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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Last Answer on June 11, 2013

Best Rated

Did family and friends try to talk you out of becoming a comedian?

Asked by Marston almost 12 years ago

When you tell people that you want to be a comedian they think its really cool. Then when you tell them that you are a coemdian, especially before you've had any "success" they kind of look at you like you are sick or dying. People don't know what to think, its just not NORMAL. My family has always been supportive of me from day one (my sister was at my first show ever and fake laughed her way all the way through it). I think my parents were a little more skeptical that it could actually be a "career". When I had my first TV appearance, Comedy Centrals "Live at Gotham" I invited my parents out. My mom saw all the TV stuff, the lights, whatever, and I think it made her realize that it was a cool thing and that I wasn't leaving it anytime soon. Your question would have different answers from different comedians. I know some who's parents are doctors and what not and they really tried hard to get their son/daughter out of show business. It never works.

Have you ever just blanked on stage? Did you walk off, or just improvise something?

Asked by ginny almost 12 years ago

Yes. Its the worst. Happened to me more when I was starting, you panic and your body starts sweating and you think "oh my god, they konw that I suck as this". It happens less and less now, and when it does happen you just have to try and relax and regroup. Take a sip of water, or go into the audience for a second and see if you an get some of your material back. Its weird when it happens and I don't like it! Sometimes I'll have a joke that I don't plan on doing that night, but I keep it on the side, kind of like a crutch in case I lose my place or I get heckled and forget what is going on. Other times I literally ask the audience "what the hell was I talking about?" Someone usually yells bacl "your parents" or "Los Angeles" or "Your dick". Then I am back on track!

What's your worst bombing story?

Asked by **crickets** almost 12 years ago

Oh man, how much time do you have? - Beer to the face in Champaign, Il? - Drunk guy trying to punch me on stage in Baton Rouge? - Bar manager shutting off the mic in Michigan? Bombing is such an inevitable part of comedy that every comic has plenty of those stories. Its never easy, always takes a little bit out of you but as you get more experienced you learn how to handle it, adjust to it and not cry yourself to sleep for 3 weeks in a row afterwards.

Is it harder to developer a unique comedic voice now because so much has already been done that you're more likely now than in the past to just be seen as derivative of someone who came before you?

Asked by abcdefg almost 12 years ago

Maybe. More comedians are seen now, and on youtube, maybe it does seem harder to stand out per se. That being said, every joke has been told, every story has been told, everything has been done BEFORE, I guess its just if there is a new take or wrinkle. I yell a lot of stage, so am I the same as Sam Kinnison? Most certainly not. But we both use volume as one of many tools. I think its natural that everyone will draw a comparison, especially at the begining of their career before anyone is famous, well known, etc. And I think most comedians are derivative of those that came before them, just not the same. The same way that an athlete derives from the athletes before them. Thats something that sports commentators talk about a lot, I think its the same for comedy.

Did your career trajectory improve dramatically after you did the Tonight Show and Conan?

Asked by macattack almost 12 years ago

It defintely helped a lot. I don't think anything was as powerful as the Johnny Carson Tonight Show but after my first Tonight Show, things sped up quite a bit. I started getting paid more and clubs were asking about me. Maybe I had a good set, maybe the right people were watching, maybe I got lucky, I don't know. As a comic, performing on a late night show is such a game changer. It takes you from an open mic working at bars to being seen as a real comic in the eyes of most people. My first Tonight Show was one of my greatest experiences as a comic and something that I'm very proud of.

Do you get a lot of hecklers? How do you fend them off?

