They do not pay your rent

You may have noticed that I’ve been sticking up a bunch of pictures of myself with my jokes written on them. Like this one:

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They’re from my upcoming show “Distant” and they’re very different to what I normally do. I wanted to cover topics that people steer away from on stage because they either find it too difficult or want to be safer in their approach. I genuinely believe comedy, when done in the right way, can change the world.

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(Like this)

However when you’re tackling subjects like this you’ll always face some kind of opposition. It’s easy to feel bad and question yourself when you get comments like this:

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Which was in response to this joke:
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That’s a pretty extreme reaction and it’d be easy to look at that and the many others and think “everyone hates me and I’m doing it wrong”. I started to think like that when I had a phone call with a good friend who’s a successful motivational speaker. I told him about this and he said he’d seen my stuff and thought it was great “you shouldn’t feel bad” he said (I’m paraphrasing) “these people don’t pay your rent”.

And just like that this massive weight lifted off my shoulders. The people who don’t like it won’t like it and the people that do will be your audience and they’re the only people that matter when you’re performing. The peers that mock your approach to things, the anonymous keyboard warriors that attack you, the heckler who shouts nonsense during your set, these people aren’t your audience and are thus completely irrelevant. Negative criticism always comes from a point of fear and jealousy.

No matter what you do remember that. Even if you’re working in a call centre and you’re worried about doing 30 minutes of overtime because it makes you look like you’re sucking up. Remember that your critics won’t feel the benefit of your extra work and are, in fact, proof that you’re doing the right thing.

They don’t pay your rent. Your audience do.

How to be a Human Being (part 2)

Yesterday I started my list of ten things you need to be a better human being (Here is Part 1). Inspired by the constant lists places like Buzzfeed and Elite put out to make sure you fit inside a tiny little box, you know because you’re the same as everyone else right?

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(This is how they make Peter Dinklages)

Let’s continue on with the second half ot things you should know anyway –

6. There are lots of people, all of them are different – Look around you in a public place, every single person is having different thoughts to you. Some of them are worried. They might be worried about money, they might be worried about their family or job, they might be worried that the butt plug they inserted earlier has crept a little too far into their colon. Some of them are happy. They might be happy because they’re thinking about unicorns and cream pies, they might be happy because they just got a promotion or they might be happy because they managed to win that electric steamer on ebay earlier.

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(They may have just freed two thousand slaves)

They might have “Let it go” from Disney’s Frozen stuck in their head and are unable to think of anything else. There is an infinite amount of things that any one person could be thinking about at any point in time and usually we’re thinking about more than one thing. Not a single person will be thinking about exactly the same thing in exactly the same way so why should that be a problem for you. They think God is real, they think Jazz is a legitimate music genre, they think green trousers with a blue jumper is a fine fashion choice, they think Starship Troopers 2 was an excellent movie with a revolutionary form of storytelling involving old scenes used in the previous movie and actors recast in different roles from the first film. Genius. They are different, we are different and you should accept that instead of forcing your ideas onto others. Your ideas are no more legitimate than anyone elses. You wear socks with sandals for christ sake!

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(I don’t get it are your feet cold AND hot? Are these to prove you’re married and can’t make footwear decisions without your significant other around? Is it some kind of secret signal to people like you? Do they stop alien foot diseases? I just…I don’t….)

7. Equal does not mean “the same” – Men and Women are different. I’ve checked. There are things women have that most men don’t and there are things men have that women see too much of. Don’t ever think they’re the same. What they should be is equal. They aren’t, I get that, the world is still dominated by men but day by day we’re getting there. Things are much better now than they were years ago but still not great. Sexual stereotypes are everywhere in every form of media and you shouldn’t be swayed by them, women aren’t weak and men aren’t idiots, women don’t enjoy periods no matter how absorbent their tampon and men aren’t completely clueless when it comes to childcare (if you leave your husband with your baby you will not come home to it dead). HOWEVER there is no problem with holding the door open for anyone, this is called courtesy, or sending poetry to the person you have fallen for, this is called romance, just don’t send it with a picture of your dick or an RSVP containing a cutting of their hair.

