Maxwell’s Law

By Dobie Maxwell – www.dobiemaxwell.com

   I think it’s safe to assume most people have heard of ‘Murphy’s Law’ – that everything that can go wrong will go wrong. I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case for everybody, but I’m living proof old Murphy was on to something. I have had my share of problems in life and then some.

   One thing I have learned after spending a lifetime in standup comedy is that no matter what the situation should happen to be at any time – it will ALWAYS pop up again in the future without a doubt. It may take years, but it will happen again. This is a word to the wise for future reference.

   Whenever you happen to encounter an oddball scenario of any kind – and you absolutely will – file it away in your head and know that at some point you will relive this same scenario at some point in the future. That’s what the term ‘experience’ is all about. It takes a lifetime to learn it.

   The question is, what does one do with that knowledge? Johnny Carson was known as a world class ad libber. He could pull out the perfect line for a specific moment like few others. He had a razor sharp wit, and knew how to use it. But not everything he said was made up from scratch.

   I read an article about him once that said he would file away lines in his head, and knew when to pull them out of the archives at exactly the right time. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t the writer of every line, what mattered was that he knew how to use them and more importantly – when.

Start Simple

   There are certain scenarios that are absolutely sure to happen to every live speaker of any kind. Being prepared with a line – even a mediocre one – at the right time can make you look like one of the ‘wittiest’ minds of all time. I’ve seen it happen countless times, and it always amazes me.

   There are lines that have been used for decades and probably centuries that continue to work as long as they’re used in the correct context. Here’s an example: someone comes in a few minutes after the show starts and distracts everyone’s attention. It happens all the time, and will continue to happen as long as there are humans inhabiting planet Earth. It’s safe to say you’ll encounter it.

   The line (or any variation thereof) “Hey, glad you could make it! Can I get you anything…like a WATCH?” is a common comeback. I’ve heard this line literally thousands of times, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard it not get a laugh. Is it original? Not anymore, but it’s still very effective. It doesn’t matter if it’s original in that scenario. The audience doesn’t know it – but you do. Use it.

   Another common situation is someone coming from or going to the bathroom smack dab in the middle of your set. That’s another all timer that will never ever go away. Sometime, somewhere, you will have to deal with this one too. What do you say? Again, it doesn’t have to be brilliant or ground breaking. It just has to be quick and make the point. Here’s an example for someone that gets up to leave during your set. It’s quick and to the point. “We know where YOU’RE going.”

   Is that necessarily a funny line? Not at all. There’s no joke there – it’s just a statement. It isn’t off color or mean spirited, and depending on the person delivering it there is a possibility of that line being milked for more than one laugh just by using pauses and/or goofy facial expressions.

   Lines like that used at the right time can get powerhouse laughs over and over again. It’s up to you to file away a list of those lines, but if you take the time to do it you will never be sorry. I’ve never regretted having an archive of ready to use lines in my head. They always come in handy.

Build Your Arsenal

   My mentor C. Cardell Willis was a master at using lines like this. One night I was on stage at a show he was hosting, and someone got up to use the bathroom. I’d never had that happen before when I was on stage, and it rattled me. My timing was thrown off, and all I could think of to say in my confusion was the line I’d heard Cardell use so often – “We know where YOU’RE going.”

   It got a big laugh, and I was able to continue with my bumbling set. I was a very new act then, and didn’t have much in the tank at that point. The bathroom line quite possibly could have been the biggest laugh I got all night, and when I got off stage I went to apologize to Cardell for using ‘his line’. Before I could apologize, Cardell congratulated me for using it to manufacture a laugh.

   I’ll never forget that night, as Cardell’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. He was proud of how I knew when to use a line like that, and told me so. His words of wisdom were passed on to me, so now I’m passing them on to you. He said “There are all kinds of lines that a comedian can use to get laughs that aren’t jokes. Be good to those lines your whole life, and they’ll be good to you.”

   Boy, have they ever. Time after time, year after year, situations come up again and again and it feels great to have lines ready to go that I know will make me look brilliant when in fact I’m not even close. Audiences don’t know these tricks, but I do. Every time I use them, they work again.

   Know now that there will be all kinds of situations that arise unexpectedly, and pay attention to whenever they do. Maybe you won’t know what to do the first time they happen, but that’s not a big deal. Nobody will care at the time, but you can be sure that same situation will happen again.

   It may be years later, but eventually you’ll be in the same scene and if you’re smart you’ll have a killer line to pull out of what seems like nowhere and it will blow the room away. That’s what being a professional entertainer is all about. It’s knowing what to do and when you need to do it.

