How to collaborate in comedy with literally anyone ever

Sure, I do solo comedy. But I’ve been collaborating in one form or another for the majority of my life: sketch, improv, choreography, directing, producing, and working in writers’ rooms. I like both ways of working, and I think the best thing you can do for yourself is know how to do either one.

 

Finding a great writing partner, producing partner, or any other sort of comedy collaborator is a worthy goal. Working with someone else can make your creative life so much richer.

 

It can also make it a lot more complicated because now, instead of only navigating your own hang-ups, craziness, bad moods and assorted mishegas, you’ve also got someone else’s to contend with.

 

Add to that, there’s no playbook for a working relationship with your funny friends.

 

So I’ve written a little primer for you, replete with tips and tricks to remember as you bring collaborators into your (previously solo) process—and alphabetized for maximum adorableness.

Always encourage your collaborators and let them know when they’re doing a good job.

Between you and me” — Or maybe not. Gossip is toxic and will always come back to haunt you.

Constantly check in on deadlines to make sure that your partner knows what is due, when.

Deadlines are the only way. Create them for yourself. Little ones and big ones all along your path.

Everyone you meet is a potential collaborator. Treat people with respect (until they really blow it and then GTFO).

Forgive small mistakes. We are all learning. Learn and move forward and help your collaborators to do the same.

Give all of yourself to your projects or don’t bother doing them. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

Have fun working together with your friends. When it stops being fun, notice — and make changes.

It’s okay to put yourself first. Make sure that you are not giving too much and getting nothing back. This should be an equal exchange.

Just say no to people who make you feel like garbage. You don’t need a collaborator who belittles you. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

Kick butt. Celebrate. Relax. Repeat.

Lone writing is not a bad thing. It’s great to take a break from collaborators sometimes and do it all on your own. You’ll learn a lot. See which way you prefer.

Make friends with people whose energy and work ethic you admire. Talent is nice, but over time, work ethic and positive energy will take you further. Seek out people who are talented and have an indefatigable spirit.

Nobody knows you better than yourself. Speak up about your needs creatively, financially, and in terms of time management. Don’t let alpha personalities silence you, and don’t step on the voices of others either.

Open yourself up to your writing partner’s ideas. Accept notes. They will make your work better.

Put yourself in the shoes of your collaborator. How is s/he seeing this situation?

Quality over quantity when it comes to rehearsal and writing time. You can get a lot done in a short, focused period of time and surprisingly little done when you’re unfocused or your team is too chatty to do any writing.

Read. It makes you a better writer.

Stop comparing yourself to your collaborators. Their strengths complete your weaknesses and vice versa. You had the good sense to work with them, and that’s a skill unto itself.

Take care of your body. Don’t rehearse and write till all hours of the night. Sleep makes you more awake and therefore more talented and more FANCY.

Untangle complicated social problems as soon as you can. Don’t let bad energy fester in your group. Talk it out and get rid of it. Put the work first.

Vent your grievances to your journal or practice role-playing with another trusted friend before having a difficult conversation to your collaborator. Words matter.

Wait until the show is over to celebrate. It’s not over till it’s over. Stay focused. Eyes on the prize.

Xerox your scripts well before your rehearsal so that everyone has copies and you’re not scrambling for a Staples. By Xerox, I mean print. (Work with me here, people. X is a tough one.)

You are always learning, even though you’re already a superstar. Stay humble.

Zip Zap Zop is still a fantastic warm up for your sketch or improv group. Don’t knock it. You’ll never outgrow a game that’s all about focus.

And those are the ABC’s of Collaboration!

Tell us: Do any of these tips remind you of a good story? Let us know (keeping people anonymous, though. See the Gossip note above….) Failure and success stories welcomed!


