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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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!
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.
$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.
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.
School TeacherHow do you see parents failing in their children's education?
Swim InstructorWhat are the physical traits that make for the "ideal swimmer's body"?
Radio program/music directorDo radio stations have to pay royalties to artists to play their songs?
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.
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.
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/
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