Stand-Up Comedian

Stand-Up Comedian

Michael Kosta

Los Angeles, CA

Male, 30s

I'm Michael Kosta, stand-up comedian (yes, that's what I write on my tax returns). I've performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Conan, and Comedy Central, and I tour all over North America and Australia. Ask me anything about life as a stand-up.

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75 Questions


Last Answer on June 11, 2013

Best Rated

How much do seasoned comedians make headlining 1) a midsize comedy club, 2) a 1,000-2,000 seat theater, 3) a Vegas casino’s main room?

Asked by macattack almost 12 years ago

Everything depends on everything. TV credits, draw, number of shows, number of nights, holiday vs weeknight, etc. All of that stuff is determined by negotiating contracts with agents and buyers. In general if you are headlining a comedy club, you can get paid any where from $500 for the weekend to as much as $20,000 depending on ticket sales, etc. Its really that broad. If you are asking me what I get paid, I'm not going to tell you that:) 2) I don't know about theaters because I don't play them but the general rule of thumb is that the more seats, the more money. 3) Vegas is not as profitable as you would think. Comics actually kind of cant stand playing Vegas. The crowds suck (they just lost all their money), the week is long and the showroom doesn't really give a fuck about comedy, they just want to offer a distraction to people before they start gambling again. Last time I played Vegas I got to eat with the casino employees, that was a blast! Eating chicken wings with blackjack dealers!

When you're a headliner, do you hate when your opening act kills? Does that make it easier or harder for you?

Asked by slayton almost 12 years ago

I want the show to kick ass, from start to finish. The better the show from the MC to Feature to Headliner the better the crowd pays attention, and is more likely to come back again and support the comics. When I have a shitty opener or a hacky opener I find that the crowd respects the show less, respects me less and the club. If all the comics are kicking ass, the show is awesome and actually makes my job easier as headliner. The only real problem is when the feature act (the act before the headliner) has a very similar style to me. That can get complicated. Im a cocky, tall white guy who yells a lot on stage. If the opener is the same, the show gets old fast. The good clubs pay attention to who they are booking and make sure that doesn't happen.

twitter: best tool ever for aspiring comedians, or a shit-stew of awful wannabe jokesters?

Asked by run rickey run about 11 years ago

I would argue shit-stew but maybe thats because I don't have that many followers (at this point 5700). I don't want to so sound bitter but twitter has made EVERYONE a comedian and I find it annoying. Or even worse, it has made really mediocre comedians, who buy followers, or who somehow buddy up with the right people and get a lot of followers, appear to be great comedians. Time after time there are examples of comedians who bookers, club owners and TV bookers think are funny because their twitter is funny and then they bomb or can not deliver or perform a stand up joke. I use twitter and I follow my favorite comedians and for the most part I like what they have to say (Its a compliment to their act) but be very careful going to see someone's live show just because their twitter is popular.

For longer sets, how do remember your material? Do you keep notes on stage, just in case?

Asked by brikhaus over 11 years ago

Lately I've been keeping notes on stage because I have a set of new jokes that I want to make sure i don't forget to do, but thats just a napin with words written on it. Something like "Girls bday, friend divorce, apple cider, yoga". I know for me that for a long 45 minute to an hour set, I have it pretty figured out. I know the order that I like to start and finish with and mostly will do the same order in the middle but I also like to adjust order depending on certain reactions from the audience. May move a lower energy bit later in the set if they are reacting differently than I expected. Think of a comics set as a "play". Actors in a play don't carry their notes with them because they know their lines. Even though we have no strict order, I know the lines of my personal play and I get to perform them anyway I want. Hopefully that way is funny.

Have you ever been stiffed by a club owner?

Asked by Scotty B almost 12 years ago

Not yet! But every single comedian I know has had checks bounce, not gotten paid, etc. Its normally not the comedy clubs, its normally the one nighter bar gigs where you can get screwed. The older trick in the book is when you show up, they start throwing drinks and food at you and then when the show is over they present you with a $85 tab. That's happened to me a few times and that sucks. I have an agent and a lawyer now so everything is contracted and signed and all that jazz, so that eliminates a lot of that nonsense but earlier in the game before all that, club owners do try and stiff you. Sometimes I still get the "our hotel changed last minute" and they end up putting me in some shit hole and then I have to act like a diva and change hotels, that sucks and makes me feel like an asshole but if they would have put me up where they said they were going to, wouldn't have been a problem! Man do I sound like a douche.

How much do you think looks matter in stand-up comedy? Do you spend a lot of time working out?

Asked by Dragooon over 11 years ago

I think ultimately the question is "Are you funny?" Looks can either help or hurt ones evaluation of your performace. In my case, I think I have both benefitted and been at a disadvantage because of my looks. My guess is all comics would feel the same about their "look". Some buyers like me because I look clean cut and "Midwestern" and that is what they want for their brand or network, etc. Others think its impossible to be funny if you aren't frumpy and nerdy, or overweight, etc. We all judge someone the moment they walk on stage. Its just part of the deal. I think the best comics use their physciall look to help their act, kind of like another tool in the tool box. I know some female comics that are pretty, try to dress that down because they don't want the other women in the crowd to get jealous or immediately hate them. That sucks that they have to do that, but its also smart. I work out 4-5 times a week but not because of comedy, because I enjoy it, feel healthier and look better when I look at myself in the mirror while fucking.

Is being referred to as "a comic's comic" a compliment or not? I'm sure it's meant as one, but I'd also venture a guess that Dave Attell would trade that feather in his cap for Carlos Mencia's money any day.

Asked by oogly about 11 years ago

Tough question to answer.  Carlos is definitely not a comics comic but I'm sure he sleeps just fine at night.  Dave Attell has made a pretty good living doing comedy as well.  I can say that its nice when other comics appreciate and enjoy your comedy, I always take pride in that, if I see a bunch of comics watching me.  But that being said, it doesn't help me get booked or make more money, it probably only get me on their shitty podcast or something.

I think one just has to write the jokes that they think are funny and let the label that others give you just come on its own.  Lame answer?