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(I WORE YOUR FACE! WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?!)

8. Teach your kids how to be people – I don’t care how much you don’t want to grow up if you have kids you need to teach them how to be good people. You can’t expect them to behave themselves when you’re screaming at them across a crowded McDonalds because they’ve spilled their Red Bull and you can’t remember their name correctly so you assign them a number “FUCKING 7 COME HERE! JESUS IF YOU DON’T STOP HITTING YOUR BROTHERS I’LL COME OVER THERE AND SMACK YOU SO HARD YOU’LL BE PISSING BLOOD! DON’T YOU DARE SWEAR AT ME” I know some of you are reading that and thinking “what’s wrong with that? sounds like a typical Sunday for me” and I will be happy if you don’t ever read my blog again. You can’t expect children to behave without setting the example for them. Be their hero, play with them, feed them right, teach them manners and give them security. Let them develop the confidence to become their own person without you beating it into them while swearing and forcing junk food into their screaming mouths.

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(I don’t understand it, I left him for just a minute. He’d already had his pro plus and his bag of sherbert so I don’t know why he was so angry. He’s only 5 why wouldn’t you give him everything he asks for!)

 

I was on a train platform and a guy shouted at his son “IF YOU DO THAT AGAIN I’LL KNIFE YA!”, I checked my surroundings and no this wasn’t the canteen queue in a prison or the pre bout insults of a cutlery duel so I was understandably baffled. Where was this guy going to go with it if his son did indeed do it again? Would he shiv the kid in the stomach right there on the platform? Would he wait until the child slept? If he didn’t follow through with his threat would the kid never believe that anyone would ever follow through with it and gets killed later in life at the hands of an aggressive mugger? Must be a lovely life living under the constant threat of fatal parental violence, bet he grows up stable.

9. Don’t spend money that isn’t yours – Oh you’d like a holiday abroad would you? You’d like to go somewhere nice with sun, sand, low cost alcohol AND take the children? But you just don’t have the money right now do you? No so you know what you can do you can go and get a loan out, pay for the holiday then pay the loan off gradually YAY! Everyone wins! WRONG! What happens if you can’t pay it back suddenly? What happens when you have an extra expenditure every month that you didn’t have before? JUST SAVE THE MONEY, go next year! Jesus why is this a hard concept? You don’t have the money, you don’t spend the money. Debt is the leading reason for people to be stressed, stress is the leading cause of death in first world countries. If when you went to get the loan they showed you a graph of how much more likely you were to die following the first loan repayment you wouldn’t take it out.

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(After 3 holidays to Ibiza John wasn’t looking forward to his 26th birthday party in Fuerteventura)

10. Don’t be a cock – Everyone is going through life and everyone is dealing with their own problems. It’s actually our job to make everyone else’s life easier. Crazy though it may sound people don’t want to help you with your problems then not get that reciprocated when they come to you with theirs. Help people pick up shopping when they drop it, give up your seat to someone who looks like they need it more than you, don’t eat the last piece of cake without asking you selfish prick! THAT WAS MY CAKE!!!

(I know it was you Van Der Beek)

The biggest thing in all of this is that you shouldn’t need a list to tell you to be anything. Just live life the way you want to, treat people the way you would like to be treated and don’t force yourself on anyone, physically, spiritually or mentally.

Purchase out.

How to be a human being (part 1)

I’ve seen a lot of these lists about online recently. “How to be a well dressed feminist”, “12 steps to becoming the perfect wife”, “10 tips on how to be a subversive racist comedian” and so on and so forth.

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(And now I’m the perfect wife)

I thought I’d add my own list to this cacophony of linear instructions so here’s my top ten tips for just being a decent human being.