Asked by jsb77 almost 12 years ago

I tend to not get that many hecklers because Im pretty high energy and I talk pretty loud up there, that usually gets people to shut up and keeps hecklers quiet. That being said I rarely go one full weekend of shows without someone yelling something. Its usually a drunk guy who yells something dumb like "thats what she said" or a drunk women who yells "Tammy's getting married!". Normally I tell them to shut the fuck up and people laugh and then its over. The crowd wants the comedian to do his/her thing. Hecklers are annoying and take away from the show, 99% of audience members would tell you that... so when it happens, you just have to take a deep breath and remember that everyone is routing for you. A well run comedy club will send security over right away and warn the person and eventually throw them out. The best is when a club throws out a heckler. I fucking LOVE that. Get out, you don't deserve to enjoy comedy. Its more fun when the club does it then when we do it because then we don't look like such assholes.

Do you think Daniel Tosh owed an apology after that recent incident with the rape jokes? (In case anyone missed it, http://huff.to/NmndCT)

Asked by fall down go boom almost 12 years ago

Wow, you are REALLY trying to get me in trouble huh? When that "incident" happened, I immediately tweeted that the heckler (that was the woman) should have just gotten up and left the comedy club, if she was that offended. People got really pissed at me for tweeting that. Look, it works like this, being on stage is difficult. Its personal and challenging and one is dealing with a lot of emotions and stress. When someone heckles, you feel attacked. So you attack back, thats the way its always been and thats the way it will continue to be. If someone punches me, I am going to punch them. It doesn't matter what the topic is, if is was sarcastic or not. Comedians are allowed to say whatever they want when they are heckled. If you are so offended at the joke, then leave. What makes me laugh the most was that Tosh has been ruffling people's feathers for over 20 years of comedy. Go watch any of his specials. I mean, now that he is rich and famous, people are going to get offended?!? I support any comics right to respond to a heckler any way that they want to, as long as its with words and not fists. NOW, if the heckler throws a real punch, then I support kicking the shit out of them as well. When is Jobstr going to take down my account?

Are the internet and Youtube revolutionizing comedy, or will there always be room for a good stand-up comic?

Asked by amyslayton almost 12 years ago

I think thanks to youtube there is even more BAD comedy than ever! That being said, its a great way to showcase one's talents to people that haven't seen it. I really hope live stand up always exists because I think its important. My guess is that it will. I mean, did youtube keep people from going to musical concerts or poetry readings? I hope not. Im so glad I started before youtube was totally crazy because I would have felt pressure to put my stand up online before it was ready. Comics are putting there first, second and third set up online and I always think "don't do that! get better first". One of the most annoying things about the web is when audience members record your set and post online. A good club wont let that happen but it still sometimes does. Putting a comics set online without their permission is reay frustrating. Was that too negative?!?!?!

Comedians often claim to be miserable people. I'm sure that's not always the case, but why do you think there's such a high correlation between sadness and comedians?

Asked by Jenny Bruce almost 12 years ago

See above. I also rememeber something I heard Chris Rock say "If ignorance is bliss, whats the opposite?". Comics analyze life. They are very aware and observe a lot. What happens when you see it all for what it is? What happens if you become fully aware? Its kind red pill blue pill theory. I'm not saying comics are jedis or anything but people that truly observe the world, and think to challenge it and question is, often can become frustrated, sad and upset that it is how it is. I know very few religious comics (worked with 2-3 in 12 years of this). Why is that? In my opinion its because comics naturally question things, thats why they are comics. Once you question religion (again, in my opinion) it starts to really fall apart. You can't find as much comfort in it, if any at all. No I am sounding like a sad clown :(

Dane Cook: love 'em or hate 'em? It seems like comedians used to all hate him, now many seem to be defending him. Is this sudden "softening" toward him a load of crap?

Asked by One Guy, One Mic almost 12 years ago

I'm not sure. I know that when I am scheduled to so a show at 1130pm and Dane shows up, pushes me towards the back and does 70 minutes on stage (without a hello, or friendly convo) and then I go up at 1245pm, I don't usually have the nicest things to say about him. Like everything, it has more to do with ones personal experiences with that person, mine have been few and not very positive.

Are there topics that are just too raw or recent for comedy?