  There are all kinds of situations in your future that you will have NO idea are going to occur as you start out on the comedy trail. Had I known I’d have to deal with so many unforeseen hassles, I may not have continued. It makes me wonder how I made it this far but I did – and you will too.

   As my gift to you, here is a partial list of situations that will undoubtedly arise on your journey. There will be others, but for now this is a great starter list. See if you can plan ahead and think of what you’d say if you were in that situation. Be good to those lines, and they’ll be good to you.

A Partial List of Scenarios That Can (And Will) Happen When You’re on Stage

   These are all actual situations that have either happened to me personally or somebody I know. Some, most or all will eventually happen to you, so try and store up some lines to use when those moments occur. They don’t have to be the most brilliant lines in the world, but if you’re prepared it will make you look like a genius. Nobody has to know you saw it coming. Be smart. Be ready!

-The show will start much later than expected

-There will be an audience much smaller than expected

-Someone will arrive late

-Someone will go to the bathroom

-Someone will come back from the bathroom

-Someone will be texting during the show

-Someone’s cell phone will ring, even though they were told to turn them off

-There will be problems with the sound system

-There will be little or no stage lighting

-There will be a bar in the room, and blender drinks will be made

-There will be food served while you are on stage

-An inexperienced server will walk in front of you and/or talk loudly during the show

-A server will drop a full tray during the show

-There will be a television on within eye and earshot of your performance

-There will be a police/fire/ambulance siren in the middle of your show

-Someone will have a coughing or sneezing fit

-One or more wheelchairs will be right in the front row

-Someone will have a seeing eye dog

-Someone will have a medical emergency, and the show will have to be stopped

-There will be a baby, child or children in the audience – usually in the very back

-There will be someone extremely old in the audience – usually right up front

-Someone (or group) will be from another country and not understand a word you say

-You will be in front of a group who are completely of a different ethnicity than you

-You will be in front of a group who are radically different in age than you

-You will be performing outdoors, and there will be many unforeseen distractions

-You will be in front of an audience who is not there to see comedy (charity events, etc.)

-You will be performing in front of a window when the sun is still up

-The room will be way too hot

-The room will be way too cold

-The room will be next to a room where loud music is being played

-The act on before you will be absolutely horrific

-The act on before you will be absolutely terrific

-A celebrity other than a comedian will be on right before you

-Someone will announce a death or tragedy right before bringing you on stage

-Someone will mangle your introduction and badly mispronounce your name

-You will be asked to cut your performance time drastically on very short notice

-You will be asked to stretch your time indefinitely because the next act is not there yet

-Someone will buy you a drink, and it will be brought to the stage during your show

-Someone from the audience will try to come on stage when you didn’t ask them to

-A fight (verbal or physical) will break out in the room at some point in the evening

   Again, this is in no way a complete list of all the things that can happen during a comedy show. That list doesn’t exist, as there are always new and wacked out scenarios happening all the time. It’s part of what keeps things interesting I suppose, but it’s also the source of unbelievably high stress – especially for the new performer. Hopefully this will give you a head start on everything.

   Try to put yourself in each of these scenarios and imagine what you’d do if it really happened. It wouldn’t hurt to write a few lines for when it does, because you just never know. Also, be very observant when watching other shows, as any of this could and will happen to somebody else out of the blue and you can learn from that too. Always be on the lookout for things to learn. You are never past this stage, and I still learn things myself. I wish I had this list when I was starting out.

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How To Handle Hecklers (Part 1)

By Dobie Maxwell – www.dobiemaxwell.com

   By far and away and without a doubt, the two most frequently asked questions I’ve gotten over and over since I started teaching standup comedy are: “When will I need a manager?” and “What do I do about hecklers?” I laugh every time I hear either question, but they get asked constantly.

   Nothing could be less important in one’s first year of comedy than these two questions, but I’m going to deal with the heckler issue now only because so many people feel they need to know the ‘secret’ when it comes to ‘defeating’ this perceived peril that will be an issue during every show.

   In a word, RELAX. There are no secrets, and there is no peril. It’s all a myth – just like the one that says women like men with a sense of humor best but that’s another topic for another day. I’ll focus my energy on stomping out this fire before attempting anything else. This needs attention.

   First off, there are far more important things to think about when learning this insanely difficult craft. Getting heckled should not even begin to be part of the conversation until much later. Does it happen? I’m not going to lie, of course it happens. Every standup comic eventually has to deal with this issue to one degree or another, but in one’s early stages of development it’s a non issue.