Emma Tattenbaum-Fine is a comedy writer and actor who frequently hosts HQ Trivia live in front of a million players internationally. She was named a 2016 Comedy Central “Comic to Watch” and a finalist in the truTV “Comedy Breakout” competition at the 2017 New York Television Festival. Emma was a staff writer on Almost Genius at truTV, and as an actor has collaborated with Al Sharpton, Reggie Watts, Aparna Nancherla, and Amy Poehler’s “Smart Girls at the Party”: writing for and then appearing in absurd sketches with them. Emma is a founding member of sketch group Political Subversities and the writing duo Ari and Emma. www.emmatattenbaumfine.com

@EmmaTattenbaum on Twitter

@emmatbomb on Instagram


6 Ways YOU Can Use Humor Today To Benefit Your Workplace

While the “average” work week in the United States is supposed to be 40 hours, it feels more like two million. The 9-5 crowd spends a substantial portion of their life at their place of work, with people they might not ordinarily choose to be a part of their life. The result is often than in an effort to be businesslike, we tamp down our urges to joke around.

 

I’ll let you in on a secret. Being funny does not equate to being offensive or unbusinesslike. You can be professional, respectful, and hilarious, all at the same time. Your workplace is partly what you make of it, and you can create an amazing bubble of positivity and enthusiasm rippling out from yourself. Not only will it enamor you to your coworkers and benefit your workplace, it will also make you a happier camper.

 

Here’s what humor can do for you and your job — and how you can leverage its benefits.

When you’re trying to build confidence in your team.

Tell a joke or silly story, even if it is at your own expense. Like the time a raccoon broke into your apartment, you called the cops and answered the door in your Star Trek Captain Picard cosplay uniform because, in your freakout, you forgot to change (true story). Or reply to emails with a VEEP or Bridesmaids quote. Why? Coworkers will find you more approachable and feel confident in coming to you for help or asking a question. They won’t fear rebuke, and you’ll encourage their assertiveness.

When you want to build trust and camaraderie amongst coworkers.

Be the person in the meeting who accepts extreme eye-contact from coworkers as a silent affirmation they are not alone. Then slip them a WTF note with a good ol’ “hey girl, this meeting is whack but you aren’t.” You know that feeling when you are sitting in a meeting trying to look all normal on the outside, but in your mind you are screaming, is this happening? Does anyone else think what this person is saying is bananas? Use humor to defuse the situation and let coworkers know they can count on you to be normal, funny, and sane when they need it most. Because, if you’re anything like me, you desperately scan the room to try and make crazy-eye contact and without it, you may lose your mind.

 

When you need to release tension and stress.

Pass out third-grade-style valentines, leave funny anonymous post-it notes in the kitchen, or send out memes as responses to emails. Stress is contagious — but so is laughter. Create an alternative-humor oasis in the office that will bring tension down and remind people that it’s okay to blow off steam. A good laugh helps people relax, feel more positive about situations, and provides perspective. A workplace that decreases stress increases workflow and spreads the positivity.

When you want to reduce turnover.

Lead with a smile. Initiate a protocol that includes everyone creating a Simpsons avatar of themselves. Include cartoons and classic comedy movie clips (safe for work, of course) in materials and presentations. When humor is a baked into the company culture, it generates a positive and powerful work environment. That’s the kind of atmosphere that makes people want to stay, especially in industries usually notorious for their confrontational nature. Be the place people love to be, and they’ll stay loyal.

 

When creative thinking needs a boost.

Treat collaborations like an improv session. When ideas are in their infancy, yes-and them to help them grow. Allow yourself and your team to ask, what if … and then finish it with the biggest, wildest ideas out there. It allows people to think freely and quickly, and it lowers the voice of the inner critic, leading to more out-of-the-box ideas. There is truth in comedy, and ideas that at first seem goofy can be distilled into usable content.

 

When your company needs to stand out.

Include a clever quip, a joke, or cheeky graphic in your materials. Think about the kinds of advertisements, newsletters, social media, videos and marketing campaigns that you remember the most. (Want a great example? Take a look at Noble People. The more you look, the more you find.) Humor is humanizing. It makes your company comes across as more than just a brand.

 

Have anything to add to the list? Let us know @GOLDcmdy!


Courtney Antonioli is a performer and storyteller living in NYC. She produces Stay Golden, a YouTube channel of original content inspired by The Golden Girls. She hosts monthly Golden Girls Bingo at QED and does too many Tough Mudders. You can find her at @stolafprod.

10 non-groaner ways to bring fun into your workplace

I once spent 16 months moving a 20-person non-profit across Manhattan and set up their space and systems from scratch, along with new policies to match. Sound like fun? Actually, I MADE it fun, and not just for me.  Because I am VERY FUN, and I am also very smart. You see, research suggests that “levity” at work is good for morale and good for business. And if you’re seen as someone who helps bring the fun, good for you!