1. Don’t touch anyone unless they want you to – hey I get it you’re a hugger. The moment you see someone you want to make physical contact with them in any way you can, the more intimate the better, and then try to sustain that contact until one of you loses control of your bowels. We’ve all been there. Thing is it’s quite discomforting for someone to invade your personal space especially if they’re a stranger and you’re tired from a day at the orphanage, you’re not sure this is the right bus and they go straight for your genitals. It’s tough to process that at 3am in London. Don’t do it. Wait for an indication that they want you to touch them. Maybe hold out your hand and wait for a reciprocal handshake, maybe both arms and wait for the hug itself, maybe you keep your clothes on while you do it and everyone stays happy.

2. Where your genitals go is your business – man do you hate those gays! You can’t pinpoint the exact moment you realized it but boy do you just hate them so much. You hate everything about them, their flamboyant dress sense, their public displays of joyful sexuality, their parades and their sexy bums. You just hate them so much you can’t stop dreaming about them and their hot, tight bums. However you don’t know how much they hate you and they’ve never stopped you and your girlfriend in the street to ask which one of you is the woman. They’ve never beaten you for being a “breeder” and they’ve never disowned your son when you found him and his close friend watching Brokeback Mountain naked so perhaps you should think about your prejudices, take a long look at your behavior then compare it with that of the people you hate. Ever thought that maybe you’re the problem?

3. Taste the rainbow – people come in different colours, like skittles and tree frogs, and none of those colours are better than any of the others. We aren’t Pokemon. Surprisingly racism is still everywhere and people don’t even know they’re doing it. Here’s a test for you: think about what you’re doing and saying, if it’s stereotyping a specific race of people negatively it’s racism. I don’t care if you’re doing it about yourself it’s still racism. If you squint your eyes and say “egg flied lice” when asked what you want from the takeaway you’re a racist, if you do it in front of an audience you’re leading a rally.

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(You can buy it on amazon)

4. Educate yourself – if you can’t understand what people are talking about around you and you’ve not left the country I know it’s hard not to fly into an uncontrollable ignorage. They’re talking down to you right? I mean what even is an “austerity measure”!? Is it a new type of ruler? Why did they change the normal maths set?  I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO “PROTRACTOR” YET! And this is actually where most problems stem from. Ignorance. It’s not other people’s job to make sure you understand what they’re saying, they’re not your nanny and it isn’t nap time. Read the paper, watch the news, read books that aren’t about Captain Max Hardon and his adventures killing ragheads. Ignorance is a mental illness and education is the cure.

5. Everyone else is also your concern – it’s been a long week and you just want to get home so you can put the Duran Duran 12″ you found in Camden Market on your phonograph and trim your fashion beard while your soy roasts in the Eco oven, you don’t want to have to step in when a man starts pushing a woman around on the train. It’s not your problem right? Someone else can be the hero and really you’re not feeling very strong right now, you wouldn’t be much help would you? Wrong. Everyone needs to step up and be the hero. If everyone stepped up we wouldn’t have heroes because we wouldn’t have victims. By not helping you’re just as bad as the guy pushing that girl, you may as well wait for him to knock her unconscious so you can go and get a couple of kicks in yourself.

To be continued…….(in Part 2)

How To turn your 10 into 20

You’re a new comic, you’ve done your first 100 gigs driving from one end of the country to the other just to get 10 minutes on a tiny wooden plinth covered with a threadbare carpet sample. You know you can do so much more but you feel restricted by your tightly practised 10 minute set and the outfit you so painstakingly chose for your first paid gig and has now become an uncomfortable superstition.

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(Which is tough when you got your outfit off your mum in the 80s)

So how do you break the 10 minute barrier and carry on to do a 15 or even 20 minute set. The elusive 20 minute set is the gateway to better paid work and bigger, more illustrious, established shows. For a lot of newer comics 20 minutes seems like an insurmountable goal but I’ve put together a few guidelines to help comics jump this particular hurdle without breaking anything.