   Let’s compare it to learning how to drive a car. Do multivehicle spectacular flaming accidents involving violent bloody injuries or even fatalities happen? They absolutely do, but can you ever recall one happening in a Driver Education car? Maybe it did – but it was a very rare exception.

First Things First

   My point is, if you’re reading this there’s an overwhelming chance you’re a beginner. There’s nothing wrong with it, and in fact every single entertainer who has ever stepped on a stage was a beginner at some point. You’re in first grade right now, so let’s worry about first grade lessons.

   There are plenty of lessons that need learning before you have to deal with any heckling in the next little while. It will happen soon enough, so let’s not rush it. Dealing with it on a professional level can absolutely be learned, but it’s like calculus or physics. A first grader isn’t ready for it.

   First graders need to learn the very simplest of the basic fundamentals of everything. They will have enough to deal with learning their ABCs. After that, then they can start to work up to bigger challenges. Nobody expects a first grader to know how to dissect an isosceles triangle, and that’s equally true with a newbie comic. Audiences won’t expect a greenhorn to have to deal with that.

   What kind of lowlife slime would heckle a new comedian anyway? I hate to admit I’ve seen it done on rare occasion, but the audience will always support the comic. Most people have an idea that comedy isn’t easy, and seeing a rookie get heckled would be like seeing a child get attacked. Most decent people wouldn’t stand for it, and the same is true in this situation. All a new act has to say is something like “I’m very new at this. I hope you feel like a big person attacking me.”

   That alone usually takes care of it more than effectively, but I’ve also seen comics get frazzled and leave the stage prematurely. That’s their choice, and I respect it. Usually, the person hosting the show has some experience, and can deal with a heckler accordingly on a more even platform.

Why Does It Happen?

   Why anyone would want to come to a live show and purposely try to disrupt it always has been and still is a befuddling mystery. I would never dream of doing anything like that, but I’m a huge fan of live entertainment in general. I know from years of experience how difficult it is to put on a live show of any kind. I have respect for all performers, and want to show all the support I can.

   Unfortunately, this is not true with a frighteningly large percentage of the public. I’ll remember a quote my grandfather told me when I was about ten years old. He said “The masses are asses.” I didn’t know what it meant then, but I’ve since learned to embrace it in my journey through life.

   I thought Gramps had come up with that himself, but it was actually a quote from a gentleman named Alexander Hamilton. Does that name ring a bell? He’s the guy pictured on a US $10 bill. He said it in 1790, so that tells me a lot about the human race. We were stupid then, and still are. All those ‘asses’ from 1790 bred and we’ve perpetuated generation after generation of imbeciles.

   My grandmother grew up on a farm in a small town in Central Wisconsin. She wasn’t much on mincing words, and usually got straight to the point on any topic. When it came to her opinion of the masses she said “The cattle on the farm I grew up on knew how to behave better than most of the American public.” I hate to admit Grandma was right, but she was – and it’s getting worse.

   For whatever reason, there are idiots who walk the planet freely that seem to think they’re why the rest of us are here and it’s our job to cater to their every whim, urge or impulse. That must be why they have no qualms whatsoever about yelling out incoherent gibberish during a live show.

   I will say from experience that alcohol often contributes to this scenario, but not always. I have seen more than my share of sober simpletons start babbling idiocy without the aid of intoxicants. It never ceases to amaze me how often people feel a need to contribute to the collective dynamic.

Three Basic Types

   I’ve had a lifetime of experience with hecklers, and I can’t think of anyone who can speak with more authority than me when it comes to this topic. I’ve gotten things thrown at me, started a riot or two and been escorted to my car by security on several occasions. I’ve played this game often, and have a rich backlog of experience on which to draw from. I know well of what I’m speaking.

   I’ve thought it through at length, and my conclusion is there are three basic types of heckler:

         The Bully/Coward

         The Intoxicated/Idiot

         The Contributor/Helper                           

   There can be subtle variations on all these themes, but they basically boil down to one of them in the end. I’ve dealt with all three extensively, and here is my advice from the front lines so you can hopefully get a head start for when this will be part of your world – and it will. Don’t rush it, it will get here soon enough. There’s nothing to worry about though, as you can win every time!

   Let’s examine the three types:

   ‘The Bully/Coward’ – this is the type from which the stereotype heckler is drawn. He (rarely if ever she) is a mean jerk type who allegedly brings the bag of rotten fruit to throw at the stage. I must say I have never seen that in all my years, but I have had other objects hurled stageward.