Asked by Kelly almost 12 years ago

Good question. There are topics that a difficult to tackle for sure, but usually the better the comic the more they can get away with. They have the skills to make it work. I have a friend who describes jokes by "level of difficulty", like a diver in the Olympics. A joke about 9/11 a few weeks after the event would obviously have a massive level of difficulty compared to a joke about getting pulled over by a cop and making fun of the police officer (who doesn't clap or laugh when a comic makes that joke?!) Men talking about rape has a high level of difficulty. I once told a Tsunami joke a few weeks after the big one that killed hundreds of thousands of people and it did not go over well. That was a mistake on my part. But I learned and thats how you get better. My apologies to those people affected.

How much money does a stand up make?

Asked by Kelly almost 12 years ago

$11,121 $49,00 $112,321 Someone who works part time as a stand up could make $5,000 a year, and Jeff Dunam was the highest paid comedian a few years ago with $35 million. Yes, a guy who talks out of his side of the mouth with puppets made $35 million one year. Completely depends.

If you catch someone stealing your jokes, do you call them out?

Asked by silversplits almost 12 years ago

I haven't had too much of that but if I find that a comic and i have a joke that is very similar, I like to always chat with him/her about it. Maybe it was random luck that we both wrote the same joke, maybe it wasn't on purpose, maybe it was stolen... but I let them know. Good comics drop the joke immediately (as would I and have) if something is very similar. If I ever caught someone stealing jokes word for word, yes I would confront them and I would make a big deal out of it. Stealing is completely unacceptable. Here's a great read on an Australian "comic" who stole jokes from two established comedians: http://www.laughspin.com/2011/05/26/videos-comedian-steals-jokes-from-comedians-lee-mack-geoff-keith-on-national-tv/

What types of crowds are the worst to perform for?

Asked by Jobstr Frank almost 12 years ago

Any crowd that doesn't know, or didn't know that comedy was going to happen. Sounds obvious but you'd be amazed at how many shows comics do (especially when starting out) where you're at a sports bar during game 7 of the Stanley Cup and its comedy night! Those people are shitty audiences as you'd expect. Texters are the worst because they aren't paying attention and are also distracting others. (see this video of how I handled one texting situation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPtkNuZUBlc). Lastly, and this happens a lot in LA, a crowd filled with agents and talent managers is a nightmare. They don't laugh, they only drink water, and they are always checking their blackberrys (they still have blackberrys). Plus they are wearing suits... arg.

When you write new jokes, do you do any research to see if they've been done before? With so many comedians out there, I'll bet it's hard to come up with anything nowadays that hasn't already been touched upon...

Asked by Front-row cackles... almost 12 years ago

If I write something that I think is too good to be true, too simple and obvious, I may quickly google the idea and see what comes up, but that doesn't happen very often. Very rarely do I write soemthing like that :) I'm not to concerned about my jokes being unique because if you write through your own personality, own point of view, they will be compltely unique and authentic to you. Even if someone gave me and you the same topic, call it "pay phones" we'd both probably write jokes that were very different and the ones that were the same, would be too obvious and not funny, most likely. The best solution is to write about YOURSELF. Just like our 1st grade teacher taught us, we are all special one of a kind snow flakes, so take advantage of that. Oh also, if you are performing a joke and 2 or 3 comedians come up to you and say "Yo, that joke is a lot like so and so's" joke... well then, you drop it. That's the deal.

As a comedian, what is your ultimate endgame? Do you have a goal, like to have your own TV show (e.g. Louis C.K.), become a star (e.g. Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin), or a career stand-up (Carlin)? Or do you just love what you do and will wait and see?

Asked by curious almost 12 years ago

I defintely love what I do. Making people laugh is so fun and its a great feeling to see someone's face go from normal to laughing. I think I'll be happy as long as I am doing that, or trying to do that. Stand up is defintely one way to acheive that. The road is long and hard and can be a grind. I will always go on the road because I love to travel and meet new people and perform for new audiences, but I would like to have my own tv show or host a late night type talk show. Hosting is something I have always liked more than acting but I'll take whatever they will give me. You got any good leads?!?!

