How to be funny on Instagram

Now that you’ve been schooled in the art of writing a funny tweet (the original fun-size and the updated Costco-size version), let’s take word counts out of the whole equation. If you’re building your comedy brand, you’ll want to think seriously about Instagram. It has more users, and its platform boasts higher engagement than Twitter. Translated into human-speak, that means more people, particularly people your age, are going to see you there.

Of course, if you’re like me, and you’re happily neck-deep in social media addiction, you’ll have several platforms running at once, each with a slightly different flavor. (For the love of God, don’t do that thing where you cross-post the same joke on every network. People are seriously allergic to that much déjà vu.)

 

The basic setup-punch

So. You’re on Instagram, and you’re funny. What do you do? There are a few different options: You can use it to showcase your cartooning talents, which is great. You can use it as if it were Vine 2.0, creating short snippets of video hilarity. Also great. But what I want to dig into here is how to create a joke that depends on the image, and is deepened with your commentary. This is different from a meme: Memes have text written write on top of them. Boom. Instagram comedy is a little more nuanced, and takes a little more time; viewers will look at the image, which is the setup. Then they click, and get the punchline. See? It’s a joke.

Chelsea Peretti of Brooklyn 99 is great at these. In this one, she’s copping to being that person who cannot be told not to do things, because that will just make her do the thing even harder. It makes me laugh and it makes me identify with her.

 

The collection of oddities!

Another kind of joke: The collection of oddities. There are lots of these on Insta, but my personal favorite is called “Sad Topographies.” It’s as simple as it is brilliant: Images of real place-names in  that are totally devastating. Anything you’re fascinated with, you can collect and reproduce in this way, as long as you credit the source and honestly, enthusiastically adore your subject. I’ve got a file of lamps from David Lynch movies and TV shows waiting for me to have the time to categorize and upload them one by one. What’s your obsesh? Share it.

This account, @poundlandbandit, creates composite images that illustrate a concept. It can take a minute to get into it, and some of the jokes thud with Americans because the ideas are Brit-based, but goddamn, when it works – as in this joke, about that one girl who goes out to the club and just acts miserable, but for why? But she does – plays on common experiences that connect us all in misery and hilarity.

Snap now, caption later

If you’re thinking of getting started being funny on Instagram, I would love to give you some pointers. When writing a joke, you walk around with a notebook and write down things that strike you as funny, so that you can think it over later and develop it into a bit. Visual bits work the same way: I take pictures of things that strike me as odd, ridiculous, incongruous, or just plain amusing, and later, I look them over and try to think of how I can deepen the joke with words.

 

Here’s an example. My synagogue has this odd little door in a wall high above anything that could possibly serve as a floor. (Never mind that I clearly snapped this photo in the middle of Rosh Hashonah services. Obviously I apologized on Yom Kippur.) So the image itself is surreal and amusing, and would have been fine on its own. But I thought it over, and first typed “This is where I go when I want to get high.” But 420 jokes are kind of stale. Next, I thought of “I really hate visitors.” Still didn’t do it for me; I’m a little tired of introverts announcing what introverts they are every other minute. I thought about a Rapunzel joke, but I finally settled on “I said where’s my pizza?” For me, this hit a sweet spot and told a tiny story about a woman who is sick and tired of people not being able to reach her unreachable home. I love thinking about that woman. I think that sometimes, we are all that woman.

Rewrite!

I should mention here that I have a hard-and-fast rule: Never use the first version of a joke. In fact, the first three versions are garbage. I held to this rule when I was writing headlines for Cosmopolitan and when I was doing standup, and I stil hold to it when I’m texting my dad. Never settle for that first version. That first version is for the bro in the backwards baseball cap who says “I’m hilarious, right?” and “People say I should do standup.”

 

There used to be a game we played at UCB called “stab the joke in the face.” I don’t know if they still play it, and I can’t remember what it consisted of beyond flogging a dead joke until it was pulverized dust. From that dust, you often find gems forged of pure desperation. And that, my friends, is comedy.

Don’t fear the dad joke

Speaking of texting my dad, my next example is pure Dad Joke. I know for a fact that my dad would love it because I did, in fact, text it to him. I snapped the picture because I just thought it was bizarre to see all those fours in a row like that. But what to say about it? A 2/3 of Satan joke? I was stymied and about to fall back on just being plain-old stunned into wonderment, when I realized that “what’s it all for” could so easily become a painful pun. Sometimes the jokes are so bad, they’re good. You be the judge.