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(Otherwise it’s off to the glue factory for you, that or just an office job. Personally I’d rather be rendered down and used to fix a vase)

I’m a storyteller comic so most of my advice comes from that experience, some of it may not be relevant for you one liners out there but really the advice I give to one liner comics for extending their sets is WRITE MORE ONE LINERS.

1. Don’t pad your set with waffle- A lot of comics make the mistake of thinking they can take their existing 10 and just add in audience participation or banter, massive mistake. You wouldn’t plan a journey then only fill your car up with half the fuel you need (be it Petrol, Diesel, LPG, Electricity or magic fairy wishes) so why do the same thing with your set?

2. Write jokes that relate to your existing 10 – You’ve got a lovely tight ten that you’ve written yourself, performed 100 times and polished the rough bits off so why would you then try and change the flow of your set in a different direction? Every good comedian takes their audience on a journey, journeys require a clear path from one destination to another so you need to make sure your audience is seeing how one bit is connecting to another. Feel free to jump around but if you can maintain a theme you’ll find it a lot easier to build energy.

3. CALLBACKS! – These are jokes that relate back to an earlier part of your set, using the same punchline twice for example. They are the best way to connect your material and displays a level of comedic professionalism. Callbacks show the audience that your set is well thought out and planned, it also comes across as an injoke between you and them which adds a level of humour and comfort.

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(Like an adult nappy)

4. Slow down – this is a big thing and for a lot of comics it’s the difference between being a professional and being an open spot. Obviously there are some comics who use speed as a comedic tool and that’s great but I have found that just taking a breath at the end of each piece and letting the audience find the laugh makes it flow better. Think about your material and pace it correctly, people tend to speed up when they’re nervous or full of adrenaline so just take a breath and relax into it.

5. Think of your performance – whether you’re a stand still behind the mic kind of comic or a lunging tshirt wearer your body language is as important to the show as the jokes themselves. In a 10 you might be able to get by without any movement whatsoever but in a 20 you want to engage all of the audience’s senses. Use the space you’re given (be it a massive theatre stage or a tiny foot square at the front of the pub) and explore it with your material. Again if it’s part of your style not to move then go with what works.

6. Mic use – You should have learned this in the time you’ve been performing your 10 but I have seen so many comics who are doing 20s that don’t know how to use a mic properly. Get it out of your mouth and keep it a consistent distance away from you unless you’re doing something specific. Also be aware that if you have it too close to you you’ll make popping noises everytime you pronounce a “P”.

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(plus hiphop has no place in your routine about your ugly sister)

7. Location specific references – In your 10 you’ve got to keep it very tight but in your 20 you’ve got a chance to explore some improvisation and some quick topical jokes, don’t do too much though. Do some research before the gig and if you find something you can make funny about the venue, town or audience then go for it. Not for the faint hearted.

8. Interact with the audience – I did say earlier not to pad out your set but in your 20 you’ll have a chance to explore some audience participation much more than you would in your 10. Don’t go crazy but it’s good to involve the audience, bring them into your jokes. One of the unique experiences of a live comedy night is the chance to see things no one will ever have seen before or ever see again. It’s a good chance to improve your improvisational skills.

9. Practice – As you’re only just getting into the 20s you’ll still mostly be getting 10 slots, break your slot in half if you can and practice at the slots you can get. A lot of comics think you can’t practice a 20 unless you actually have a 20 min slot, truth is you need the 20 mins before you can get the slot itself. Break down the jokes in your set and practice them as much as you can. Obviously callbacks won’t work like this but they’re not usually the linchpin of the set.

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(that’s what the cock jokes are for)

10. Apply for 20s – You’ll know when you’re ready to take the 20 you’ve been practising onto the road. Once you’re comfortable with it start applying for gigs you wouldn’t normally go for. Get a good video of you doing your best stuff and send it out to promoters who can offer you the spots you want. Big clubs aren’t what you’re looking for right now you want to focus on smaller gigs outside of the bigger cities where you can do a longer set but will still get a great reaction. It’s unlikely you’ll get paid for these however you should be asking for travel expenses as, even though your 20 isn’t yet perfect, you’re still a level up from standard open spots trying new material.