You're not the first comic I've heard rip on Jeff Dunham -- why don't comics seem to respect him? Is it because he's not a "pure" stand-up?

Asked by gorlock almost 12 years ago

Did I rip him? Oh well that's not good. I like to be positive. I believe what I said was "Jeff Dunam was the highest paid comedian a few years ago with $35 million. Yes, a guy who talks out of his side of the mouth with puppets made $35 million one year." Maybe there are comics who respect him, I certainly dont love his comedy, but guess what? I'm sure he sleeps just fine at night. Comics like 'pure" stand up comics. I'm not saying its right or wrong but comics like and respect comedians who don't use sound cues, props, gimmicks, etc. That being said, I have used all of those. Its probably because he made $35 million last year.

What’s the typical cut for a comedian's manager?

Asked by ljenkins almost 12 years ago

Managers get 10%, Agents 10%, lawyers 5% I dont have a publicist but a lot of comics do and they would need to get paid also.

Have you ever turned down a high-paying tour slot because the other comics were too hacky?

Asked by ginny almost 12 years ago

Hell no! As long as I'm not hacky I'm very comfortable performing for high money :) One thing I do like to check a club or theaters website to see what other comics they are booking. If there is a lot of crap on there, then I don't get as excited to perform or I ask for more $. The clubs that book quality acts, as the ones that are usually the favorites of the comics and vice versa.

I am a big fan of stand up and notice comedians use the same material over and over. Does it ever get monotonous saying the things every night? Also I think I secretly want to be a comedian although I'm snowballing towards middle age.

Asked by beemo63 over 11 years ago

how many questions are you asking?  Is the last sentence a question? Are you drunk?

It can get monotonus doing the same jokes over and over again, but hearing them laugh doesnt.  Older jokes are more polished and stronger.  Newer jokes can be more fun to perform because they are newer and fresher ideas but often times they are unpredictable and lack polish or strength.

I try to mix it up but if the audience is tough or I feel like the new jokes aren't working I will go back to a bit that I've been doing a while.

As far as your last sentence, I don't know what that means.  If you want to do comedy, do it.  There is no age requirement.  Its not a sport.  Just sign up.  Or don't.  I don't give a shit.

When you're not performing, do the people around you expect you to be funny 24/7 because of what you do for a living?

Asked by Delirious over 11 years ago

Ha! I hope not! Sometimes I'll run into people who were at my show and I can tell they want me to be funny , or they try to crack a lot of jokes to me, that is so fucking annoying. Lots of times, once I tell someone I am a comedian, they try to tell joke after joke. For whatever reason this happens at a lot of hotel front desks. I have to tell them why I am in town and then they start zinging jokes at me. The people that know me best know that I am not capable or nor do I want to be funny all the time. There is nothing worse than a comedian who is always "on".

If the real comedic talent is in the delivery of a joke, why is it looked down upon when a comic hires writers to write his material?

Asked by smobro almost 12 years ago

Hmm I'm not sure. I don't think I look down on comics that do that. I choose to write all my own material but if I were under a lot of pressure to deliver a new hour each year I would certainly hire some poeple to help. I think what you have to realize is that writers HELP but they don't do the work for you. They submit ideas and concepts and help you work it out but ultimately it needs to be delivered the right way and in your own voice. I'll answer more after I hire some writers :)

Which comedian or comedians made you want to get on stage?

Asked by D-Bock almost 12 years ago

My mom took me to see Dennis Miller when I was a kid. I loved him. I still only understand 25% of his vocab but his wit, delivery and arrogance always made me laugh. How cool is my mom for taking her 11 year old son to see him? Other comics that I loved and continue to enjoy their work: Brian Regan (a comics favorite), Don Rickles, Gary Shandling (his first Tonight Show still makes me laugh), Steve Martin, Bill Cosby (seen him twice and loved it). Recently I've been getting more into Bill Hicks as well (there is a great documentary out on him right now). Unlike most of my comic friends, George Carlin never really fired me up that much. Maybe I'm a loser, I don't know.

