Last night was awesome and let me feel like a rock star. I sold out the venue and then rocked the audience for an hour and fifteen minutes.
Now sure, it was a small audience and it was stacked in my favor as it is my hometown, but it felt great. I had a really good set and am stoked that it is all on tape.
I am going to quickly write about my strategy here. If it succeeds this post will be of interest later. If not, it will be lost on the infinite geography of the internet.
Comedy has genres, just as music does. A Dane Cook fan may not care for Larry the Cable Guy, whose fans might not get Steve Wright whose fans may not dig Kat Williams. I do know individuals who like all four (for the record I like two of 'em) but they're rare exceptions. Each comic has their crowd.
The genres, like in music, can be tough to define sometimes. Blue Collar, Def Jam or Urban, Cafe, Alternative, Club, lots of terms have been thrown about. I could go on all day about these genres, but later...
I went into the open mic scene which is an awesome free for all. I had a blast but then I started getting professional bookings and I realized I would need to cater to a crowd that was drawn by the headliner. A crowd who might be from a totally different world than me. This can be a great thing. You learn what is universally funny, you learn how to take a crowd and show them something that might be new to them and send them away having experienced a new way of thinking.
I fear though, that a comic can also lose his unique voice if he does too much of this kind of performing. I decided that I wanted to build an audience for myself sooner rather than later and so I left the club scene and started my own room in a cafe. Then I started my own tour.
At this point what started as an artistic strategy became a business strategy. This tour brought me back into clubs and was giving me some credential. I have started accepting club bookings again and, again I enjoy working before diverse crowds who may be very different from "my" crowd. I want to skip a stage though. I don't want to claw my way up from opener/emcee gigs to the feature gigs.
So, I booked myself into the Cafe and did a headliner length set and taped it. I will use the video clips and the CD to build my audience, locally but also internationally, via youtube and selling CDs. I've been doing this already and have a head start, but all of my material has been based on my being an atheist, and now I'm ready to go after a much broader demographic (while staying loyal to my original base. I won't be dropping the atheist material.)
My hope is that by popularizing myself performing in a higher position I will establish that this higher position is where I belong and I hope that I will bring MY audience in to the club, wherever that club may be. It's already working a bit. When my Coexist? Comedy Tour went to the LA Improv a kid approached me in the bar and wanted his picture with me. He knew me from youtube.
Television changed the game as did records, cable tv and every other innovation that has come along. Now youtube is the most powerful weapon an upstart has and I plan to use it well. We'll see how it works. Wish me luck.
Just for the record, many disagree with me vehemently about the genres. "A real comic can make ANYONE laugh." I'm told. Some comics feel strongly enough about this they get pissed at my desire to target an audience instead of just going after the audience that is already in the clubs waiting for the next comic superstar to go up in front of them.
I don't see why my view should be controversial. Would it be controversial if I suggested that the experimental noise musician might be unwise to think he will get his start playing the country western bar?