Kids do the most ‘grammable things

Apparently this article is mostly just me going through my Instagram and bragging on it. I’m okay with that, despite my dismal numbers. (I am no longer performing standup and don’t need a platform. Yours will be different!) A major theme in my Insta-stream is “random stuff my kids leave around that is disturbing/odd/amusing out of context.”

 

In this case, I found a worry doll in the kitchen and noticed that it had a baby, and the baby was giving me side-eye. I am ALL ABOUT babies giving me side-eye. If I were a baby (and some might argue that I totally am a giant baby, and where, I ask you, is the lie?), I would give everyone the side-eye, because being a baby is 100% bullcrap.

 

Actually, this particular pair of worry dolls tells a story, too: The mom is giving side-eye to the baby, who is giving side-eye, or disdainful front-eye, to the viewer. I simply titled it “This worry-doll baby has zero time for your nonsense” to let the viewer know that (a) I know they are worry dolls, (b) The worry dolls’ expressions amuse me, and (c) I know exactly how that worry doll feels.

Now that I look at her again, the worry doll might be flinging herself in front of her mother to protect her from an errant laser beam, something she is very tired of having to do. Also, the mom might be Beyonce because her hair is blowing back for unknown and obviously glamorous reasons.

In sum: If you don’t feel like your Twitter jokes are landing, try another platform, and another form of joke. Your voice might need a different kind of mic.

 

What’s your favorite visual joke? Send us a thousand-word image.

 

How to write a funny tweet

Real talk. You want to be funny on Twitter. But how do you do it? Back when we first wrote about how to write a funny tweet, we had only 140 characters. Now that we have twice as many to play with (!), so we thought we’d double the number of articles on this topic, too!

 

Being funny on Twitter is very similar to being funny IRL. Twitter is a terrific place to: See what resonates with an audience, find YOUR audience, get practice writing jokes. You may find that if a joke lands well on Twitter, it will also land well in your standup set or in your script. And. That. Is. #UsefuLInformationForYouToKnow

 

In your phone, keep a notebook page dedicated to funny tweets. You can even title the page “FUNNY TWEETS.” My page is called TWEETS, IDEAS, SKETCHES because I abhor labels and I like to keep it open as to what my random musings will turn into.

 

On that page, you can digitally scribble every passing observation that strikes you. The note you take down doesn’t have to be funny. Just write what grabs you as truthful or piques your interest.

 

At this point, your thought is a lumpy piece of dough. Before you can share it with the world, you will get out your rolling pin, shape that baby up,  and then put it in the oven. (I haven’t baked bread since Girl Scouts, but probably that’s roughly the sequence of events?)

  1. The Dough: A thought that makes you laugh and feels truthful, even in its lumpy form.
  2. The Rolling Pin: Give it a set up and a punchline.
  3. The oven: Put some hashtags on it so it becomes part of a larger conversation.
  4. Feed bread to strangers on the internet: See how people respond. If people reply to you, that may be an opportunity to add tags to your initial joke! You know you’ve made a fun tweet when other members of the Twitterverse dive in and play with you.

Okay, so that’s how you get inspired. But what form will your tweet take? Here are a few genres of tweet that may slay:

  • Internal monologues, especially when written like a script:

  • Comparisons (again, this is really good show vs. tell):

  • Comparisons (again, this is really good show vs. tell):

  • Captions: Some photos just beg for elaboration.

  • Honest, sardonic, sad, socially responsive tweets, such as the constant gifts that Aparna Nancherla bestows upon the Twitterverse. I don’t know what to call the “genre” here, so I’m making Aparna her own genre. Read her tweets and you will see why.

 

Since I’ve got you here, let’s talk about how to structure a Twitter joke. The additional characters mean that you can express yourself more naturally, without resorting to letter-words (u c what i mean?) and awkward abbreviations. Say it out loud a couple of times before you tweet it to make sure the reader can hear your voice, as if you were performing the tweet live.

 

You don’t have italics, but you can convey timing and expression with all-caps, some-caps, and no-caps, as well as with too much or too little punctuation. Voilá, all-caps as a stand-in for yelling:

And lack of punctuation to indicate utter resignation:

Sometimes it’s funnier — I can’t explain why — to just dispense with punctuation altogether, or to just not really end a sentence because you ran out of craps

Hashtags are another modern-day form of punctuation you can play with. Feeling the urge to tweet, but not the inspiration? You don’t have to come to Twitter with a brilliant idea. You can roll up to it with a wide-open, blank brain. See what news events and hashtags are trending, and treat that as a brainstorm extravaganza!

