Every comedian waits for the first time they’re on TV. In May, I had the honor of performing my first set on television. It was everything I thought it would be, and much more.
First, let me explain the process to get here. Two different comedians had recommended me for a spot on Gotham Comedy Live, a live comedy show on AXS TV and filmed at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC. It’s usually a big deal just to be recommended for a club spot, but to be recommended for a TV spot is a massive honor.
After being recommended, I sent out a link of a 8 minute set (the length of the set I would have to perform on the show). The booker reached out and complimented me on the set, however, they requested 2 more minutes of material so I would need to send a 10 minute set. While I had a few links of different sets I’d recorded throughout the last year, I didn’t have a “tight” 10. Meaning, I didn’t have a link where I purposefully performed exactly 10 minutes of material starting and ending on the opener and closing bit I’d end on. It’s looked down upon across the board to edit your set down. I set out to record a tight 10.
Running The Set
This is where the stress starts to set in. Which club is going to let you run a 10 on short notice? Not many, guest sets are usually 5-7 minutes at the most. What about alternative venue shows? Sure, that would be MUCH easier but where would I find a show in a venue suited for getting a recording of your set with good acoustics, a great crowd, and where your set hits, etc? It’s not as easy as you think. Luckily I ran a show at the time at The Stand and gave myself a 10 minute set in the middle of it. The luck doesn’t end there, I’m getting a professionally recorded tape of my set because a production company had sent videographers to capture the show. All I needed to do was make sure the crowd was great and I was perfect. NO PRESSURE!
It all came together perfectly and after sending it to the show booker, I receive approval for a spot on the show. I’m elated! I’m asked to submit my availability for the next 3 months. After sending it I sat back and waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing happened. The 3 months had come and passed and still no sign of a scheduling email. I emailed the booker again, and updated my avails for the following 3 months and promptly received a reply of “Thanks. Got it.” I know they’re busy so I wait again. 3 months later, nothing. This is where I started to assume I wouldn’t be getting it. That said, I didn’t stop submitting my avails every 2-3 months. Something told me to be persistent but not annoying. I had no idea if I was meeting that expectation but I had to keep trying.
The Harsh Truth And Hard Work
Throughout this entire process I kept working on my material. Getting on stage 6-7 nights a week, multiple times a night. After recording my original 8 minute set, a comedian I respect says to me “It’s all very funny but lose the fat stuff, you’re better than that.” I had kind of laughed it off, these jokes were just approved for fucking TV, how could you be hating on them? They’re good enough for TV, they’re good enough for me, right?
Here’s where other advice I’ve received from successful talented comedians comes in. I know you never stop working on your funny. A comedian should never rest on the set as is. One’s act can always be tighter, funnier and better performed. The next joke you write is going to be better than the last joke you wrote.
Thats just how it works, folks. I knew all of that as well as knowing in my heart that she was right, I was better than those jokes. I could put out a better 10 minutes than what she just saw at that show. People like this are invaluable. Most comics wouldn’t do this. Most comedians would say “great set” in order to show they’re being supportive without having to upset anyone. Comedians you consider friends are the ones that’ll offer constructive criticism and push you to be better. These are the friends you should always be around. This is much tougher, but it’s worth it.
I Finally Get The Show
I continued to work on my act and set out to work on better material. Really push myself to come up with something more substantial and personal. Something beyond the surface stuff (literally). Eventually I got to a place where I thought my set was where I was happy with it and I would love to do it on the show. Luckily, I finally got a reply to the avails I was sending in for almost 2 years and I got a date I would be filming the show!
As we get closer I hear that my buddy from Cleveland, Chad Zumock, is doing the show with me! How awesome, having a friend on the same show! He mentions that Norm Macdonald would be the host. WOAH! The last few episodes of Gotham Comedy Live had hosts with less comedy experience than you’d like to bring you up on your TV debut (Pam Anderson, David Hasselhoff, some wrestler, etc). Luckily we’re going to have a comedy icon bringing us to stage!
The day of the show came together pretty amazingly. Norm crushed up front and as a result the other comics did well. I went 3rd out of 4th, which is dope, sweet spot. Norm brought me up with some funny banter about my credit and it played really well into my first joke. It worked out well, check out the video below. I hope you guys like it.
If you keep your head down and keep working hard, as fucking cheesy as it sounds, is probably the best way to achieve your goals. They feel better that way, thats for sure.
If you’d like to see me perform live, I run a dope show called Illuminati Party. And because you found out about it through this blog, you get free tickets!