Play name games…

Conference rooms

I worked at a company that named their three conference rooms after The Golden Girls. RESPECT. No “Large Conference Room 2” or Huddle Room room one.” for this joint!  When you went to reserve a conference room, you got to book  “Dorothy,” let’s say—and you got to amuse staff and guests every time.. “Your 2 PM is in Blanche Devereaux!” It never got old.

WiFi

WIFI names and password don’t need to be Guest or Welcome456. Name them after funny things that happen in office life, No Fish in The Microwave or Oops I Replied All.

Printers

 I worked in the operations for a small office.  We had a lot of printers. Five, to be exact. You couldn’t tell them apart. Who is going to remember HP-76876349 is the color copier or the small black and white? I didn’t, and I helped IT network them all for the staff. I decided to name each printer after the great Houses of Westeros.   Pro tip: House Stark is the black and white printer, because there is so little color in the north.  For bonus points, we should have printed and posted correlating sigils. Next time I will.

Passcodes

When our organization moved, we needed to set up new services, one of which was our IT help desk. The help desks requires a verification passcode when a user calls in.  That way they know what company you are from.  Instead of going with old faithful (the company’s name, snore), I opted for famous movie lines. I picked, “Houston, we have a problem” and “Welcome to Jurassic Park”.  Not only did staff smile when every time they said it, but we made the help desk’s day when we called.

 

Say it with pictures….

On signs

For example, offices often have “Employees Must Wash Hands” sign hanging in the bathroom and kitchens.  Replace the sign with a picture instead!  Use Buster Bluth from Arrested Development with his claw hand screaming, “I’m a monster!.”  I’d wash my hands to hang out and stare at the picture just a little longer, wouldn’t you?

In .gifs

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the perfect .gif is worth like eleven thousand! Allow a culture that says it is okay to When appropriate, reply with a well-chosen (and SFW) picture or meme. I used to do it all the time. So much so, I had a desktop folder with my go-to pictures saved, ready to be dragged and dropped at a moment’s notice (time-saving tip!). Some go-tos in my catalogue were: Captain Picard’s “Make it so,” the face of Grumpy Cat, and Baby Fist saying “#Winning,” for when a coworker needed that extra boost.

On profiles

Take advantage of existing but underutilized technology. Most corporate companies use Microsoft Office or Gmail as their operating system. Adding a profile picture to your email is a universal ability, yet so few people do it. Why not implement the policy that your picture is, say, your celebrity doppleganger? (You can set the visibility of the photo to internal so that is really is only an inside joke.)

 

Make it interactive…

In the newsletter

We all log onto the company resource hub or get the weekly HR e-blast—which, let’s face it, is not a page-turner (unless you find notes like don’t forget to hand in your timesheet or remember to book the Dorothy Zbornak conference room via Outlook to be FULL OF SUSPENSE). Why not include quizzes like “Pick your favorite ice cream and we’ll tell you what kind of cat you are”? The more people click, the more you know they opened it that day!

On the website

The website doesn’t have to be all biography and accolades. Why not throw it back to the early 2000s when surveys of random questions about yourself were all the rage?  You know, the ones that ask for your “last book read,” “what you did for your last birthday” or “goal you’d like to achieve this year.” Let each person answer a few different questions, and put it all up on the ABOUT US page.

 

Easter eggs: Always funny.

And it’s always Easter on the office-wide shared drive!

Everyone knows it’s a maze of folders and documents and you spend chunks of your day clicking around to  find the one thing you need. When I set up all those pathways, I made fake folders that contained little mysteries, with names like “Worst Cover Letters Ever Received” and “Money Hidden in the Walls.”  You can put some fake supporting documents in there too, if you want. Let it sit and say nothing.  Then wait until someone in the office finally brings it up! Pro tip: You can see the last time a folder was modified, so you can track who has looked!

So no more sitting in your cube trying to talk yourself out of #SadDeskLunch and realizing you haven’t had fun today. I’m here to share my own successful strategies for finding easy, free—and cringe-free—ways to use already existing policies, software, and procedures to bring good humor and fun to your office every day. There are opportunities all over the place, if you know where to look

Which one of these will you set up in your office? Have any to add to the list? Let us know! 


