Welcome to the 200th episode of the School of Laughs podcast! What an amazing journey this has been. Two hundred? Yes indeed. We made it. To be perfectly honest there were many times where I thought about moving onto something else. The amount of time invested in this show was preventing me from doing some other projects that kept circling back to the “to-do” list.
All that said, having Doc Kennedy come aboard as the editor for recent episodes of the School of Laughs podcast. He has been a huge help and the only reason I am able to continue. If you know Doc – shoot him a “thanks” for helping out. Also, I never would have gotten the ball rolling without Gavin Miller. He showed me the ropes as far as production and was the editor for the first half of the episodes. Gavin is in Arkansas with his wonderful wife and two adorable kids.
So what have we learned two hundred episodes in? A lot. I would like to walk through the process from a few different angles. Because we cover A LOT on this show.
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FORMER SCHOOL OF LAUGHS STUDENT SUCCESS
Without a doubt my biggest thrill is seeing former guests and students have success. I know I risk leaving people out when I start citing shows, and I will inadvertently do that today. But I wanted to give both new and old listeners a run down on what we have tackled here on the show.
First, former students. I love to see folks like Brian Bates go from a guy who took a class just to learn about writing comedy – never intending on pursuing it and performing it – go from his first 3 minute set to being able to headline Zanies and release a CD. Brian keeps getting stronger as a writer and performer and constantly is opening on the road with Nate Bargatze, among other great comedians.
Grace Klein, who was just on Episode 198 listened to this podcast before she ever tried stand up. She took the online class and jumped in head first. Another former online student – Ed Wiley – went from causally interested in comedy to performing across the country and becoming popular with multiple viral videos. Rhonda Corey, yet another online student, has gone on to win the Clean Comedy Challenge and continues to become one of the sharpest joke writers I now.
COMEDY THAT HEALS, HELPS and MAKES WHOLE
I’ve also learned how other podcast listeners have used humor to overcome adversity. Jeff Allen was able to conquer alcoholism. Kay Dodd and Aaron Sorrels both use comedy to fight addiction and shine the light for others to do the same.
And my friend Bill Foley, a great guitarist and singer from my Columbus, OH days, literally saved people during a knife attack while playing a gig and survived to tell about it. Proving that Love Always Wins.
Other guests have found ways to use comedy for a purpose bigger than their own career. Shawn Reynolds, one of my early podcast listeners, loves kids. He’s had six – one way or another. And now, he travels the country performing as part of Compassion International finding sponsors for children who need assistance across the globe.
Comedian Nazareth puts on arena shows as Crusades to lead people to Christ.
Scott Long, my longtime comedy buddy from Indianapolis gave us killer insight on becoming a local presence and producing fundraiser shows.
These comedians using comedy for a higher purpose are one reason I love to do the School of Laughs podcast.
LATE NIGHT TV COMEDIANS
For those listeners who want to know about the inside experience of performing on late night TV we have several guests who performed on Letterman including, Ross Bennett, Andy Hendrickson, Jeff Caldwell, and Keith Alberstadt.
Dusty Slay joined us shortly after his first appearance on Jimmy Kimmel and now has a couple of Jimmy Fallon’s and an appearance on the Grand ‘Ole Opry under his belt.
Nate Bargatze, who has appeared two Netflix Specials talks about the experience and how to acknowledge the audience on Episode 74.
John Crist joined us just as he started blowing up the Instagram and Facebook world with viral videos. It’s been great to see him headline his tour across the US and bring in other podcast guests like Mike Goodwin and Dustin Nickerson along for the ride.
DRY BAR COMEDY
And how about this DRYBAR COMEDY phenomenon? Several guests have had nice results and increased opportunities from those tapings including Jeff Allen who has over 100 million Facebook Video views of his material. Andy Beningo, Lisa Mills, Robert Mac, Tony Deyo, Bone Hampton and Taylor Mason all past podcast guests have taped DryBar specials. And a special shout out to former School of Laughs student Lee Hardin who’s episode just released. Other students are in the pipeline for recording or release as we speak. As are former guests John Branyan, Robert G. Lee and Marty Simpson.
INSIGHT FROM INDUSTRY AGENTS AND MANAGERS
Maybe you are a year or more into it and are wondering how to get booked at a comedy club? Check out the search bar on the schooloflaughs.com website for podcasts and blog posts to get you off on the right foot.