Hey, I've done a few open mics and am a big fan of stand-up, and I feel like a disproportionate # of comics are single (and miserable about being single). Do you think that's true? And if so, why do you think there's a correlation?

Asked by gorlock almost 12 years ago

Comics can be bitter. They can be angry people. Lots of times comedy comes from pain and people that experience pain, when they can access it, can be very funny. That being said I know plenty of comics who have lived great lives, had loving families, wives, husbands, etc. The single part probably has to do with traveling the road, partying too much. But there may be more to it, maybe someone who analyzes society and relationships for a living (afterall that is a what comic does) maybe they become disenchanted with it all, maybe they realize its full of shit, I don't know. My advice to you is try and find comics that are positive, optimisitc, excited about the craft. Those comics are more fun to hang with, become friends with and ultimately keep you in the comedy game and liking it. There is also the obvious "Sad Clown" theory. People who make people laugh for a living truly become sad and don't find it funny at all.

Why do stand-up comics complain so much about touring? I mean, isn't that pretty much the job description from the beginning?

Asked by bl0wt0rched over 11 years ago

Yeah I guess you are right. We do complain a lot about it. Do you ever complain about anything at your job? I can safely say that I have never once complained about being booked or having a booker or comedy club hire me. What I do complain about is the shitty hotel they put me, delayed flights causing you to miss the first show, 5am radio spots, hacky comedians and trying to be vegetarian in Peoria, IL. By far the best part of the job is the 45-50 minutes you are on stage performing. Thats the shit. Thats why we got into it. Like every job, there are other parts that you didn't realize were going to be a part of it. I certainly don't get treated like a A lister when I am on the road but I've experienced it getting better and better each year and I will say that as you become bigger and funnier, the traveling and life on the road gets easier. OK heading to Applebees now.

Are comedians as cutthroat with one another as it seems? Or have there been any who really helped you get a few breaks?

Asked by Ramon O. almost 12 years ago

I have defintely had some comics help me along the way. Comics are competeitive by nature and we can get easily jealous of one another, which is common in every industry, but in general comics are fun and helpful and generous. Numerous comics have told club bookers that they like my act and that they should book me. Thats a really nice way to help one another. I have done the same for friends of mine that I know are funny, nice and will respect the club and craft. Also, I've had comics recommend me for TV spots or hosting gigs and that is such a nice thing and I try to do the same when I am in position to.

When comics say they are on the road "all the time" is that literal? Or is it every weekend? How often are comics home with their families?

Asked by Trob over 11 years ago

For me, it is just weekends.  But I know some comics that will go on a 6-8 week tour where they are gone every single day.  The last couple of years I have gone to Australia for 4 weeks in a row.  It can get long, very long.  We are not with our bandmates or tour manager.  We are by ourselves.  And allthough that is nice for some of the time, it definitely can get lonely and boring.  Hence why you see a lot of comics rely on drinking and drugs to help pass the time.

Ultimately a comic is in charge or how often he/she gets booked.  My agent sends me the gigs and I can decide if I want them or not.  That being said, if I keep saying no, my agent may stop working for me.  They get paid, when I get paid.

In general, clubs work anywhere from Fri-Sat to Tues-Sunday.  The rest of the time you could be home with your family, minus the evenings when you would probably do some spots in your town.

This March I was out of town for 6 days.  In April, I will be out of town for 11 days.  Not bad really. 

Let's get down to it - what's your groupie situation? At this point in your carreer, could you bed a different chick every night you perform, or is it tamer than we might think?