   This type of heckler is almost always a frustrated performer who lacks the guts to get on stage or is too lazy to put in the massive effort it takes to become a professional entertainer. It’s easier to just sit in the crowd and toss out caustic remarks. I absolutely love these types, as I’ve learned to verbally squash them like the cockroaches they are. I’ve laid out countless bullies in my day.

    Part of the reason I can deal with this so easily is that my father was a bully. Quite often in my early years I’d go after these kinds of hecklers so badly the audience would actually sympathize with heckler after a while. In my mind, I wasn’t just squelching the heckler. I was getting back at my father, and I’m not going to lie – it felt REALLY good! I have since softened my demeanor.

   ‘The Intoxicated/Idiot’ – Steve Allen said decades ago that sooner or later everyone who does live entertainment will get sick of entertaining drunks. Amen, Brother Steve! I reached that point years ago, but it continues to go on. I don’t judge people, and just because I’m not a drinker I am not crusading against all those who choose to enjoy a cocktail or two. Being a drunk is different.

   Dealing with a bully requires one method of defense, and this requires another. Bullies are very aware of what’s going on, and they want to outsmart the comedian on stage. Drunks don’t know they’re being out of line, and depending on how far gone they are can be a difficult challenge to keep control of the show. Many venues won’t bounce them, and it’s up to you to work through it.

    Other times, alcohol isn’t the reason and they’re just plain DUMB. Sometimes it goes further than that and it’s just plain old mental illness. That can be extra difficult, and requires a delicate and experienced hand. I will go into much more depth in the future on all of this, but not now.

   ‘The Contributor/Helper’ this has always been the most baffling type of heckler. Once in a while someone will say something out loud during a show, but it’s not a heckle at all. In fact, it’s a major compliment to the performer. The audience member relates to something the comic said and says something in response like an actual conversation. This is usually not a problem at all.

   Then there’s the weirdo who for some reason thinks the comedian needs ‘help’ and decides to volunteer his (and too many times her) ‘services’ as a verbal punching bag throughout the night. They’re the first ones to come up afterward and look for kudos on their ‘performance’. This has never made sense to me, but it does occur with alarming frequency. Run from these crackpots.

Embrace The Situation

   It may sound crazy, but part of me really enjoys dealing with hecklers. The main reason is that I know before any situation ever starts that I’m going to win no matter what happens, and that’s a position of power. It’s like being a seventh degree black belt. I’m not afraid to walk home alone.

   But just like with the black belt, that power and knowledge is never to be used to hurt anybody. It’s not like I look to go around making fun of random strangers just because I know what to say. I’m just saying I know how to defend myself in heckler situations, and I’m not afraid to exercise my combat muscles when necessary. I don’t ever start it, but should another do so I will finish.

   Every comedian has a different opinion. George Carlin talked about his preferential method of vanquishing hecklers. He said “Some comedians like to have a stockpile of witty lines stored to use when they need them. I always prefer to use a verbal sledge hammer to the base of the skull.”

   And that was his right. Jerry Seinfeld chooses to deal with it in a totally different way. He just stops the whole show and says something like “Are you alright? You seem upset. Can I help you in some way?” This is a great way to disarm almost any situation, and you can choose to use it as well if you like. Personally, I would never do this. I enjoy the challenge of barbecuing the idiot.

   But that’s me. Not everyone is as warped and twisted as I am when it comes to enjoying such a frightening scenario. It’s like someone walking through a bad neighborhood looking for conflict. Maybe they get off on the excitement, I don’t know. For me, I have no problem going toe to toe.

What Should I Say To A Heckler?

  Students constantly ask me what to say in heckler situations. Like I said earlier, it won’t be your concern at least in the very beginning. Focus on your comedy first. My friend Bill Gorgo has one of the best answers I’ve ever heard. When someone asks him what to do about hecklers, he’ll say “Simple! Don’t get heckled.” Then he’ll wait a few seconds as his wisdom penetrates a skull.

   Most students don’t get it, but Bill is 100% correct. What he means is, have a well constructed funny act and get the audience laughing soon and often. If they’re doing that, nobody will have a chance to heckle. The whole idea of standup comedy is to get laughs from the crowd, not insults.