What about learning from decision makers on how club managers think? You might want to listen to Lucy Sinsheimer on episode 146 who books comedians at Zanies in Nashville.
If you are interested in performing outside of a comedy club we’ve got you covered there, too. We have dug deep into the niches to find the riches.
If you are curious about the college market you should listen to the incredibly insightful and tip-driven interview with Chuck Johnson of Summit Comedy Inc., episode 149.
Mike James, Dale Jones and Mark Klein all shed some light on how the cruise industry works for comics. And if you are really into that, we will soon have an episode with Tommy Drake who really goes deep into how to prepare for that opportunity.
Want to perform for a corporate audience? Episode 181 has you covered as well as multiple blog posts. Want an agency’s perspective on corporate market? Listen to Jamison Yoder from Funny Business Agency on episode 142, Tim Grable from the Grable Group gives us insight on episode 78. And Larry Weaver dug deep into tips on Episode 199.
MAKING AND SELLING MERCH
Maybe you’ve been at this stand-up comedy thing long enough to think about recording yourself and selling product. We talked to Jeremy Rochford at Discmakers about whether to go with a CD, DVD or DIGITAL Download. If you are a musical comedian, I interviewed Nathan Meckel who worked with me on several of my CDs about how to choose a producer. And once you get that recording made you will want to send to SiriusXM which we cover in an early episode – episode number five I believe. And then, make sure you are getting royalties through SoundExchange(episode 48).
Are you getting the idea here? For the School of Laughs podcast to hit two-hundred episodes is a lot. This podcast is like a comedy university in your ears. If you’ve learned half as much as I have you have to be better off than where you started. That is, if you have applied even one-percent of what we have covered on the show.
So the School of Laughs podcast will keep on getting into the never ending journey of a stand-up comedian as we move forward. I’ve really enjoyed this process. And, I really want to thank the Patreon supporters who have made it possible. They see the value in the podcast and donate monthly with a gift of their choosing to make it happen. I thank all of you.
THANK YOU CLUB 52!!!
I would especially like to thank the Club 52 members. These folks support the podcast through Patreon at $7 or more a month. We have a great time with our quarterly hangouts where we run a mini-mastermind. We go over successes and struggles as well as discuss strategies for getting over the next hurdle. It’s a great time and we record each one so those who couldn’t make it live can still get the benefit of the conversation. In fact, our next quarterly hangout is slated for October 5th at 10am Central Time.
Club 52 members also get a weekly email with a specific actionable task to make them bigger, better and more bookable. If you’ve found value in these 200 episodes and would like to join Club 52 or help with a small donation through Patreon you can learn more at www.SchoolOfLaughs.com/Patreon.
If you like to listen to the School of Laughs podcast but don’t want to donate, please consider joining the Insider Tip Sheet Newsletter group. It’s free and is a monthly reminder of what is going on with the podcast with an occasional special freebie just for Insider Tip Sheet subscribers. If you visit SchoolofLaughs .com you’ll see a pop up and can join that way.
Or send me an email. If neither of those appeal to you I would love an iTunes review. Or I would really dig it if you subscribe to the School Of Laughs Youtube channel.
TOOLS FOR YOUR JOURNEY
I would also like to mention a few other episodes that can be particularly helpful in the comedy journey. Episode 10 covers how to write up a contract for niche gigs. Creating a Set List that Flows is the topic of episode 28. Overcoming Stage Fright, episode 54. Bouncing Back from Bombing is covered in episode 62. And the most requested item from the podcast remains the annual goals tracker. You can listen to episode 183 and then request yours.
THE LESSONS I’VE LEARNED
What have you learned from the School of Laughs podcast? I would love to hear from you via email or twitter. It’s always interesting to hear what different folks pull from the episodes.
I know I’ve learned a lot. One, is that there is no single way to pursue this profession. For some to is a dream and remains elusive. For others, it is a destiny and nothing can stand in the way. One thing is clear, every single person who pursues stand-up comedy has to sacrifice something else in order to do it correctly.
YOU HAVE TO SACRIFICE
That isn’t easy to hear. But it is true. You can’t add this dream on top of everything else you are doing. You have to get clear about what you will give up to gain momentum. That isn’t an easy conversation to have with yourself. Or your spouse, or kids, or boss. But it is a reality. What are you currently doing that you are willing to set aside so you can get serious about getting better at comedy?