Asked by C-Moz72 almost 12 years ago

Comis groupies are waaaay different than music groupies. I have had very little and the ones that I have had, you wouldn't want to sleep with. Partying after a show is fun, common and usually a great way to unwind. But to be honest it usually happens with the club workers, waitresses, other comics. Groupies tend to be annoying and expect you to make them laugh all night which I always think "I already did this, now I want a break"

Why don't comedy clubs drop the check AFTER the last performer is done?

Asked by That guy almost 12 years ago

OMG I wish they would! I work probably 25 clubs a year and I would say only 3-4 drop the checks after the show. I'm not a restaurant manager or club owner (maybe there is one on Jobstr you could ask!), I'm just a comedian so maybe its more complicted that I realize but when I am performing and they drop the tab, I see everyone's face go to the check, chat about it, pay, talk about the tip, how much they owe everyone, blah blah blah, meanwhile I've been doing comedy for 15 minutes and no one has heard a word! Normally I take a drink and chill out and talk to ppl because it can be very distracting.

When I graduate high school, i am planning on trying to do shows at colleges. Is trying to get into the college circuit right away a good idea? If not, what should the alternative be?

Asked by HardlyOffensive over 11 years ago

You just need stage time anywhere.  Clubs, bars, colleges, bridal showers, etc.  College circuit can be good but don't put too many limits on where you get stage time.  If you are brand new, which it sounds like you are, just go up go up go up, over and over again.  Different audiences, different ages, different environments.

I've been a musician since birth and am branching into acting. I know the market is saturated though, so I'm also looking at entrepreneurship. I know that you need to work hard. How did you know to choose comedy? Were the odds against you?

Asked by Hunter almost 12 years ago

Your going from music to acting? WOw almost as risky as going from professional tennis to stand up comedy! I hate to sound negative but if you are "deciding" if you should do comedy or not, it probably isn't for you. Go with what is burried deep in your heart (cue soft music). Think back to your kindergarden class when the teacher asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up. I remember I said "Pro athlete or comedian". The odds are always against you but if you are really doing what you want to do, and what you are made to do, it doesn't matter if you make it big, little, rich or poor. Hopefully that helps but I guess it doesnt ;(

How many performances did it take before you realized, "I got this"?

Asked by Tommo almost 12 years ago

I think you never feel like "OK I got this" but you do start to have more confidence that you can get yourself out of trouble if something wrong happens. I remember when I was starting I would have all my jokes memorized in an ACRONYM and I would have to go in that exact order... now as I have more experience I am moving things around and adjusting based off of what the crowd likes, or how I am feeling, etc. my experience with comedy is once you get cocky and think you have it figured out, you bomb your ass off and it bring s right back to "Man, do I have a lot to learn still".

I see comedians in comedy clubs, but do comedians ever get booked for private parties and events? If not, why do you think they don't?

Asked by Ed over 11 years ago

All the time.  Comedians get booked for corporate, private events, colleges, fundraisers, all that shit.  Agents that book the clubs also book the private stuff, some agents specialize in just private stuff.

Corporate gigs are the most profitable but you have to be the cleanest (in general) and wear a tie at some of them which makes me vomit.

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!

Can you maintain steady relationships while touring, or is it pointless to even try?

Asked by SkipperMo almost 12 years ago

Oh we are getting personal now!?!?!? First it was "How much do you get paid" and now its "what kind of boyfriend are you?" Whats next "Why did you abort that baby in high school?" Touring can be very fun with all types of distractions but as you do it more and more it becomes less and less "party" time. Netflix streaming has killed many a late night parties on the road. Now how is your relationship?

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.

What was your first time on stage like? Were you hooked immediately?

