In this article, The Business of Stand-Up Comedy: 30 Minute Comedian Video – Part 1, I’ll discuss the importance to having a thirty minute video of worked out material and to create a quality recording.
In my previous article, The Business of Stand-Up Comedy: Be a Part of the Comedy Community – Part 2, I encourage comics to become an MC, get a mentor, and create their own shows and open mics.
The Comedian Video
Getting an excellent thirty-minute video of your show must be accomplished to submit for gigs. This is a bigger challenge than you may think even if you have thirty minutes of material. Finding a club that will give you a regular thirty minutes spot is a rarity.
Then once you learn how to pace a thirty-minute show, you’ll need to get a good show on tape. Not all shows will be a show you will want to send. It maybe a funny show, but you might have had to riff with your audience so much that not much material was performed. There are also camera concerns.
You may need to find a friend who owns a camera or use the camera supplied by the club (often with a fee and not very good quality). To solve these problems, several of my students have set up their own showcases for the purposes of getting a tape. Four of them pooled their money, rented a space, hired a camera crew, and invited their own audience and got an excellent tape.
The ironic thing about this requirement is that the Bookers will probably not watch the entire tape. They will watch the first few minutes, maybe, then listen to it in the background as they do office work. The Bookers just wants to hear that you can fill the time. Nonetheless, this is a necessary step in getting work in a comedy club. When you have no recommendation from a Booker, comic or are willing to go in person to do a guest spot…your video is your most important sales tool. Get it done right.
Bookers Want an Unedited Show
Present your show without interruptions so the Bookers know you didn’t edit out the unfunny moment. It’s not just about material, they also look at the rhythm of your entire set, your interaction with the audience, how well you handle the unexpected, and whether or not your personality, tone and material subject is right for their club. Give them your best show.
Attend to the Focus
I know this seems ridiculous to mention, but I’ve seen too many videos that are so out of focus that the watcher can’t tell whose performing. Or because a waitperson constantly passes in front of the camera causing the auto-focus to shift to bring only the waitperson into focus, then it may take several seconds before refocusing on the comic.
Get to know the camera or ask the camera operator to make sure the camera is set on manual-focus. This means the operator must physically focus the lens on you while you are on stage at the start of the show. Thereafter, it will remain focused on you, no matter who walks in front of it.
The best framing for the shot is to place the performer’s head very near the top of the screen and cut him or her off at the mid thigh or just below the knees. Notice the framing of comedians on late night TV shows. If your image is too small, the Bookers won’t be able to get a sense of who you are.
Conversely, you don’t want to shoot with a 60 Minutes close-up, where they can only see the comic’s face. Notice how stand-up is framed on the television talk shows like the Tonight Show, Late Night, and other talk shows that showcase comedians. This will give you a good idea of how to frame your videos.
In my next article, The Business of Stand-Up Comedy: 30 Minute Comedian Video – Part 2, I’ll show the best ways to present yourself in the video meant to get work.