For instance, as I write this, #NationalBowtieDay is trending, which reminds me of my friend’s dad, who always wears bowties. He is a classy gent. That, in turn, reminds me of how people have stopped having manners and being classy. Makes me think of…. Okay…. Here is the lumpy dough version of my future tweet:

Bowties are about class and a type of man* who is rare in this day and age.

That feels truthful to me, but it’s kind of a lumpy thought. I need to knead it. Here’s the rolling-pin version, as I attempt to give it a set-up and punchline.

I dedicate this #NationalBowtieDay to the men out there who know themselves well enough to say, Hey. I’m just gonna spill ketchup on a tie anyway, so why not upgrade to a bowtie? To thine own self be true, gentlemen.

So I took the idea of respecting a man in a bowtie and asked myself, why do I respect this person? Well, maybe it’s because he’s a dork, and he knows he’s a dork, and he keeps it real with himself.

But this tweet is not ready for the oven yet. It needs to be shorter. Trying again:

I dedicate this #NationalBowtieDay to the men out there who spilled ketchup on their ties so often that they just. stopped. wearing them. Knowledge is power, gentlemen. To thine own selves, be true.

Okay! I like that! It keeps my initial idea of “classiness” intact by including old timey sayings like “knowledge is power” and my amended Shakespeare quote: “To thine own self, be true.” It honors the initial germ of the thought that men who wear bowties are kind of going against the grain and being a little subversive by not wearing ties, yet still managing to be old-fashioned and more classy than the times require.

I put a couple of periods in there (“just. stopped. wearing”) because I want you to hear how I would read it aloud. Now that I’ve put my tweet in the oven and shared it with the strangers of the Twitterverse to see how they receive it! If I get some funny gifs back, I will definitely retweet them because I am obsessed with a well-placed gif.

Here’s the tweet I made just for you! See how it fares! Twitter is live theater, folks, so I make no promises:

Your turn! Tweet your funny-ified thoughts to the world and mention us, @goldcomedy, so we can share in the fun you are creating!

*Womyn and genderfluid folx also wear bowties. Sometimes they wear the BEST bowties. For the purposes of my tweet, I am focusing on the traveling-salesman image of an old-timey gent in a bowtie.


Emma Tattenbaum-Fine is a comedy writer and performer. She can be seen on Netflix in the acclaimed series “Explained” and has hosted HQ Trivia live in front of millions of 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@EmmaTattenbaum on Twitter @emmatbomb on Instagram

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


How to Produce a Comedy Variety Show at Your School

 Most of the comedians I know happen to also be excellent producers. They weren’t born that way — babies are notoriously terrible producers (of everything but poop and drool). Comedians learn to get good at producing by necessity. They want stage time — a lot of stage time — and the best way to get it is to make it.

But though most comics are producers, not all comedy producers are comics. Some are comedy lovers who want to get comedians onstage so they can sit back and laugh at them and think, “I made this!” And maybe wear a top hat and have a cane like an old-timey producer. Because why be a modern producer when you can be an old-timey one?

Whichever type of producer you aspire to be, you might get a little overwhelmed at the idea of creating your first live event. Let’s start with some terms that sound fancy, but are actually just … English words.

 

Producer

Yeah. Like what even is a producer? Producer is just a catch-all term for a person who makes something happen. Have you ever planned a surprise party? You “produced” that party. Have you ever been the most hard-working person on a social studies project where you were teamed up with two other students? You were the “producer” on that social studies project. You already produce. You just weren’t using the name yet.

 

Venue

The place where a show or event happens. You will need to pick an appropriate venue in which to do your show or event. The auditorium or your school’s black-box theatre, if it has one, come to mind. The cafeteria is another option, or maybe there’s a local coffee shop in your neighborhood that would welcome performers from your school. Once you choose the physical location, you will need to find …

 

Your Point Person

Also known as the “contact”, this is the person to whom you are going to send a million polite emails asking questions about the space and sorting out details. Your point person for the venue should be someone who is professional and timely in their correspondence and who is in a position of power at the venue such that they know what they’re talking about. In other words, your point person should not be the part-time employee who started working there yesterday and will be quitting in a week. An owner or manager is ideal. Which brings us to …

 

Communication

Producers send more text messages and emails than anyone else living (or dead, certainly). I hate phone calls. I find them stressful. But sometimes a producer has got to put on the headphones for a good, old-fashioned telephone talk. Or she has to physically go to a venue to speak in real life to a human being in person. This is to avoid the miscommunications that can spin out of control with endless texting and emailing. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. And by “don’t be afraid,” I mean “be afraid and do it anyway.”