Courtney Antonioli is a performer and storyteller living in NYC. She produces Stay Golden, a YouTube channel of original content inspired by The Golden Girls. She hosts monthly Golden Girls Bingo and does too many Tough Mudders. You can find her at @stolafprod.

 

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6 things everyone should know about comedy and depression

Here’s a common exchange.

Stranger: So, you’re a comedian?
Me: Yes.
Stranger: Are you depressed?
Me: I haven’t tried to kill myself today!

It’s a pretty rude question, but comedians hear it a lot. And I guess—if only in terms of math—it’s legit. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, an estimated 16.1 million U.S. citizens 18 or up had at least one major depressive episode in the year of 2015. That’s almost 7 percent of all adults. Or, put another way, if I had 100 M&M’s, but 6.7 of them were secretly Skittles. I’d bite into one of the Skittles like, “What the hell, bro, I was told this was chocolate and you know I hate surprises because they remind me that life is fragile and fleeting and I could die at any moment?”

My point: many people suffer from depression. And many people are comedians. Does that mean that many comedians are depressed? In pop culture, yes. What about real life? Which is the chicken and which is the egg? Are comedians tragic, broken people OR are tragic and broken just what’s funny?

Related: for my own part, I’ve noticed that doing comedy makes me feel both empowered and insecure. So, as a comedian/reader of Psychology Today who spends her lunch breaks wrongly diagnosing those around her, I thought it high time we get to the bottom of the sad clown stereotype—and also to ASK FOR A FRIEND about some ways of preserving your sanity while working as a comedian.

I talked to Matt Aibel, LCSW, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist (and a self-described “recovered performer”) based in New York City and Long Island who specializes in working with artists. Here’s what he had to say about comedy and mental health:

You may have to be a little crazy to be a comic, but that’s okay.

If you feel you didn’t get enough attention/appreciation/applause when you were younger, well, join the club. It’s a pretty big club, too. “We all need to feel recognized and appreciated,” says Aibel. “There are many ways to satisfy that need. Performing is a powerful pull.”

But comedy? Comedy is really hard. Bothering to do it instead of something easy means that at some level you need to do it—to “finally feel alive, to feel deeply recognized in a longed-for way,” says Aibel—is really strong. “Why else would someone subject his or herself?” he asks.

The problem is, the laughs may not be enough. “Performing is rarely enough to truly undo an underlying sense of inferiority or emptiness. That’s why the high of it is like a drug. When it wears off, you need another fix,” says Aibel. In other words, success is great, but it doesn’t necessarily fill the VOID OF SADNESS. (See: lots of successful comics and performers who self-destruct.)

BUT! Even if THE BIG EMPTY is part of what drives you, it may not be all that drives you. And that rawness and vulnerability, handled authentically, is comedy GOLD—partly because so many other people can relate. Always key, Aibel says: “Make sure you’ve got other things that help you feel good about yourself and about life, and loved ones whose presence can help you keep in mind that you have value outside of your performing success.”

Punchlines can help you process.

You know how they say “comedy = tragedy + time”? Here’s Aibel’s take on that: “A comedian who can slow down and stay present with challenging feelings benefits not only emotionally, but also in performance, by being able to hold the room in stillness or silence, as opposed to just barrelling along. That can make for a richer, more resonant act.” Laurie Kilmartin (45 Jokes About My Dead Dad) and Tig Notaro (One Mississippi) are two (of quite a few) masters at this—at using finely drawn humor not to deflect or make light of tragedy, but to authentically process and share it.

That’s an advanced move, we know. “Comedians may have a harder time slowing down and staying with uncomfortable feelings,” says Aibel. “Their impulse can be to discharge the energy of important feelings by converting it to a punchline or speeding along.” It can be funny, but it can also leave you stuck. If you want to experiment, try your darker, most personal stuff on friendly crowds (or just friends) first. Let them help you get comfortable and give it time to gel.

Learning to be a good comic can be like learning to be a good human.