   Again, does heckling happen in standup comedy? Definitely yes. Does a bear defecate rurally? Is Seven Up? It will always be a part of comedy just as accidents will always be a part of driving, but that doesn’t mean you have to worry about it every time you get behind the wheel. If you are careful and focus on DRIVING, 99.999% of your trips will be trouble free. Comedy is the same.

   If you focus on your act and getting laughs, hecklers won’t have time to interrupt you as there won’t be the opportunity. The audience will be enjoying your show, and their laughter will act as insulation so one lone nut’s comments will have no way to penetrate that force field. I’ll leave it alone for now, but I still have a lot more to say on this subject. Next time I’ll share combat tips.

Your Comedy Anniversary

By Dobie Maxwell – www.dobiemaxwell.com

   It is of my strong opinion that everyone who does standup comedy for any length of time needs to set aside a specific day, week or month each and every year to be designated as their “comedy anniversary”. It’s a fantastic tool to use throughout one’s career to maintain steady improvement.

   It makes absolutely no difference what day or time of the year it is, but there should definitely be time set aside annually to both review and reflect but also plan ahead for the coming year. It’s far too easy to get off course in one’s entertainment journey, and this helps keep things on track.

   My first time on a comedy stage was November 7th, 1983. The only reason I know that now is I somehow had the foresight then to write it down. I don’t know why that particular thought would happen to pop into my empty naive brain which knew nothing about anything then – but it did.

   I remember consciously thinking that if I were ever to become a big star somebody somewhere would want to know when and where it all started. I knew I could have just made something up, but I figured since I could tell them the actual date I would keep it factual. That’s the actual date.

Why Would Anyone Care?

   It doesn’t matter in the least when or where anyone starts out in comedy – or life in general. It’s always where one finishes that anyone remembers. Most entertainers have humble beginnings of some sort, but that just adds to their legend. Talent with perseverance can take someone very far.

   There are two giant reasons I think keeping an annual tally of one’s progress is of importance. First, it’s a way to keep a much needed eye on yearly progress. If there’s a clear marked map laid out for the next twelve months, it allows for much steadier progress than just wandering without a target like most entertainers do. I know I did, and it ended up being a lot of valuable time lost.

   I was completely clueless, and thought everything would ‘just work out’. That’s NEVER going to happen in any generation, so I’d suggest getting your head out of your aspirations immediately and start mapping out some kind of journey. How can anyone help you get there if YOU have no idea where you’re going? It took me years to grasp this concept, but I suggest you try it sooner.

One Just Never Knows

   The second reason to keep track of your progress is for those around you. You maybe couldn’t care less about outlining a path where you’ve been as your eyes are always looking to the future. That’s a very common mindset for most entertainers, and I think it’s good. It strives for progress.

   But if you do indeed make significant progress, inevitably someone will want to be able to look back and see the path you took to get where you got. Keeping tabs along the way will never be a waste of time, and I say that with the utmost sincerity after spending a lifetime chasing a dream.

   It takes a lifetime to chase (and hopefully catch) any dream of significance, and there will be a wide variety of personalities that cross your path during that time. Some will leave behind some wonderful memories while others’ names will stink behind them. The majority will be forgotten.

   That’s exactly the reason to keep track of your journey so you can keep in touch with those that are valuable contacts. It’s not just about them helping you either. Maybe you’ll be able to offer a name to someone who needs something or someone you’re not, and spread some good karma.

   One never has a clue what is about to happen to anyone in the entertainment game at any time. Trust me from experience, amazing things happen to people you’d least expect, and having them as both friends and professional contacts is a major way to move ahead. Talent alone is useless.

   Keeping a yearly outline to monitor progress is just plain smart business. It’s easy to look back on if needed, and also useful to make important career decisions like when and where to move to to keep making progress. The days of ‘go with the flow’ are long gone. There needs to be a plan.

Building Your Foundation Properly

   The first few years of keeping track of your comedy anniversary are ‘show’ related much more so than ‘business’. You don’t have much business in the first few years, as that’s when everyone has to learn the basic skill set that will be built upon for a lifetime. That is what requires focus.

   Keeping track of things like how many times you got on stage and where in a given year along with (hopefully) objective grades of how you did and descriptions of each situation will prove to be a valuable asset as you go over the big map of your entire journey. Never ever underestimate how important this will be years down the road, so take it seriously and keep accurate records.

   I’ll bet I had been in the business a full fifteen years before any of this occurred to me and boy is that frustrating. The year I decided to do it, I saw major progress. I listed every show I did that year and where it was, along with a few brief notes of what happened and a grade of how I did.