 

Acts

Once you’ve got your venue squared away, you will need to book the acts, otherwise known as the people who will be performing. The process gets more creative here, because you are now asking yourself, “What do I love about the best shows I’ve seen?” You can curate to your tastes.

 

Do you have a super-talented storyteller friend who must be seen? Ask her to perform! Do you know a weird, but friendly, ventriloquist you saw one time at your friend’s little brother’s birthday party? Ask her! Do you have a songwriter friend who can accompany herself on guitar? Ask her to join. Ten to twelve acts at 5 minutes apiece is a rough guide, and no one is ever mad about a quick intermission where they can eat some (free) snacks. Much less after seeing a ventriloquist.

 

Wait. I wanna see this “snacks and a ventriloquist” show I just made up. Please produce it and invite me?

 

Sound and lighting

Comedians must be lit. Not lit as in enlightened and turnt and fun and in touch with current trends (though that is ideal), but specifically with light on them. So that you can see them. When you speak to the venue’s point person, whether that’s the theatre teacher at your school or the owner of the local coffee shop, make sure that if lights go down on the audience, they can be up on the performers.

 

When it comes to sound, make sure that the space is intimate enough that your performers can be heard without mics or, preferably, you will have a standing mic for your performers to use.

 

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!

Sound issues are the most likely ones to tank your show. If you do opt to use a mic, arrive at the venue a full hour ahead of curtain time to make sure the mic has been tested. Ask your point person multiple times to confirm that someone will be present the night of the event who can help you with the mic.

 

When you are an older and more seasoned producer, you will remember the above paragraph and chuckle and think, “Whoa. Was Emma giving good advice or what in that one paragraph about sound!” Future-me thanks future-you for taking this to heart.

 

Red Flags

If you start to feel uncomfortable with people involved in the show — either acts you’re booking or the folks you meet in arranging a venue — involve a trusted adult right away and know that it’s okay to back out of a venue or a commitment. Follow your gut, and if something feels wrong, it is! Producing comes with huge responsibilities and you meet a lot of people. Some are the best and some are the worst. Keep an eye out and ask for help if you’re not sure.

 

Reasons to Produce Things

I know. I made it all sound kind of hard. But the rewards are tremendous. Here’s a short list of reasons why I think you should try at least once to produce comedy:

  • You will meet people who share your interests. These could become lifelong collaborators!
  • You will put yourself in a leadership position that will teach you more in one month than you’d learn doing some other thing for years.
  • You will have something really impressive on your résumé that you can talk up in admission and job interviews.
  • You will have FUN. (I always forget to mention this ‘cause I’m such a type A curmudgeon, but really, FUN should have been the first thing I said.)
  • You will find out what really makes you laugh and sharpen your skills and your voice in choosing the acts.
  • You will perhaps get yourself on stage, and that’s awesome!
  • Your friends will remember that you booked them and will book you when they produce. Producing, like the flu, is wildly contagious and takes all your energy! FUN!

Please reach out to me on Twitter @emmatattenbaum if you have specific producing questions. The future of comedy has a lot to do with who produces it, and I really want it to be you!


 

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

Eight things you need to start your own (funny) podcast

Elsa Waithe is a comedian, activist, and all-around wildchild. Her comedy is a mix of light-hearted but critical jabs at homosexuality and race but mainly herself and weed. She can been seen as a regular performer (and producer) at the Cinder Block Festival and in her feature on an episode of the This American Life podcast. She is also an instructor and incredible supporter of GOLD Comedy!


My partner and I launched our podcast, 2 Spicy, as a response to Heather’s being laid off, and my constantly getting 30-day bans from Facebook. We wanted do a joint project that highlighted news and activism and amplified voices on the left in an effort to push those in the middle further leftward. That’s all we had when we started: an idea, and time. We had no equipment,  experience, or money. But we did have lots of FRIENDS—and tons of questions. Our first step was to reach out to our network and ask them EVERYTHING.