“It’s powerfully gratifying to move others to think and feel—and feel less alone—through storytelling and performance. Not just for the ego but for the heart,” says Aibel. And learning how to connect with people, even from the stage, is possibly the most mentally healthy and valuable life skill there is, other than fixing phones after they’ve fallen into the toilet (plz help me.)

3 tips for staying funny and sane

Set goals you can control.

Aibel calls these “process goals”: Set goals around things you can actually do, like performing x number of nights a week, not things you can’t control—like getting a callback.  

Get a hobby!

When you’re a comic, your job is to be critical. How to stay positive, especially about yourself? Make sure you do stuff outside comedy that makes you feel in control and positive, says Aibel.

Find support—yes, even on a comedy “salary.”

Aibel’s reccos:

Read books.

Find a mentor: perhaps an older comedian whose approach and spirit you admire (but beware of “gurus.”) 

Be around PEOPLE: Supportive coaches, teachers, colleagues, and friends can make a big difference.

Try not to let your body go to sh*t. Or, as Aibel puts it: “Physical fitness, exercise, and healthy habits around sleep, food, alcohol and drugs are beneficial.”  

Quality low-cost therapy. New York and other cities offer solid low-fee/sliding-scale clinics through psychoanalytic institutes, and private therapists and organizations like The Actors Fund offer workshops and support groups.

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BLAIR DAWSON is a New York based standup comedian and improvisor. Working as an ESL teacher in Thailand, she got her start in comedy performing in expat communities across southeast Asia. Blair has studied with the UCB Theater and is a contributing writer for GOLD Comedy. Additionally, she produces and co-hosts a monthly sex-positive storytelling and stand-up show, sponsored by Babeland, entitled, “U Up?” Blair’s your new best friend and can’t wait to induct you into her cult!

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How to be funny on Twitter

Much like a receding hairline, social media is here to stay. Apps like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn and all the future ones inevitably invented by cyborgs—all hail Zorp!—are fundamentally woven into our social interactions. But with restrictions like 10 seconds or even 280 (?!) characters, there’s a lot of pressure to get so much in what can feel like so little…like trying on winter sweaters. On top of it all, people want you to be funny. FUNNY!? Help me, Zorp!! Well, as I say to my muffin tops, “Stop sweating,” because here are four steps to help you fit your funniest work into the tiniest spaces:

 

1. Find your message

Before you start dreaming about writing the best tweet in the history of Twitter, let’s start with the basics. Think about what you’re trying to say with your idea. This nugget does not need to be even slightly funny, just something you find amusing or strange or both. It can be a fact, an opinion, even an image you want to share.

Example: “I have short hair and get confused for a man.” Not inherently hysterical, but absolutely a stepping stone to a joke. Also very true to me.

2. Pinpoint the funny.

Now that you know your message, you need to dissect what you think is funny about it. This is absolutely up to you, as your “truth” and perspective are what make you unique. Consider yourself a comedic snowflake.

Example: “I have short hair and get confused for a man.” This is funny to me because women in society are of course marginalized, but as a “man,” I’m afforded privileges that women aren’t. So instead of suffering from the realities of sexism, I’m benefitting from them? *Awkward shoulder raise* Also, being misgendered causes very awkward social interactions.

3. Make it short. Now make it shorter.

Now that you understand your message and why it’s funny to you, it’s time to write out your joke in a concise and punchy manner. Think about being stranded on an island—and yes in this scenario we can all be Tom Hanks—and writing a letter in a bottle. You would need to maximize each sentence in order to provide the most information. Or figure out a way to write in a smaller font on Twitter. ZING! Regardless of whether you’re writing comedy/drama, words are a currency that fund your message. Always think, can I say the same thing in one word instead of two? Which is actually a great exercise to apply for joke-writing in general.

Example:

Good: “I have short hair and strangers confuse me for a white man. And because I’m a Queer Latina, I love feeling the benefits of white male privilege.”

Better:  “As a Queer Latina, nothing feels better than being mistaken for a White man.”

4. Do your research, then do you #YouAreBeautiful #ChristinaAguilera  

Take a look at some of the writing and stylistic conventions that funny people use on Twitter. For example: hashtags, the use of understatement, all caps for emphasis, all lowercase with no punctuation, sentences that get cut off on purpose, abbreviations like tfw and tbh, etc. Test some for yourself, and see what feels comfortable—all as delivery systems for your own humor. But the main thing is to practice practice practice. Nothing happens in a day. Heck, it took God seven to make the world and there were still some kinks. So go on, write some jokes in the safety of your own homes/phones. Because a phone has never called anyone “sir”….yet? All hail Zorp!