(You SHOULD be excited!)

Well that’s it those are my tips to take your 10 minute set up a level to a 20 minute set. I hope you find it helpful and it’d be great if you could share it with as many people as possible. Thanks again for all your feedback because without you I wouldn’t write these! Now go out there and do amazing things!

How to Not feel alone

I had a conversation this week with a fellow comedian while we were on a long drive to a gig. During the course of the conversation we came to the realisation that while we were both at different points in our careers we had exceedingly similar issues with regard to how we felt. It was a lovely open conversation with a good friend.

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(“…hahaha and then I shanked him in the shower” sharing is caring)

The next day out of the blue I got a message from another comic asking me if I had ever felt a bit out of sorts and if my confidence ever wavered. This was exactly what my conversation from the day before had been about and I realised that while we all put on this bravado and bluster we all pretty much have the same insecurities. The overriding theme was that while we were surrounded by people all doing similar things we felt pretty much alone as performers.

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(some out of choice and some because you’re dangerous to be around)

Obviously I can’t speak for everyone but I know a lot of us feel like this and I wanted to write a post that reassured people and helped with some of that neurosis.

Here’s an example. I often get good news with regards to my career, it could be a slot I wasn’t expecting to get at a well known club or an extremely well paid corporate for a big company or even just that an agent from a TV agency is coming to see me perform, and when I get that news I instantly want to share it with my friends. A large part of wanting to share it is to show everyone how great I’m doing and there’s nothing wrong with that, prior to my comedy career I wouldn’t have thought twice about posting up a status about a promotion at work or a bonus I’d be getting, but now I get this good news and I realise there’s no one I want to share it with. My friends are mostly comics like me, any good news for me is usually bad news for them, so calling someone and saying “This agent is coming to see me perform!” turns into an unpleasant conversation for them as they consider why they haven’t had an agent see them or why they didn’t get that gig or even just why is Chris calling me to tell me how great he’s doing?! What a dick! And I’m exactly the same when people call me.

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(Oh look at you doing so f*cking well! Oh oh oh look at me with my fresh food and holeless trainers, don’t we think we’re the smartest smarty pants ever. F*CK YOU! F*CK YOU IN YOUR WELL FED MOUTH!)

BUT that’s not really true. Most of that is to do with your own paranoia because we don’t openly talk about the negative side of ourselves in regards to the circuit. I just want to reassure you on a few points:

  1. I do start to hate my material after a while
  2. I do worry about how well I’m doing
  3. I do worry about what other comics think of me
  4. I do have a fragile ego
  5. I do work very hard to get the smallest of successes
  6. I do like to tell people I’m doing well and have them congratulate me
  7. I hate being criticised
  8. I sometimes feel like I’m not in control
  9. I do get jealous of other comedian’s success

All of those things are about me but I know for a fact that a lot of other comics feel exactly the same and I know that the biggest catalyst for feeling all of those things is because we feel like we’re alone working against the rest of the people we know.

I’m here to tell you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We’re human beings, we all feel like that and that’s ok. We’re supposed to. All of those things make you a good comedian, a great person and a hard working individual. It’s not going to change overnight but I’m going to start being more open about these things and you should too.

Let’s start now. I want everyone to get in touch with me at christpurchase@gmail.com and tell me how great they’re doing. I want to hear every success story and every win, not just in your career but in your life. I want to hear about it and I want to have a conversation about it. Let’s end this year by telling each other how great we are and feeling good about it.

Let’s change everything.

How to Progress

This is the article I’ve had the most requests for and it’s also the article I’ve been the most reticent to write. People always want to know the fast way to do something, they want to know the shortcuts you took and how they can get there too and there isn’t one. Also I’m not at the peak of my career right now, I’m doing incredibly well and I’m living off of my comedy but I’ve still got a long way to go. What I decided with this article is that it’s going to be a basic guide on how to get your career moving in the right direction.

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(Dammit I said right direction!)