Asked by matt almost 12 years ago

First time on stage was pretty amazing. Not the actual jokes of course, or the venue, or anything other than the opportunity to perform. Like most people who first do stand up, I had been thinking about doing it for a very long time (maybe 15 years), but never had the balls, or the knowledge of how to do it. Somedays I still feel like I don't have the knowledge to do it but back when you start you are really lost. Once I got off stage I remember thinking "Well that's it, thats what I want to do with my life" after that everything just kind of made sense. Being called a class clown in first grade and writing jokes for a radio station in college and having people say to me at parties "you're funny" all that just kind of clicked after I realized how much I loved performing. So to answer your question, yes i was hooked. Now my very first joke, being called "Crotch Karate" that's a whole new question.

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

Asked by run rickey run over 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.

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.

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.

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 over 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?

What do you do to generate new ideas if you're struggling to come up with new material?

Asked by zemightymarcus over 11 years ago

Shit, I have no idea... any good ideas?

This is certainly one of the harder questions to answer.  I follow the method of "just start writing".  Just start typing, or writing and see what happens.  In LA, it can be challenging because we are less likely than people in NYC to interact with people.  Sometimes I'll hop on the bus or go to a busy coffee shop just to be around people.  That always seems to help.  Another great method is to go back to old stuff you have written and rewrite it.  Usually there was something there in the first place, and maybe since the time as passed, you've become a stronger writer and can make it even funnier.

Are you signed to any labels as a comedian?

Asked by Raa over 11 years ago

I am not and I don't know anyone else that is.  I know that before you do a special, you will sign a deal with a TV network or label.  I only have a small experience with Comedy Central on that.  I'm shopping around an hour special now and we are looking for networks or labels that would want it- but even if they did it would only be a one special deal.  Once the taping is over, we could move on to another buyer down the road.

What's your favorite on-stage ad-lib or unplanned crowdwork you ever did?

Asked by <<GreenGoblin>> over 11 years ago

Hmm I don't know.  I don't seem to remember most of them.  They just kind of happen.  I seem to recall a woman in STL got really mad at me and stood up and starting preaching about Jesus and think I told her to shut the fuck up and made security push her out the exit.  That was kind of fun.

How much material do you need to be a comic? I know you always add jokes, especially if your humor is more topical, but do you change the bulk of your routine every week? every month? every year?

Asked by Vingold over 11 years ago

It just depends.  Jay Leno has been doing the same stand up set for 25 years.  Jerry Seinfeld has been doing the same jokes for years as well.  Louis CK has been doing a new hour every year for the past five years. There are arguments for both sides.  Jokes that are done for years at a time, become very polished, very strong, yet can feel lame to the performer and any audience member that has seen them before.  Brand new jokes can not be as polished, maybe lack a few more tag or punchlines.

Asking me how much material does one have to have to be a comic is like asking a musician how much music you have to have.  I don't really know what that means.  Do you want to headline comedy clubs? Then it works like this: MC does 10-12 minutes, Feautre act does 20-30 minutes, Headliner does 45-60 minutes.  how often you change the routine is up to you.

Do your spouses/girlfriends ever get irritated if you use them as material?

Asked by Beemo63 over 11 years ago

Hmmm, I think it would be very challenging for any comedian if they had to censor their act based off of their spouses/GFs reactions... hopefuly the significant other knows what he/she is getting into. I have in the past but looking back I shouldn't have. We have to use our every bit of material that we can.

How did you get past the nervousness before your first gig?
Also, did you take off right away or did it take a while to get where you're at now?
Did that make sense?

Asked by Michelle almost 11 years ago

 

how does the comedy industry work? I assume there are comedians and writers and maybe agents or promoters? I'm focused on learning the different people that make up that industry

Asked by iyk about 11 years ago

 

Outside of comedians and writers what are the other different components of the comedy industry? I assume there are talents scouts, agents, promotors...I'm very green but would like to know how it all works

Asked by iyk about 11 years ago

 

Do stand ups get paid for appearing Connan and other "tonight show" programs? Is SAG involved?

Asked by gogles paizano over 8 years ago

 

How did you go from being an open mic comic to getting your first paid gig?

