In January, 2009. Finally Answered
Part TWO is here.
And, even older FAQ's are here!
The usual stuff:
What is your comedy about?
I write about life as a disabled person.
My comedy also reflects a background in improvisation and music,
which usually leads to at least one song per set. I'm also known
as someone who talks about the lovely absurdity of life in general,
sports, and certainly life as a person trying to follow the American
Are your animals in any of your
For those unaware, I do have rats.
Lots of them. I have more rats than I've had boyfriends. Maybe even
more than that. I also have chinchillas, cats, fish, and the neighbors
call me "Dr. Doolittle". About ten years ago, I brought
rats with me on stage, but I discovered that some comedy clubs schedules
and food regulations made it difficult to keep a critter content,
or a waitress from tossing an expensive girly-drink. You can see
the rats doing their thing on Youtube.com under RatRoomTV.
How has comedy changed since you
I started just as the stand-up world
was heading for a bombardment of new talent. In the 1980's, you
could go to two or three comedy clubs a night, and although the
pay wasn't always great, it was not uncommon to work in the same
night as Jerry Seinfeld, Jake Johanssen, Rita Rudner, and Roseanne.
By the end of the Reagan years, comedy wasn't as lucrative for club-owners,
and they closed their doors. We went from working paid gigs nightly
to hunting for any rooms that would allow any stage time. As a result,
a lot of comics weren't really writing as well, and certainly weren't
working to be better comedians, even the ones who wanted to be seen
by casting directors. You'd find that the people who were doing
intelligent, smart, really skilled stage work, (Charles Fleischer
for instance), were pushed aside by younger voices who wanted to
talk about sex, drugs, and MySpace.
One of the biggest changes was the
advent of Youtube. People who couldn't get stage time were producing
their own channels of creative comedy. Brandon Muller is a great
example of someone who harnassed the net to promote his work. Dane
Cook became a marketing genius and used MySpace to be a household
name. Satellite radio introduced millions of people to the work
of Jackie Kashian. With instant comedy comes a strange club based
comedy change- the audiences weren't interested in what TV shows
their comics were on- they wanted to see how many hits they got
on Facebook or MySpace. A comic could fill a room in any city if
they had enough internet friends who lived there.
There seems to be a swing back towards
clubs again, is that going to change stage time?
Yes. Rather than just finding headliners
in nationally recognized clubs that weathered the highs and lows
of stand-up, you'll find them at the local bars, and even at backyard
parties. Doug Stanhope is brilliant at bringing the crowds to him
wherever he is. Smaller theaters are discovering that stand-up is
a great way to fill dark nights. And, whenever we're in an economic
downturn, you'll find a low-cost, great night out is often in a
Where is comedy going to be in five
Cell phones. Seriously. With the changes
in communication, the increase in immediate-media, (immedia?), the
world of iphones, net, all of it- we're going to see a lot more
comedy using the forms of communication that we're placing into
our every day life. Any comic can have a channel, a podcast, and
even their own interactive fan club. It's wonderful.
You've produced a lot of shows and
tours, what do you think a club can do to become a comedy club?
I had this question sent to me by several
schools that wanted to start their own comedy club, several club
owners who wanted to switch from Music to comedy, and even a casino
owner who said they had trouble getting people into their club.
The basics of a good comedy room include the following:
- The ability of the comedian to see
close to eye level with an audience, rather than looming overhead.
- Lighting that doesn't make the audience
wonder what color the comic is, or the comic shouldn't be blinded
by spots- and should be able to see at least the first few rows.
- A sound system needs to be clear,
with good mics, (more clubs skimp on microphones!)
- Keep the comics to a set time- and
ensure that they STAY on their time. No one wants to work with
a stage hog, and no one wants to see a comic who just stammers
well past the light.
- Audience has to have the ability
to afford not only the door price, but the bar fare, too. (Overpricing
drinks to make up for a low door is just ludicris.)
- The discipline of waitstaff and
bar staff makes a huge difference. If you have a club that is
filled with loud, rude staff, you'll bring a crowd in that is
equally loud and rude.
- The club owner's needs to be able
to maintain a heckler-free atmosphere. No one wants to be around
a heckler, except the heckler, and that makes for a memorable
night for all, comics and audience members, who weren't planning
on being annoyed by someone hell-bent on being the center of attention.
Yes, we all know that hecklers exist, but more comics and more
audiences have a much better night if there is less of that nonsense.
A club owner who can't control the heckler isn't doing himself
- A club does well when the audience
feels important. The audience needs to know the club will have
a great wait staff, clean restrooms, special 'deals' for them.
- A club does well when booked comics
can tell other comedians, "hey, I'd work for this club again."
No one wants to work in a club that charges performers for drinks,
demands the comic pays for a ticket to his own show, (comps, people,
comics bring bodies in with them). No one wants to work for a
club that decides to censor after hiring, or that wants to tell
a comic, "you should just do material about grandparents
tonight." A green room is a place to focus for the show,
not to be the store room for the bar back.
- Press is not just a
comic's job, and a good club will have a marketing
plan in place- and not just "Oh, you need to bring in 10
people to play here." Pay-for-Play rooms are not a smart
move on the club owner's part, expecting the comedian to be the
ONLY marketing is just nonsense. A majority of touring comics
have NO idea what your city does for press- what radio, newspaper,
TV is more popular than another. If the club puts effort into
filling seats, the comic will have a better time working on getting
his or her fan base into those seats, too.
What makes a good comic?
No one can say " You're funnier
than.." and be right. What Ida in New York thinks is funny,
Andy in Santa Monica may find boring and vice versa. But, you can
tell when a comic has a command of the stage, knows material, understands
what an audience is laughing at or not, and one who can work in
any atmosphere, whether it be a high school assembly or a 2am Strip
Club. A good comic is someone who tries to be true to himself, true
to his material, and true to his profession. It's easy to see what
a bad comic is-
- Goes over time during sets
- Shows up right before his set, and
leaves right afterwards when there isn't another gig scheduled.
- Talks over another comic's set,
or belittles another comedian's work.
- Uses another comedian's material
as his or her own.
- Bad mouths another comedian, club,
or even booking agent (burning bridges is bad, bad, bad.)
- Only does blue material, and doesn't
have a clean set. If you want to work road, colleges, conventions,
or anywhere that is not just a local bar- you have to be able
to do your show in a clean version as well as how you would normally
do it if you're naturally a blue comic. Redd Foxx, the ultimate
blue comic, still held court on Television without dropping F-bombs
- Does street jokes, (the stuff you've
heard as "jokes" your whole life), or rambles over his
punchlines so the audience doesn't hear it.
What do you think of Alternative
So, here are the FAQ's for 2003. The
more personal ones? They're here.