 

So now, I’m here to tell you what we learned—by asking and by doing—so that you, too, can start your own podcast. Here are the top things you need.

 

A topic and a take.

The idea of the podcast was to discuss some of the things that would get me banned from Facebook. We both had really strong ideas and opinions on the world and wanted a way to communicate them other than social media. We’d always been told by the folks around us that they really valued our opinions. In deciding your brand/topic, look toward your interests and hobbies. Surely there’s nothing new under the sun, so don’t be discouraged if there’s already a podcast that deals with your chosen topics. No one can talk about it in the way you do. Humor keeps your listener engaged, it doesn’t need to be goofy or campy to be funny. It just has to be interesting, and the more complex and niche, the better. You want to talk about sports? Then talk about something specific, like worst football fumbles. Politics? Maybe funny speech flubs. Try recurring segments. Have listeners write in. Humor can spring from your personality, your rapport with your co-host or anywhere.

 

A good partner.

As a creative couple we’ve always wanted to do a project that combined our talents. Mine, speaking and humor. Heather’s, thoughtful analysis. We were told before we started the podcast that we wouldn’t make a good podcast because we “agree too much”. We posit that good podcast partners need not agree on every topic nor do they need to argue all the time. It’s more about good on-air chemistry and banter.

 

Equipment: free and crowdfunded/donated.

It is entirely possible to start a podcast with zero dollars. We reached out to our community about helping us record and someone with podcasting experience volunteered to bring his equipment to our apartment. After releasing a couple of episodes and receiving positive feedback, we knew we wanted to be able to record more often without having to wait for someone to come from the other side of Brooklyn. We found out what basic equipment we needed and made an Amazon wishlist, totaling a little over $400. The basic equipment needed was a Zoom recording device, 2 microphones with mic stands and an SD card.  Within a few weeks all items were either purchased for us or donated to us..

 

Research and prep.

Our podcast focuses on current news and trends so our research involves following the news, watching trending topics on social media, and whatever fun/interesting/scary articles we come across during the week. We compile 6 to 8 topics, the points we’d like to discuss about said topics and try to order them in a way that will flow on-air. There’s no scripts, just a pre-planned outline. We like to be able to flow as the convo grows organically.

 

A platform.

Of course the main platform is iTunes. But not everyone is jazzed about Apple products so we are also on BuzzSprout and Stitcher. We don’t use it, but there’s also SoundCloud. These are places where it is free to host your podcast but there are also services where you’d pay. We’ve heard good things about BlogTalkRadio and PodBean. And, of course, there’s always the chance that you’ll be picked up by a larger podcast “stable” like Maximum Fun or American Public Media.

 

Promotion.

We promo the podcast across the three major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The drawback to Facebook is that you’ll need to spend a little money to promote your posts due to their algorithms. We’ve also started making clips of the more interesting sections of each weeks episode and releasing them as video teaser clips which are then released on Instagram and YouTube. We have a Patreon that we direct our listeners to so that they can support the show and get exclusive goodies. And we are always developing tie-in merch—like our 2 Spicy Habanero Sauce. Tune in to our podcast while you put it on…everything!


Elsa Waithe is a comedian, activist, and all-around wildchild. Her comedy is a mix of light-hearted but critical jabs at homosexuality and race but mainly herself and weed. She can been seen as a regular performer (and producer) at the Cinder Block Festival and in her feature on an episode of the This American Life podcast. She is also an instructor and incredible supporter of GOLD Comedy!

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How To Get A Job As A Digital Producer

…with Ana Breton, digital producer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. 

Ana has 7+ years of working in film production. She was a camera operator for the movie “In Football We Trust,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. On the side, you can find her working on comedy videos with The Box, the all-female comedy talk show at The People’s Improv Theatre. She was a member of UCB’s Digital Team The Council and the all-female Digital Team LASH. She was born in Mexico City, speaks Spanish & really likes tacos. Follow her!


What’s your job/job title?

Digital Producer at Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

Did you always want to do this job? 

Digital producing is a fairly new job in television. I didn’t always know it existed, but I was interested in all the things it encompasses: producing videos, contributing to our social media accounts, building our show’s website, making a lot of behind the scenes content. I love letting people peek behind the curtain of the show.

What do you love most about your job? 

I love watching our show live! There’s a very special energy in the studio on Wednesdays.