 


Lorena, was born inside of a Lorena, found inside another Lorena. Her and all her clones have created content with BuzzFeed, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” and also hosted Chipotle’s Snapchat channel! You can additionally find them all filming, writing, and performing on her comedy channel @Quesodigital as well as on a Magnet Theater Sketch team on Mondaynights. Please contact Lorena if you want to make some “hahah” together or if you’re interested in being cloned**

**Cloning not guaranteed

The 10 funniest “Saturday Night Live” sketches starring women

Many a super-famous comedian has been launched into the big leagues by the legendary Saturday Night Live. But our favorite SNL *cough* female comedians *cough* don’t always get the recognition they deserve. From Gilda Radner to Cecily Strong, the women of SNL have set themselves apart as the queens of sketch comedy. Break out the popcorn and rosé for what I think are the top ten SNL sketches starring badass women. (If you think I’ve missed one, throw a piece of popcorn at me and tweet it at @GOLDcmdy!)

1. Gilda Radner as Roseanne Roseannadanna

If only all commencement speeches went something like this…

2. Kate McKinnon in Actress Roundtable

Host Margot Robbie couldn’t even wait until she was off camera to give McKinnon the laughs she so deserved.

3.Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton

There’s no comedy chemistry like best friends playing worst enemies.

4. Kristen Wiig as the Target Lady

Classic Peg!

5. Bronx Beat with Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler

Let’s face it. We all know a few moms like Betty and Jodi.

6. Ana Gasteyer as Martha Stewart

Ana Gasteyer has Martha Stewart’s real recipe for success.

7. Rachel Dratch as Debbie Downer

*Cue sad trombone sound effects*

8. Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong in Asian-American Dolls

Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong push the envelope in the pushiest way.

9. Molly Shannon as Mary Katherine Gallagher

Aren’t we all Mary Katherine Gallagher?

10. Jane Curtin on Weekend Update

Aaaaaaaaand the buttons come off!

 

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Kaitlin Goldin is a student, writer, actress, and devout McJew based in the Bay Area. She is currently a junior at Marin Academy in San Rafael, and she is credited with such historic events as creating the internet, finding the cure to polio, and discovering the classic combination of Oreos and peanut butter. She also enjoys long, romantic walks on the beach and monster trucks and all that crap.

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5 ways the internet has transformed comedy

Watch this clip! Download this podcast! HOW HAVE YOU NOT SEEN the latest episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee?!? Thanks to the internet, comedy is EVERYWHERE—and it’s pretty much always screaming at you to take your funny vitamins. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing, for both comedy and comedians? The answer: IT DEPENDS, OBVIOUSLY. Here are five key changes, according to me.

 

1. The internet makes performing easy.

In the immortal words of Aparna Nancherla: “Best part of internet: everyone has a voice. Worst part of internet: everyone has a voice.” In a comedy context, that means that the internet can help budding comedians—especially those in club-starved towns, or too young for THAT LIFESTYLE—find an audience, or help anyone with a YouTube account think they can become an overnight comedy sensation.

 

2. 140 characters is the soul of wit.

Or is it? Some, like Peter Serafinowicz, laud platforms like Twitter for forcing them to hone their one-line game. Others (see Martin Trickey) think this makes an audience too hard to work with the online audience craves instant gratification, and can only sometimes get it, leading to instant approval or dismissal of a performance.

 

3. It’s there…FOREVER.

The ability to replay and rewatch has led to increased scrutiny. That’s good, when it helps hold comedians like Tosh, Bill Maher, etc. accountable for inappropriate jokes. But it also opens up every last detail of a set for criticism. Internet hecklers don’t leave when the show’s over.

 

4. It makes for a bigger farm team.

Not every attempt to convert internet comedy to mainstream works (think Netflix specials like Haters Back Off). But comedians like Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer originally started out on a web series. That’s where HBO’s Insecure came from, too. The Internet might not make everyone a star, but it is fertile new ground for talent.