It has been different things for me at different points in my career. When I first started I gave up the security of a weekly paycheck, health care and potential for advancement within a company – Simon and Schuster. I was in my early twenties and had no responsibilities other than a student loan, rent and a truck payment. I adjusted my rent by moving in with two other comedians to make it feasible.
Later on, when I got married, I decided to not sacrifice my marriage for comedy. It became obvious to me that I wanted to spend time with my incredible wife. So, I sacrificed being a “road comic” who was averaging 300+ days a year out of town. I was pretty willing to move into entertaining corporate audiences since my clean comedy suited that anyway. But, it was a mental challenge to still consider myself successful at comedy when I wasn’t hanging out at the clubs. My income, stability and time at home greatly increased from that decision. But it wasn’t exactly easy on the ego.
When my first child came along I realized I was going to sacrifice the occasional one-nighter and the longer two week cruise gigs to spend more time helping out around the house and getting to know the little fella. Again, I gave up gigs I liked to live a life I needed to live. Neither time did my wife demand it, suggest it or talk to me about it. I just knew it was the right thing to do.
When I rededicated my life to Christ in 2008 I also had decisions to make. I decided to quit doing a few bits and jokes in my act that weren’t truly reflective of who I was. One big decision came when I stopped selling a t-shirt that was generating over thirty thousand dollars a year in income. The phrase on the shirt wasn’t in line with my values anymore. Really it never was. But the income was so good I ignored it. Although I sacrificed selling that shirt, I more than made up for it in new opportunities. These are always opportunities that wouldn’t have been offered to me if I had held on to the pursuit of money first, values second.
There have been many more sacrifices for comedy. And sometimes I sacrifice personal comedy goals to pursue helping others. This podcast, the comedy classes, becoming a board member, then VP, then President and now back to board member of the Christian Comedy Association is a huge sacrifice to some specific comedy goals. But, since one of my personal goals is to help others – I am okay with those choices.
When my second child started school I really wanted to be close those even more. I prayed for opportunities close to home so I could stay connected to her and the rest of my family. God provided me with an ongoing TV audience warm-up gig here in town.
GET CLEAR WITH YOUR GOAL AND YOUR “WHY”
So, as you consider beginning (or continuing) this journey, be clear in understanding that there will be tough choices. Take time in making those decisions. Be mindful, prayerful and careful when evaluating your current and potential circumstances. Be considerate of those who help you along the way. Even when they disagree with you. Especially when they disagree with you.
When you set goals such as filling your calendar, getting a tv spot, signing with an agency, etc., ask yourself WHY this is actually important. If the answer is always money, it’s probably going to be frustrating. If you set goals to become a better communicator so you can help others laugh, heal, look inward or consider things in a new way you will be heading down a rewarding path. The result may not always be visible to those around you, but it will be noticeable within those you help.
I know the School of Laughs podcast can be the most serious comedy podcast out there. It may not even be a comedy podcast. Maybe it should be listed under self-help. But that’s the reality. If we aren’t helping others our talents are pretty shallow and useless.
So, prioritize what is most important and set goals accordingly. And realize there will be sacrifice.
NEW CLASS OFFERING FOR SPEAKERS, CEO’S, CONTENT CREATORS
What is on the horizon for the School of Laughs? In the first week of January 2020 I will be offering a brand new day and a half workshop for speakers and content creators who want to add confidence and comedy to their programs. This will be only for those who have an hour plus speech, training program, keynote or weekly digital offering. Stand-ups will definitely benefit from this as well. But the focus will be on helping you add comedy to specific parts of your presentation. We will meet in Nashville and more details will be coming soon. But I am extremely excited about the new program which I’ve designed from the ground up just for this interactive workshop.
If that sounds like something you would be interested in, send an email to SchoolOfLaughs@gmail.com and put Master Laughter Class in the subject line.
BUSINESS OF COMEDY CLASS
September 21st, 2019 I will be running the Business of Comedy Class in Nashville from 12:30-3:30 PM. Investment is $99. If that sounds like something you would be interested in, send an email to SchoolOfLaughs@gmail.com and put Business Class in the subject line. I’ll send more information your way.
Okay – that’s going to do it. Thanks again for listening to the School of Laughs podcast. Stay safe and stay … funny!