I know this is going to get a lot of comeback but who cares? We do comedy! Any feedback is good feedback. Also some of this has been covered across a couple of different articles but gathering it together here gives people a single place to reference.

1. Do everything you can – Now by this I don’t mean “do hundreds of free open spots in tiny pubs to no audience” I mean when someone says “do you want to do a podcast about this funny thing” you say yes, when someone says “do you want to be involved in a wrestling/football match with other comedians” you say yes. Do you want to film a pilot we’re pitching to the BBC, YES YES YES. Why do you want to do this stuff? Because a. There will be other people involved who will see you and say “this is a guy who likes to get involved” and then tell other people about all the involving you do and how good you were with the involving. b. Those other people will be promoting the hell out of this project as much as you are so you are significantly increasing your reach and c. You’ll have an incredible experience to talk about on stage at some point.

2. Keep writing – The best comedians write constantly. They don’t necessarily carry a pad and paper around with them and scribble furiously but they are coming up with concepts and dedicating a time of the day to noting them all down. You’ll have jokes that are funny and you perform all the time and then you’ll have these other jokes that sit in a cloud of material and you’re developing gradually. By taking the time every day to sit down and write something you’re adding to this cloud and bit by bit building a better set. Promoters will be able to book you more regularly if you’re turning over material at a higher rate.

3. Keep track of your contacts – Have a spreadsheet and put all of the people on it who could possibly give you a gig. Put as much detail on there as possible then write notes as to what type of gigs they could get you. The more detailed the spreadsheet the better then email them every 3 months with a different email asking for work. You need to stay fresh in promoters minds and someone else will jump in, if you email them too often though you become part of the white noise in their inbox and if you send the same text everytime you’ll automatically get added to spam filters so you need to vary it. The biggest problem most inexperienced comics face is not remembering to keep in touch.

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(Ah hi Grandma is this a good time?)

4. Be a chancer – I don’t care what you’ve read or heard every single decent comedian is a chancer and the people who ask you not to be are either stupid or lazy. You need to ask to do spots above your current level otherwise how are you ever going to progress? Don’t be ridiculous about it, I’ve said before you need to have a realistic understanding of how you compare to other acts, but then don’t be afraid to occasionally go for a spot you’d normally think was for more experienced comics. I’ve gone for some absolutely crazy spots and got them just because I was the specific type of act they were looking for or they’d heard great things about me from someone else but never got in touch. I like to think of this more as taking opportunities rather than chancing.

5. Contact agencies/promoters on a higher level and invite them to come see you – It’s hard to get spots on shows you don’t already do, it’s especially hard if no one has heard you outside of the M25, so how do you get on a show without getting on the show. You invite the promoter to see you live. Contact promoters and give them dates where they can see you live and nearby to where their base of operations is. 9 out of 10 times you’ll get nothing back but all you need is one of these guys to come see you, book you for their night and then recommend you to other industry types. This is easily the best way to get better high level gigs.

6.  Ask for money – We get it, you love performing! You just want the admiration of fans! Admiration is great but you can’t eat it and you can’t walk around dressed in it, sooner or later you’ll need real money. There’s a horrible trend on the circuit to do gigs for free. It’s madness when you think about it, you don’t get builders to build you a trial wall and you don’t get plumbers installing a single tap then getting them back to finish the bathroom in a couple of months if you’re happy with the job. Why should you work for free? Working for free gives promoters the impression that you value yourself at absolutely nothing and if you think you’re worth nothing why should they think you’re worth anything? Even when doing a tryout spot you should ask for travel money, you’re still going to be providing them with your work even if it is only so you can work for them. A comedian who asks for money is more likely to get paid work.

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(You’ll either get paid work or sold to a funeral directors as a slave, either way it’s up and out for you!)

