||SHECKYmagazine.com HOME||BACK to the Columnist INDEX||ARCHIVE||
It's 2000. The year, that is. ("2000" just doesn't sound like a year...it sounds more like a price!) It's 2000 and I would like to take this opportunity to suggest some resolutions for others. How novel! I want to make resolutions for the entire comedy business. I'm feeling expansive. After all, it's not just another year we're dealing with here, it's another year, another decade, another century (sort of...but I don't wanna get into that right now). Perhaps I'll merely suggest some resolutions, so as not to appear overbearing.
So, here I go, suggesting resolutions for the entire comedy industry.
Resolve that you will start behaving like a business and stop acting like a charity.
On a recent jaunt through Florida, we espied a bumper sticker that read "Support live comedy, go to the Comedy House Theater." How pathetic does that sound? "SUPPORT" live comedy? Bumper stickers like this one serve only to engender sympathy, not enthusiasm. If you use words like "support," folks will think you NEED support! Words like that shouldn't even be part of the vocabulary of someone running a legitimate business. I hear that and it gives me the same creepy feeling as when I listen to NPR during a pledge drive!
When we started SHECKY!, we sent out press releases stating that it was "...dedicated to the glorification of standup comedy." Of course, we were exaggerating a bit. But our message was that we were tired of what was going on--which was often the exact opposite of glorification. People were denigrating the business and the practice of standup at every turn. And our other message was that it was time for us (and others in the business) to start thinking and speaking about standup in a more positive and dynamic way. Off the record, we thought of SHECKY! as the Milk Marketing Board of comedy, an organization that sang the praises of the product (in this case, live standup), and encouraged its regular consumption. You can see how a bumper sticker that uses the word "support" might rankle us a little.
Resolve that we'll finally enter the 20th Century and GET ONLINE!
We just attended a party in Atlanta last week that was packed with industry types from all over the southeast U.S. I was gratified by the number of people who professed to be SHECKY! fans, but I was horrified by how many folks confessed that they weren't online yet! Get with it! Get online, people! E-mail's been around a few years now! A used, pentium-based desktop will set you back about $450! Juno's free! No excuses!
I know what you're saying: I only want to encourage people to get online so SHECKY! will have more subscribers. This is true. However, there is an additional advantage to the business of standup if more of us are wired: Information will flow freely. If info flows freely, the business grows faster and larger.
E-mail has been a boon to comic and booker, agent and manager, comedy fan and club owner. And the web site can function as an electronic press kit, an advertisement for a venue or a source of general information.
Curiously, one of the utilities with the most potential, the newsgroup, has proven to be the least fully realized. There is only one NG that is frequented by comics and the vast majority of the posts on it are ultimately pointless. It's hard to describe how frustrating it is to plod through the various posts. Useful information must be sifted out like precious nuggets. The amount of time invested is usually out of proportion to the usefulness of the information gained.
Resolve that we'll all start acting like adults.
One of the highlights of the last ten months was a visit to The Friars Club in Los Angeles. We were there for the West Coast premiere of a documentary about the Friars. I watched one comic after another on the screen talk with intensity, with respect and with pride about standup comedy. And they were all very aware of the special talent they had and they were all very thankful that they were in such an interesting business. This kind of attitude is rare among anyone who still has his original hips. What the hell is wrong with the rest of us?
The time has come to start appreciating the fact that we are comics. I appreciated it. Then 1992 came. The business skidded off the end of the runway. By the time 1996 came around, I appreciated it even more. Why? Because I witnessed a good thing nearly disappear. When it reappeared, I vowed that I would never take it for granted.
The next time you're working at the Punchline in Atlanta, take a look at the crap written on the walls of the little room that the comics occupy before they go onstage. There you'll see the ancient (circa 1993?) scrawlings of comics badly in need of perspective--lots of complaining, lots of pissing and moaning about stolen material, lots of talk of surly crowds--generally depressing. (Especially mystifying when you consider that the Punchline in Atlanta has always been [and remains to this day] one of the three top clubs in the country from a performer's standpoint.) But I think that it's all attributable to a bad attitude--and a lack of perspective--among comics who never knew a time when standup was king...and they never knew how far it had tumbled.
Resolve to enjoy ourselves and have a good and successful year, decade, life.
Share the info, be positive, enjoy the ride! Have a great 2000!