OK, you've read my book, The Comedy Bible, and you probably have a standup act -- or a least a journal full of ideas.
So, now what? How do comics get from being "nobody" to being "somebody?" How do you find fame?
The problem I see is that there are so many talented people who have all the desire for fame - but who aren't willing to do what it takes to be successful. (No, I don't mean anything X-rated.)
Many comics haven't realized that the way to fame has changed. They're engaged in "old school" showbiz, thinking that someone will come see them perform and discover them. But nobody is coming, because times have changed. There are plenty of ways for agents, managers, and others to discover talent without even going to clubs, and so some of them have stopped going. That's why you may have to discover yourself -- and take steps to start your career on your own.
You may not have control over fame choosing you, but you can choose and control working your craft, developing your ideas, writing that script, or directing a YouTube movie. That's something you can do without needing anyone else's approval or money.
Recently, I was talking to an actress friend of mine who said, "I want to do a TV talk show. I would be a great interviewer."
At first, I wanted to discourage her, because I know how hard it is to get a talk show on network TV, especially if you're not a household name. But, then I thought, "You want to do a talk show - then just friggin' do it!"
Anyone who wants to star in their own show can do it with a few friends, a cheap camera, and an Internet connection. Many of the recipients of movie, TV, and book deals include people who got their start by creating DIY shows on YouTube.
Justin Bieber was a virtual unknown until his soon-to-be manager accidentally happened
upon his YouTube videos. Comedian Bo Burnham received so many hits on YouTube that Comedy Central Records picked him up and started producing his albums. There are many, many more stories like these, because online is the new Hollywood.
It's hard to do it all yourself - but don't use that as an excuse to stop your career from happening.
Don't know how to edit, shoot video, or write? Check out Craigslist. There, you can find your production team. But, if you can't get past these problems on small projects -- how are you going to handle the huge projects that come with success?
After you produce your work, you need to find your audience. But in new school Hollywood, you don't need to hire an expensive publicist. You can use Twitter, Facebook, and email programs to find and grow your audience, or as the industry calls it, your "platform."
Having a "platform" played a big part in my getting another book deal with a generous advance. Being the author of several successful books in the past doesn't guarantee getting a deal anymore in a down economy. So, I spent four months writing a really convincing book proposal. The bulk of the proposal was highlighting my "platform" of comics and speakers who I assist with reaching their career goals, to reassure the publisher that they weren't taking too much of a risk.
A few years ago, people in the industry didn't need this level of assurance. But we are in tough times, where nobody is taking a chance on anything. Even if you are famous and successful, you still have to do the grunt work to get the big deals. Just showing up with an idea is no longer enough.
My friend is an Emmy award winning executive producer in reality TV. Even though she is extremely successful in the past and has a big shot agent, she still can't just show up and pitch an idea. So she's spent months writing up detailed treatments with act breaks, auditioned and cast her shows, and produced three minute "sizzle reels" for each show idea. She essentially does the entire show, herself, on her dime.
Are you willing to put your own money and time into producing your ideas? Because if you don't believe in what you're doing - why would anyone else?
If you are really passionate about what you do - then DIY your career.
Sound like a lot of work? It is. The hard work it takes to get anything done tends to weed out the unmotivated. That means there's less competition out there for those of us who don't just talk about doing something, but who do the work needed to make something happen.
This blog often feels like a full-time job, but it is an integral part of my DIY promotion platform. I don't have advertisers or a publishing house saying here's $50 write us something funny each week. But, this blog gives me a chance to share my knowledge with those that need it and I guess for now that's payment enough. (Psst - I offer coaching services)
Click here to leave your feedback, or on the following links to get tips on out how to produce a sizzle reel and typical submission guidelines for a book proposal.
And don't be afraid to ask people to follow you. If you don't ask, they won't. On that note here are my accounts and if you like what i have to say follow, fan and favorite me. I read everything.
Stop Waiting for Fame - Go Out and Get it
Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.