7. Promote yourself as a brand – You have to stop thinking of yourself as a person and start thinking of yourself as a brand. Tell people you’re a comedian. Update your facebook and twitter with the things you’re doing and how well they’re going. Hand out business cards with the title “Comedian” under your name. Be excited about the fact that you get to be involved with one of the last true art forms. Stop worrying about saying how great you are because really no one else is going to do it. Kill all of the modesty you had before and just let people know how proud you are of what you’re doing. If you’re not excited about it why should anyone else be?

8. Ignore bitterness – You will get a lot of this. In the comedy world bitterness is like oxygen for comedians who aren’t doing as well as they think they should be. They’ll bitch about you behind your back, they’ll criticise you to your face and they’ll tell promoters you’re rubbish. All because you’re on the way up and they’re on the way down. Ignore them. If they talk to you directly smother them with kindness and positivity. Be above it and beyond it. No one ever succeeded in comedy by doing exactly the same as someone else so any criticism that isn’t constructive should just be discarded. I don’t care if it comes from one of your comedy heroes because at some point they were in exactly the same place as you facing exactly the same problems and adversity, they’ve just forgotten because it’s easier to break someone down than it is to identify your own faults and correct them. Stay strong.

9. Work hard – This is the very key to progressing. You need to gig as much as you can and when you’re not gigging you need to be contacting promoters about getting gigs. If you’re not contacting promoters you need to be promoting yourself. If you’re not promoting yourself you need to be writing. If you’re not writing you need to be doing something else, a podcast, a radio show, writing topical one liners on twitter, standing in the street giving out jokes to passers by, anything just to get some attention. If you think you’re working hard you’re only halfway there. You need to be sick of comedy by the end of the day. If you can do two or three gigs in a night do it. Work your ass off. You’d be amazed how lucky you are when you work hard.

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(Lucky? Nah I’m just short and prolific)

10. Don’t expect to be an overnight success – Comedy is a long apprenticeship. You need to realise that it’ll take years before you can expect to earn a living from it and years more to get any kind of notoriety. It’s not going to happen overnight. Even the youngest comics spent 4-5 years gigging all over the country before getting their break. Once you realise that it actually becomes a lot easier to recognise your successes. Also there is no such thing as a lucky break it’s all just time and hard work.

So there you have it! My top ten tips for new comics to progress.

Thanks for reading it and now you’ve read it share it with everyone you know! Tweet it, facebook it, reblog it, Google+ the other person you know on it, myspace it so the admins have something to read just let everyone see it. I want these articles to get to as many people as possible, I mean 1500+ is great but I’d love to see all of you doing more and more because of them.

Once again thank you for all of your lovely feedback and article requests, I’ll get round to as many as I can as soon as possible!

How to Corporate

Here’s a “how to” I’ve been umming and arring over (like a tone deaf pirate) for a while. Corporate gigs are an excellent way to earn money for good comedians however they’re not to be taken lightly. This is the very part of comedy where it meets the business world and it can be tough.

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(It’s much easier with interpretive dance, this guy is explaining this year’s profits in relation to the economy)

I would recommend getting a couple of years under your belt before you even attempt a corporate gig, just so your confidence level is at the highest it can be plus you have a large stock of material to fall back on. IF you’re thinking about jumping right into it then here’s my top ten things to do when doing a corporate:

1.React to your client – You are going to be working directly for someone which is very different to your average comedy gig. You can normally get up in front of the audience and talk about whatever you want but with corporate gigs you have to follow a brief from your client. They might want you to do more MCing than actual material, they may want you to constantly reference specific staff in their company or they may not want you to talk about the current economic climate as they are directly responsible for the terrible state it’s in and you’re there to stop the majority of their middle management from committing suicide. Whatever it is that they ask for you need to be ready to accommodate them.

2. Take direction but take control – As above you need to make sure you’re accommodating your client however they are not comedy promoters nor are they comedians themselves. You’re probably going to be either the host or the main entertainment for the event so don’t be afraid to give advice on how it should go. A talk about banking followed by an hour long story on how a friend died from a terminal illness then ten minutes of comedy finished up with another story of personal tragedy with no breaks is going to result in the event being a bust. If you step in and help the organisers make the event run smoothly you’re going to look a lot more professional.

