What not to do on your Industry showcase

So the other night I had the privilege of being “industry” at a club in New York City.  I am industry because Side Splitting Productions hires comedians for clubs and private events.  In addition, with the radio show, you never know when somebody might catch your eye to be a character or recurring role.  I have been industry at this club before and I have hired several comics from these showcases.  I want to find new talent.  The business needs people to give new talent an opportunity.  The other industry person who was at the event wanted to find new talent as well.  We came up empty.

I did reaffirm my belief that I wanted to give the host who I had previously worked with an opportunity.  I also decided to give the one pro comic on the show an opportunity in the near future.  But the newbies…oy vey! 

First, if you are still required to bring people to see you perform as a means of you getting on stage then chances are you are not ready to work professionally.  This is not always the case but it is for the vast majority.

You are doing a five minute set.  Please remember the jokes for the 5 minute set.  For people who do not speak for a living 5 minutes is a very long time.  For somebody who aspires to speak for a living 5 minutes is very brief and you really need to know what you are going to say in that five minutes.  There are no paid spots on a comedy show that offers 5 minutes or less.  At minimum it is 10 minutes.  If you can’t remember 5 minutes how can you remember 10 minutes?

Don’t tell us how high you are or how drunk you are.  It might make your 5 friends giggle but as industry I am in the back thinking you couldn’t stay straight for this show where you are bringing people why should I think you are going to be straight when I hire you.  And pretending to be high is not an excuse for meandering on stage.  You have five minutes to impress me, you would think you might want to have a decent amount of jokes in those 5 minutes.

This is a job interview.  I know comedy is a relaxed business but dressing in a dirty shirt and ripped jeans does not make me think you are cool.  It makes me think you do not care.  Worse yet a comic went up in ripped shorts.  Really?  Remember you do not know everything the industry books.  We might have some very nice corporate work or clubs.  Chances are if all we have is dive bars, which you are dressing for, then we do not need professional comedians.  We can just get new comics like you to do it for free.  If that is the case we are not industry.  When I started I was always in dress slacks and nice shirts.  I realize that in a lot of ways that can be over dressed.  Now I am always in nice jeans at the very least.  Sometimes I wear a cowboy hat and bandana.  Not very nice BUT I don’t wear that to an audition and I have a tested act to back up whatever I wear.  They will be laughing soon enough to get out of whatever hole my attire dug for me.  If they aren’t laughing then all anybody remembers is the poor dress I chose.

How we love Fuck.  I know it is a wonderful word that can describe so many things.  But if you are doing a 5 minute set I really do not want to be barraged with it every few seconds.  I have never had a venue ask me if I could book a comic that says fuck more!  Plus it takes away from the jokes you have written.  If you want to say fuck (which I wouldn’t in a 5 minute audition set) make darn well sure it is part of the punchline and makes the joke funnier.  Sometimes fuck is needed.  Most times it is not.  I don’t think it is ever needed on a job interview.

I am so glad you are having sex.  I am thrilled you love porn.  Do I need to know this within the first 5 minutes of meeting you?  I don’t think so.  It is hard to open with sex material and in five minutes you are essentially opening and closing at the same time. 

I am sure there are other things.  These are the ones that struck me the other night.  At these events I am not expecting to find a finished project.  I am expecting to see comedians make better choices.  Maybe this will help them in the future.

As for me, well I got a gig that night from the other industry person.  She does not want me to wear my cowboy hat. Meh, what does industry know?

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