 Example:

Friday March 13th, 1998 – Funny Bone: Pittsburgh, PA                                                        Position: Headliner (50 minutes)   Opener: Jeff Schneider   Feature: Chuck Krieger

8:00 – 160 people, mostly blue collar between 30-50. Hot crowd. Ad libbed a bit about having to get my clutch changed and knee surgery because of all the hills in town. Fit perfectly into my car bit, and there’s more to add there. Switched around a bit about Packer football games to Steelers and it worked great. Closed with Greyhound bus bit instead of usual closer. Solid set. Grade: A-

10:30 – 90 people, much drunker than the early show. They talked during the feature’s set, but I took control in the first few seconds and they got the message. Had a slight heckler issue during my regular closer, but by that time I was in my groove and I just talked over it. They were tired, but I slowed down and was more animated. Not my favorite show, but they liked it. Grade: B-

   It wasn’t difficult to do, and I kept it up all year. I worked anywhere and everywhere, and it added up to a grand total of 268 stage appearances of all kinds from headlining comedy clubs to opening for a couple of music acts. I also hosted some shows (34) and did three corporate shows that year – one a summer picnic and two holiday parties in December. I didn’t do any colleges.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

   The most shows I did were in Chicago with 46. The next most was Pittsburgh with 12 (I went back in December) tied with Milwaukee. The places I liked working most were Houston, Ann Arbor, Tucson and Colorado Springs. The places I didn’t like were Albuquerque and Nashville.

   The most money I made that year for one show was one of the holiday parties. I got $1250, but had to send $250 commission to the booker who got me the gig. I didn’t have merchandise then, so that wasn’t an issue. The most I made for a club week was $1500. Most others paid $1000.

   I kept track of everything from how many miles I drove back and forth to gigs, (37,577) to the number of new clubs I worked that year (3) to what specific bits I did in a particular situation or location. I still keep records like that now, although not quite as detailed. I have different needs.

   For a while I listed the hotels where I stayed and the radio or TV shows I did in a certain town, but that got to be a bit much – at least for me. Had I to do it all over again, I’d take it even farther though. Years later it’s fun to look back on it all, both for the one who lived it and ones seeing it.

You Choose What To Catalog

   As your career progresses, you can choose to add or drop things you keep track of each year as you see fit. For example, it’s not necessary to keep track of the money you make the first couple of years you start making any. It’s going to be a low total, and sometimes that depresses people.

    I personally laughed at it, but I see why others could get upset. As I came up the ranks I kept a running total of how much I’d make and where, and unfortunately that number has shrunk in the past few years as gas prices and everything else continue to rise. It’s getting to be rather insane.

   Here are a few things I’d suggest keeping tabs of as you come up the ranks. You’ll learn a lot, and also have a few laughs years later as you look back and see how much you’ve grown. That’s always the main goal – to always keep growing. It’s easier to keep track of that in yearly doses.

Suggestions of What To Keep Track Of As Time Passes:

-Year 1: Just focus on times on stage. When, where, how long, and how well you think you did.

– Years 2-5: Set goals as to how much new material you want to add (5-10 minutes is realistic).

– Years 5-10: When is it time to quit the day job? Move to a bigger or better city? Name the new venues you’d like to work, and/or new subjects to add. Review previous years and look forward.

Here are some examples of what I’d suggest you keep track of in years 1-5. More to come later.

COMEDY ANNIVERSARY SHEET OF: ____________________________________

Calendar year: ________   Years in the business: ____  Home Base: ______________

What are my 3-5 realistic goals for the coming year?

 

What are the 3-5 biggest obstacles I see for the coming year?

 

What were my biggest successes of the last year?

 

What were my biggest mistakes of the last year?

 

Who are the 3-5 most important people in my comedy life right now?

 

Who would I like to have them be one year from now?

 

How much solid polished material do I feel I have now? (Always answer this honestly)

 

How much can I expect to add? What is my strongest joke and/or bit? My weakest?

 

What is my ultimate goal in the comedy business? (This can and does change frequently)

 

What’s my strongest point, my ‘show’ or my ‘business’? How can I make both stronger?

 

   These are examples of questions to include on your own annual list, and there are no right or wrong inclusions or exclusions. The point is to start keeping tabs on yourself year to year, and in just a few you’ll start to see a definite pattern of positive and negative habits and be able to make adjustments accordingly. Oh, how I wish I’d have done this earlier than I did. But I didn’t, and it cost me time and frustration. Be smart, have a plan from the start. You can always change it up.