3. Stay positive – Whatever happens through the event you need to stay positive. You may be shaking like Michael J Fox’s home videos but to them you need to appear calm and at ease. They’ve hired you because they want their event to go perfectly so telling them you’re nervous or that you’re worried about performing isn’t going to fill them with confidence and may end up with them asking you not to go on. Your job is to make people happy so do that, they’ll be looking to you to reassure them that they’re spending their money wisely. In this way you’re like an investment banker but with more morals and less blood sacrifices to false gods.

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(Yes put all your money into rubber animal heads, no it’s the internet they fucking love a rubber animal head)

4. Dress appropriately – Yep this again. If it’s a black tie event dress in black tie, if it’s a casual event dress casual. You need to do everything you can to ingratiate yourself with the crowd as unless you’re Michael Mcintyre they’re going to be unsure of you. Obviously if you’re a character act or have a costume this isn’t that relevant.

5. Don’t discuss payment at the event – Really with corporates it’s often the case that you’ll have been paid prior to arriving, this is quite common, however sometimes you’ll get your money afterwards or even on the night (rarely). You must not talk about money on the night. It needs to be all tied up prior to you arriving. Before you even set off to the event you need to know how much and when you’re going to be paid and it needs to be set in stone. What you don’t want is to be talking about it to the organisers at the event as it’ll look like you’re disorganised and amateur.

6. Be early – This isn’t an open mic night in central London, chances are this is a fairly large company and you’ll be their sole entertainment. You need to be there at least 40 minutes before you’re due to go on but I’d recommend getting their when they’re setting up so you can run through a sound check. You’re not going to be able to ask for specific lighting or sound requirements when the event is in full flow.

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(So I’m going to be sharing the stage with two pigs and I have to scream “Ride the lightning!” every time one of them oinks? Can I at least get a microphone?)

7. Make friends – You’re a comedian! Making people like you is what you do! So do it! This is a corporate event and a lot of the people you’ll be performing to will have a say in who the company books for events. You need to make sure you get business cards and come across as a lovely person to work with (I mean do this all the time but especially now) so that when someone asks “who shall we pay £2000 to host our Christmas party?” the resounding response is you. Also they are people in business who will know other people in business, you want them to be recommending you to their businessy friends.

8. Be the energy – In this situation more so than any other you need to be the energy in the room. Think of the event as this giant machine and you’re the battery, you want to put as much into it as you can so you get the most back. The thing to remember is that they’re not at a comedy night they’re at an event put on by a company so they will probably need a lot more encouragement to get on board. A good idea is to do some crowd work to break some boundaries, get them shaking each other’s hands or making silly animal noises, just so they’re a bit more comfortable laughing at you.

9. Write and use bespoke material – I can not stress this enough. When doing corporate work you should write jokes about the industry, the company/companies are in or about the company/organisation itself. It’s great if you can get information on specific people and work with that. Don’t ever be nasty but little in jokes that everyone can get on board with are fantastic. Material you’ve written specifically for the event will come across as you being incredibly professional AND will go down better than most of your usual set.

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(That went down like the hooker you buried in the desert! “Oh James he’s got you there! This guy is amazing!”)

10. Know your contact – Over the course of being booked for, planning and running the event there are going to be a lot of different people involved. You need to be very clear on who you are taking your orders from. In every company there are a hundred people who think they’re in charge and one person who actually makes the decisions, make sure you know exactly who it is you’ll be answering to. If David the Finance Manager asks you to do jokes about Deidre’s divorce and you find out Deidre is the woman who’s organising the event afterwards you’ll never work for them or anyone they know ever again. Tell the jokes about David vomiting on Deidre at the Christmas Party and suddenly you’re the greatest comedian in the Western Hemisphere.

So there you have it my top ten tips for doing well at a corporate gig. I hope you’ve found these useful and if you have any feedback I look forward to hearing from you.

You can find me on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/chrispurchaselaughs