Asked by enebo almost 10 years ago

 

Hello Michael, when comedians tell funny stories, are they usually true or made-up for laughs? Thanks, Joe

Asked by Joe about 10 years ago

 

I’m an experienced emcee who recently completed a stand up comedy class where the teachers were total flakes. For our graduation, I’m thinking about doing a routine that really trashes the teachers, in a funny but harsh way. What do you think?

Asked by Alex almost 6 years ago

 

Ima stand up comedian to get better do i lool at other comics

Asked by Desmond almost 8 years ago

 

Hi Michael, i perform at open mics in Bangalore, India.. the audience isn't yet ready for surreal humor and i can only think surreal, about 30% of my set connects and the rest just falls flat, but i still want to go in the same direction..stupid ??

Asked by Vikram almost 10 years ago

 

I would like to know what is the comedy type called that makes jennifer coolridge so funny and likeable in interviews ect.?

Asked by Sara over 1 year ago

 

What was your first joke that killed and how long into comedy had you been in by then?

Asked by Michael Negus over 5 years ago

 

What was your first joke that killed and how long into comedy had you been in by then?

Asked by Michael Negus over 5 years ago

 

I'm some jackass who wants to try stand up at open mic joints. I have a lot of stories that can get laughs, but no classic jokes. How important is it to have short jokes as apposed to longer winded stories?

Asked by Oz over 5 years ago

 

How do I actually use this great new power of asking a comedian rules work and can I be of part?

Asked by BtoothaS almost 5 years ago

 

Im serious about a career in stand up and I wanted to know if I could get a little guidance or tips from someone who has been there and done it as a comic.

Asked by domo about 11 years ago

 

Are most lines thought before the show, and what do you do if you forget?

Asked by bullrider98 about 11 years ago

 

What's the best way to deal with hecklers?

Asked by sd over 10 years ago

 

if you bomb at an event do u still get paid the amount agreed upon?
if yes then how do you break it down for the guy paying.
since bombing is inevitable...

Asked by i've read all the Q's over 10 years ago

 

I saw you on at-midnight! I want to know how scripted that show is...all the comics talk as though it's completely made up on the spot, but come on: I know it's not ACTUALLY off the cuff. How much do you know before the show starts?

Asked by Nov almost 10 years ago

 

I have been writing a funny Xmas letter for about 10 years. last feb. I pulled a reality star from the show "teen mom 2" from a fiery car crash. He is fine. He is a real jerk. How can i write this story and make it funny for my Xmas letter?

Asked by Angela Moulds almost 10 years ago

 

I was wondering if you knew this comedian because I can't find his material anywhere. He is a black male and he talks about his girlfriend's mom heating up deviled eggs. Talks about life insurance and why he stopped paying for it. Breaks cell phone

Asked by Thomas about 5 years ago

 

What did you do to become a comedian?

Asked by Lauren about 10 years ago

 

Back in the day, there was a style of joke that was told along the lines: "Jack would have gone to town, but for ...." Do you know the name for this style of joke? Thanks!

Asked by Jim about 4 years ago

 

Back in the 50s or 60s, the was a style of joke that went like: "Jack would have ridden the horse, but for the ...." Do you know what style of joke was. It was a person's name. Thanks!

Asked by Jim about 4 years ago

 

On a 0-10 scale, how good do you think the current state of stand-up comedy is? I heard a podcast the other day where a comic said he thought stand-up was in a real golden-age as far as the amount of great talent out there...do you agree?

Asked by YAYYAY about 11 years ago

 

Why do some comedians not get larger theaters they play to put up those big video screens where people far back from the stage can see their facial expressions? I'm always surprised when they don't have this, considering how important it can be.

Asked by PA about 10 years ago

 

If I am a stand up comedian just staring out how much should I charge the person who wants to book me for and event?

Asked by Marva almost 11 years ago

 

How do you come up with your amazing jokes? I want to be a stand up when I grow up and I need some inspiration, :)

Asked by Emma over 7 years ago