What skills are most important to have for your job? 

Being versatile! In one day I could: produce a full video, take photos for the show, and/or contribute tweets for our show’s account. You never know what you’ll be doing that morning!

Are those skills that can be developed in other jobs, even outside of comedy?

Absolutely! There’s no school or major that teaches you how to produce online content. You learn bits and pieces from other jobs and experiences, and for me, it all came together here.

What are the challenges in your job related to your being outside the straight-white-dude norm? 

TV and film continue to be run by mostly white men. I feel lucky to work in a diverse environment, but even then your voice can be drowned out sometimes. My advice: Be confident in your point of view, and make sure it’s heard. If we want to change the media landscape, we have to continue to chip until we’re seen and heard.

What is the most important thing a teen or young job-seeker can do if she wants YOUR JOB? Well, not YOUR job, but a job just like yours. 

If you want to work at a political late night show, read up on politics and brush up on joke writing. Reach out to people you’re a fan of; you’d be surprised how many would be interested in mentoring you. Find internships or production assistant gigs, and most important, never give up!

What is most challenging about your job?

Because our show is a political late night show, we are constantly hyper-aware of what’s happening in politics. That can be exhausting. It’s important to take breaks from the news cycle some days!


Ana Breton is currently a Digital Producer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.  Ana has 7+ years of working in film production. She was a camera operator for the movie “In Football We Trust,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. On the side, you can find her working on comedy videos with The Box, the all-female comedy talk show at The People’s Improv Theatre. She was a member of UCB’s Digital Team The Council and the all-female Digital Team LASH. She was born in Mexico City, speaks Spanish & really likes tacos. Follow her!

 

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How To Get A Job In…Comedy Writing and Production

 

“Comedy” means a lot of things. While many of you want to PERFORM comedy, many of you just want to be IN comedy, or NEAR comedy—as a writer, producer, manager or agent, club owner…so many options! We’re here to help you figure out how to get there…with people who ARE there. This week we chat with: longtime (and hilarious) Netflix TV writer and producer Nancy Cohen.

What’s your job/job title?

TV Writer/Producer at Netflix.

Did you always want to do this job?

I worked in TV production in my twenties, while dabbling in writing. I just didn’t have the confidence to pursue it seriously. I’m glad I waited because I collected many stories…just by living.

What do you love most about your job?

Writing a scene in, let’s say, a bakery. And then a couple months later a crew is hammering away, building a bakery. It’s insane. Also, there’s lots of laughing every day.

What is most challenging about your job?

Knowing when to keep my mouth shut and when to open it! That took me YEARS. People who are writers’ assistants learn this firsthand because they work in the room. I worked on set so I had no clue how the room worked. It’s also important to not take things personally. People tell me I have a thick skin, which also took years. In my twenties, I was the first to run to the office bathroom for a good cry.

Are there challenges in your job related to your being outside the straight-white-dude norm?

The challenges: those dudes stick together and have each others’ backs. I think women have to work harder to prove that we’re good at our jobs. But now, more women are getting staffed on shows because guess what: they NEED us. Now I feel like it’s a bonus to be female. We knew this all along but finally, they’ve figured it out! Embrace your POV.

What skills are the most important to have for it?

Having a unique voice and perspective and finding the funny in all situations.

Can those skills be developed in other jobs? 

We write as a team so being able to collaborate is key. If you can get a job as a writers’ assistant or P.A., you’ll learn how the TV machine works, which will be very helpful.

What is the most important thing a teen or young job-seeker can do if they want YOUR JOB? 

Get any job on a TV show. Do the grunt work and keep writing every day, even if it’s just a couple of paragraphs in a journal. Because when you’re older, you’ll go back to those journals for material! See movies, watch TV shows, read books, figure out how YOU want to express yourself then go for it. And then go for it again and again and again. The more you write, the better you’ll get. Also, remember that everyone’s first drafts suck; writing is rewriting.

Want more comedy inspo? Of course you do! Check out more mini Q+As.


After stage managing and fetching people things for years in New York, Nancy Cohen moved to Los Angeles to be a television writer. She has written on numerous shows, including The King of Queens, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Gravity Falls and Fuller House. She’s currently writing on a Netflix show, Alexa and Katie, which will premiere on 3/23/18. Nancy lives in Hollywood with her husband, Brian Frazer, also a writer, and puppy Hubbell, not a writer. In her spare time she tap dances.