 

5. It opens virtual doors.

The internet is high on bias, but also pretty low on red tape. This means that folks who normally come up against barriers to entry in comedy (sexism and racism, say!) can produce and share their own work, set their own terms, and build their own audiences. Best part of internet: everyone has a voice!

 

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Gillian Rooney is a teenage American comedian and writer based in Connecticut. She is currently a student of Competitive Swordplay (member of Fairfield High School Fencing Team.) She is also an alumna of GOLD Comedy’s pilot workshop series!

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What’s your sense of humor?

 

Just like a fingerprint, no two people have the exact same sense of humor. Humor is a very fluid and flexible personality trait that is constantly changing and adapting to new life experiences. What one person finds hilarious might make someone else incredibly uncomfortable. You know this if you’ve ever seen George W. Bush try to give a neck massage.

 

This quiz is designed to see which of the 6 main styles of humor—we’ll call them observational, satire, deadpan, dark, surreal, and slapstick—tickles your funny bone. It certainly doesn’t mean that this is the only kind of humor that works. (And it also doesn’t mean that there are only 6 styles of humor!) But it might give you a bit of a clue about what your own comedy style might be, which is can be a key element of your comedy persona. At very least,  it might point you in the direction of some awesome new comedians, movies, and shows to check out.

 

1. What’s your favorite punchline?

2. Favorite comedian?

3. What’s the deal with…?

4. Favorite SNL sketch?

5. What do you do to lighten a mood?

Wedding Reception Bingo

There’s a certain time in every twentysomething’s life when there are just so … many … weddings. After a while, it may seem like there’s nothing to do but get hammered and make flawed makeout decisions. Fortunately, here’s a printable activity chart for you and your other troublemaker friends, which is why you were all seated together out on the patio in the first place. Happy hunting!

 

 


Amy Keyishian has worked for the entire range of magazine genres, from her start as an editorial assistant at Sesame Street Parents to her four-year stint as a staff writer at Cosmopolitan. She has also written for Maxim, Glamour, Self, Redbook and Men’s Health, and was the sex-advice columnist for the military-focused magazine Drill. Amy has also moonlit as a young-adult fiction author (with three under her own pseudonym, Amy Kaye), a standup/improv/sketch comic, and, in her darkest days, as a marketing copywriter.

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How to level up from mics to shows

As a stand-up comedy newcomer, it can sometimes feel like a gargantuan task to move from open mics to booked shows. What’s more, mics can feel like a masochistic exercise of, “how much of a beating can my self-esteem take before I pull a KONY 2012 meltdown?” After swimming up stream crafting your material, shows are a sought after reward validating your hard work. There’s no linear path towards getting booked, but there are tangible steps you can take to move in that direction.  

 

1.  Be friendly and ‘find your people.’

When you’re starting out, the people who are going to book you on shows are your friends and mentors.

When you’re at open mics, don’t just do your set and skedaddle; hang around and reach out to people. If you like someone’s joke, tell them. If you think someone is funny and/or enjoy being around them, make an effort to see that comic outside of mics.

Many comedy shows are like hangs and everybody wants to spend time with those they love most. Be someone people want to be around. It sounds political, which sometimes it is, but if you make a genuine effort to surround yourself with comedians/comedy you like and treat everyone with kindness and respect, the give and take is all sincere.  

I think the only thing you shouldn’t do is try to create your comedy in a vacuum. If you try to work alone, or be above it all – and you don’t meet or connect with people, I think a lot of people get lost there. You have to find your people. These are the people you’re going to be with for years, it’s like your graduating class, and there’s a bond and a closeness there with the people you did mics with that, for me, has been one of the most rewarding aspects of comedy. Seeing people grow and growing closer with people over the years.” – Marcia Belsky

2.  Have your own show.

DIY, baby! If you do the work to properly promote it, producing your own show is an excellent way to ensure yourself stage time. What’s more, producing your own show can be used as a credit to promote yourself. Plus, you can use it as leverage for spots on another comedian’s show.

3.  Support your friends’ shows.

It’s all about that quid pro quo. The first time I went to a more established friend’s show, I was given a guest spot. I didn’t realize this was common practice amongst comedians, but if you hang around and support your buddies, they’ll sometimes give you that sweet, sweet stage time.

