot see outside the Self. It's called "solipsism" and is especially pronounced among the liberal media. There was a journalist who worked for the mainstream media who, 40 years ago, famously said "I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don't know. They're outside my ken. But sometimes when I'm in a theater I can feel them." The same attitude is alive and well today.

Re:AKA "How do I market to geeks?" (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#43588863)

Insularity. Being around people who think the same and shunning anyone who thinks otherwise. It leads to this sort of thing where the person cannot see outside the Self. It's called "solipsism" and is especially pronounced among the liberal media. There was a journalist who worked for the mainstream media who, 40 years ago, famously said "I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don't know. They're outside my ken. But sometimes when I'm in a theater I can feel them." The same attitude is alive and well today.

To be fair, if you're not self-obsessed you're probably not going to make it in the entertainment business. An absurdly over-inflated ego combined with an incredibly tough skin are both prerequisites for success in that field.

Where to start... (3, Insightful)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43588049)

why is this guy doing niche fairs and not HBO specials?

Maybe because you're not the ultimate arbiter of what's funny and what isn't.

How would you promote such an act? Moot question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43588111)

Terribly unfunny. No amount of /. mojo can change that.

Here's a joke for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43588271)

Why did that shithead cross the road?

To post this shit-ass, fake question on slashdot. Yuk yuk.

Perhaps we disagree on the meaning of 'free'? (1)

whydavid (2593831) | about a year ago | (#43588479)

If he is so into giving his stuff away for free, why does his website consist of a couple minutes of youtube clips and a link to, you guessed it, iTunes (where they decidedly do not give away stuff for free)?

Who cares? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#43588523)

A comedian (like any other performer/entertainer) needs a combination of talent, timing (being in the right place at the right time) and luck to succeed. There are many good comedians, musicians, writers, actors and poets who have never made any money, and achieved no recognition whatsoever.

I've not seen his stuff live, but judging by the website examples it's quite a niche (pseudo-Seventeenth Century erotic verse). Good luck to him, but he doesn't scream out "mainstream TV comedy".

Oh, and I don't give a gibbon's toss whether he releases his DVDs for free under a Creative Commons licence, or charges twenty quid for a heavily DRM'd verson. Being in favour of piracy is totally orthoganal to being a good comedian. You're either funny or you're not, and being geek-friendly is totally irrelevant.

It's the same with musicians. If they want to give their CDs/downloads away for free, good for them. It makes absolutely no difference to how good they are. You could give me a dozen free albums of country and western or Justin Bieber songs and it wouldn't make me want to go and see them play live.

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43588711)

Spend all your money, ask the EU for money, spend all their money, ask for more and threaten to go broke. Oh wait, he said Geeky...

It's a competitive world (2)

slim (1652) | about a year ago | (#43588741)

Firstly, congratulations on getting your guy's link onto Slashdot.

I've got news for you: there are thousands of comedians playing night after night in front of crowds of 100 or less. Many of them are subjectively better than most TV comedians. Some of them will break through. Some of them will spend the rest of their life doing it for the love of it. Some of them will make a living wage on it but no more.

There are well worn paths, and your guy seems to be on one. He's doing paid gigs.

Tentacles (0)

dohzer (867770) | about a year ago | (#43588805)

A few weeks ago the geeks at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival advertised by standing on the corner of the street with a fat rubber tentacle.
Hell, even the girl I was dating at the time wanted to find out more about tentacle rape.

It doesn't fit most TV formats (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about a year ago | (#43589171)

He's pretty good at what he does, and it's great that he's carving out a niche, but I have a hard time seeing it work as stand up on TV because all of the biggest laughs that he gets are from interacting with the audience or with other people on stage and that does not fit most standard TV formats where it's one person up on a stage.

Here's a clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R25DAYbgRVc [youtube.com]

According to Betteridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43589311)

The answer is no

Ze Frank Did It (1)

techsoldaten (309296) | about a year ago | (#43589517)

The most effective way to promote someone in a 'geeky' way is to do what Ze Frank does. His followers are rabid and participatory. I get the sense your entertainer relies on audience feedback as part of his act, and would do better if he was going back and forth with people who are interested.

So, create a blog, do videos. Speak directly on topics that showcase his brand of humor. Invite the audience to do contests, send in their favorite picture of an Earl or something. Have posts that are just about those.

Build email lists with notifications about new content. Track your audience and come up with conversion goals, which could be as simple as creating an account on the site and commenting.

Develop your social media channels. Get timely posts up on Facebook with some frequency. Announce upcoming shows and ask people who is coming. Create some interesting way for people to subscribe to his channels at shows - Yorik's skull with a bar code on the top would do it.

But think about traditional ways of marketing something online. That's what a geek would do.

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