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How to turn an anecdote into a story

A funny thing happened to you on the way to the dentist.

 

You told your friend. She laughed and agreed, “That’s funny!”

 

Now, there’s an open mic coming up, and you will get 5 minutes to entertain the masses.

 

What do you need to do to get your dentist-commute-story from its current state, as a brief anecdote, to a meaty 5-minute affair that will make an audience chuckle and learn a little something about the human condition?

 

Strap in, readers. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

WINTER OLYMPIC NEWS HOOK: Here’s my own anecdote-turned-story of mine about gold medal figure skater Tara Lipinski!

 

Find the arc

 

The main goal here is going to be: Find the emotional journey. Every good story has an arc. You begin one place, and you end up somewhere else.

 

How do you feel at the beginning of your story? What expectations do you have?

 

Where do you find yourself at the end in terms of emotional state? What expectations have been met or shattered? What choices did you make in the process?

 

That’s the beginning and end of your story. Here, I made a picture, because I just figured out Word Art.

 

Define your turning point

 

Your story, after its beginning, will have a moment when everything changes.

 

Perhaps it was the moment when your usual route to the dentist was blocked because of road construction. And that was the moment you knew that this would not be your average dentist commute!

 

Side note: Why have I chosen such seemingly boring subject matter for our jumping-off point? Because I want to illustrate that stories can pop up anywhere. The real question is: What makes this day different? Good stories focus on crossroads in people’s lives. Any good scene, story, or joke exists in the moment when the usual becomes the unusual. Otherwise, why would you pick that moment?

 

Maybe you just got a bad grade and are feeling especially down, and your friend has strep throat and canceled her birthday party that you were so excited about, and it’s hailing outside, and now you have to go to the dentist to deal with a cavity. You are at your wit’s end! One more bad thing and you’ll explode! So that’s how we know today is different. We find you at a breaking point.

 

A good story often begins with a character either on the brink of changing or learning, but not yet sure how she will, or a character completely oblivious to change, who is, therefore, gobsmacked by it.

 

Figure out what’s in your way

 

Stories thrive on conflict. What is conflict? I’ll explain it with math:

 

Desire + obstacle = conflict.

 

In shaping your anecdote into a story, consider what you, as a character, desire in this story. Is your desire to NOT be going to the dentist? Are you ruminating about a love interest as you walk the last few blocks there? What do you want, and what are the obstacles in your way?

 

These obstacles come in different shapes and sizes. They are both internal and external.

 

An external obstacle might be: You have to get to a 4 pm dentist appointment so that you can get to orchestra practice at 6 pm, but a blocked highway filled with clown cars foils your plans! (NB: Do not use clown cars in your story. Truth in comedy, folks.)

 

Or maybe your obstacle is internal. You’re on the way to the dentist obsessing about your love interest and feeling horrible self-loathing because your braces are orange and black for Halloween when you realize your love interest’s favorite color is blue. Your internal obstacle is your plummeting self-confidence in the face of your desire. (Wouldn’t it then be surprising if your love turns out to like orange and black because you like it? How might your character then feel by the story’s end? See how conflict creates story?)

 

Putting it all together

 

Okay, now is the moment of transformation for your little anecdote.

Set yourself up for success by conveying your state of mind and what you want at the beginning of the story. Identify your turning point, that moment when everything changes. By the middle of the story, we will expect to find you, our protagonist, facing one or numerous obstacles in pursuit of what you want. By the end, you’ve either gotten what you wanted or haven’t, but in the wanting of it, you are now changed in some way.

 

Articulate that change at the end of your story.

 

“The end is in the beginning.” You will hear this in improv classes when it comes time to end a scene on a laugh line, you might have heard it in algebra class, and you’ll hear it right now in this article about morphing anecdotes into stories. Compare your ending to the beginning of your story. How do you, as a character, now feel? Without the beginning, your ending packs no punch.

 

Plant the seeds of what might be your next story at the end of this one. Not because you are definitely going to write Commute to the Dentist 2: Electric Boogaloo, but because it ends us on a note of curiosity and intrigue. BUM-bum-bum.

 

BONUS STORY: Here’s another about how I had ghosts in my room as a kid and my mom helped to get rid of them.

 

 

Speaking of curiosity and intrigue: What’s YOUR story about? I wanna hear it! Tweet us at @GoldComedy

 


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

 

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