4. Bark.

If you are an introverted sweet pea who’s exhausted by the idea of all of this “friend-making,” barking may be for you! You don’t need to engage with anyone beyond shouting, “Comedy show inside! Five dollar beers! AC! Please love me!”

When you’re starting, barking is one of the easier paths to stage time in front of a room of non-comedians. It can be an unpleasant experience, but worth it if it’s getting you on a quality show.

5.  Bringers.

Do you have rich alcoholic pals that want nothing more than to see YOU tell jokes? Wow, you do? Please, hook me up because your girl is trying to get on a bringer.

As with barking, there’s a stigma attached to Bringers. Mostly because comics are salty about not having several friends who can shell out $40 dollars to see their comedy, but ALSO because some of them are unethical. The booker may not care about the quality of the showcase so it becomes an exploitation newcomers for money. What’s more, many beginners get stuck doing bringers. They’ll go to an open mic, bomb, and run back to the comfort of an easy laugh (because you’re performing for family and friends), never learning how to properly write a joke.

Nevertheless, if you do your homework, some of them are a doorway into clubs. Plus, If you have a 5-7 minute set you’d really like to record, bringers are a great place to acquire a high quality tape.

6.     Make art.

Are you an ARTEEST? Does Michaelangelo swoon 4 u? Did you attend art school, but when you entered the workforce you were like, “nah,” and have yet to use your degree in any meaningful way? Then poster-making is for you.

Comedians all want a super fly poster for their comedy show. However, we’re all poor lil’ babies working with pennies. Notice a show doesn’t have a poster (or if they have one, it’s trash)? Offer up your poster making services for free in exchange for a spot. They get a dope flyer and you get an opportunity to show off your sillies. Everybody wins!

7.  Get credits.

How do you acquire a credit when you’re struggling to get on bar shows? Get creative!

“There are always other avenues to get credits,” says Brandon Scott Wolf. “I was an SNL Weekend Update freelance contributor before moving to New York. Develop a social media presence that’s undeniable, write for a comedy publication like The Onion or Clickhole, or figure out a way to go viral. It’s all about standing out!”

Also, if you have a video you like of your stand-up (or any type of comedy), submit to comedy festivals. Festivals are a great way for newcomers to be seen, legitimized and receive a credit.

8. Ask.

Heck yeah, it’s uncomfortable! But if you send an unassuming message to the producer of a show along with a video, no one will fault you. Your messages will most certainly be ignored, but some of them won’t. Asking for spots is how a lot of comedians get booked. The person who’s booking a show is more likely giving a spot to a friend who has asked, as opposed to someone who has not.

Owner of the world-famous Comedy Cellar in New York, Noam Dworman, told GOLD this exact same thing during a recording of The Comedy Cellar Radio Show.

9. Put in time and be funny.

If you’re not getting booked, there maaaaay be a valid reason why. Maybe you’re just not quiiiiiiite ready. Keep writing, keep going to mics, and reach out to other comedians. As long as you’re funny and not a creepy or mean magoo, it’ll eventually happen.

10.  There’s no “one size fits all” path.

There are no right or wrong way to do comedy. 

I used to always stress about whether or not I was doing enough mics. I’d do two-three a night, four-five times a week and worry it wasn’t enough until a comic I loved told me she would just do one mic, every other night or so, and only do a second set if she felt she really wanted to try something specific again,” Marcia Belsky says. “Otherwise, she’d go home and write. It made me realize that for some comics, you can get distracted by doing so many mics that it almost becomes counterproductive. So, what works for one person might not work for you.”

Know thyself and push forward accordingly.


Blair Dawson is a New York based standup comedian, improvisor, and writer. Working as an ESL teacher in Thailand, she got her start in comedy performing in expat communities across southeast Asia. Blair has studied sketch and improv with the UCB Theater and is a contributing writer for GOLD Comedy. Additionally, she produces and co-hosts a monthly sex-positive storytelling and stand-up show, sponsored by Babeland, entitled, “U Up?” Blair’s comedy explores dark themes of the human condition through a childlike lens of silliness and curiosity. She’s your new best friend and can’t wait to induct you into her cult!

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