Comics and speakers have a real problem with the different demands of self-promoting.
We have to enter the experience with an entirely different mind-set than performing before a live audience where we control the event.
else will act as filter while we try to prove we are great . . . without
seeming to push it to the point of nausea.
Much depends on how we handle the event. Careers are made or lost on that throw of the dice known as "the interview
You are the interviewee.
So you can see it from the interviewer's side, please read TV Guide, 8/28/93,
where David Letterman cautions:
always tell when a guest is going to be a
disaster . . . when our producers do the pre-interview that
afternoon, and the person says, 'Just tell Dave he can ask me
anything he wants.' Well, that ain't the way it works, kids!
". . . Whether you're
a comedian, or an actor, or an author,
you're being given seven or eight minutes of network time to come
out with your sample case, open it up, and show people why they
ought to buy your new miracle sponge. We expect you to come out,
"I'm always amazed
at how few people understood that, and did it.
. . . Steve Martin. Bill Murray. Both these guys always try
something new, different, and rewarding. . . . Even someone like
Tom Brokaw. . . . He understood: 'I'm demonstrating that I'm a
reasonable, engaging, entertaining person,' which he is. Still,
it's stunning to me how many people have taken huge chunks of money
out of the show-business mother lode and don't understand
". . . It's not an homage. . . . You're there to show people
why they oughta spend seven-and-a-half bucks for your new
move, or watch your show on TV. Even I did it: When I'd go on
The Tonight Show, I'd spend weeks writing anecdotes, working
on stories. It's not easy. And it's not fun. But it's what is
important. You owe it to the people watching."
To take the pressure off,
(ROD SERLING "Twilight Zone" voice): "I submit for your consideration, a fictitious beginning comic's first interview that succeeds in spite of his ignorance;" i.e.,
with Joey Joke's minimal preparation can do good. And from the
If you're stumped
for a character, you can use the Joey Joke persona. Even if your name is
Janice Joke. Why not: it's legal.
Look at it this way: even if you get crucified, no one will know it's you hanging from the cross.
tradition: when my student and client David
Feldman was starting out, he
loved to play pranks on the establishment. He did this even before
he decided to become a professional comic. In college, the
school's president had suggested saving dollars by doubling up the
students in dormitory rooms.
The only problem was that the rooms
were the size of broom closets, barely enough room for one student
to sleep in them -- let alone two students. The campus activists
were enraged, and it rapidly became a big "issue".
wrote a letter to the school paper, urging students to "support our
President in his hour of need!"
Activists responded by phoning the
school paper and urging the editor not to run any more of Feldman's
letters because, "that Feldman is just an asshole!"
Encouraged, and bi-partisan, Feldman began calling up radio
stations interviewing right-wing extremists.
Feldman would take
a pretend position to the extreme right of the right-winger, and then
push it for all it was worth until the DJ became suspicious.
(now a comedy headliner) became a favorite on San
Francisco's "Alex Bennett Show," Monday-Friday 6-10 am, radio show
Feldman is also
the only performer to appear on the
short-lived "Dennis Miller Show" (syndicated TV) and blow Miller's
mind over-and-over again. Usually, it was the other way around. Feldman joined
the writing staff of HBO's "Dennis Miller Show", and has won
TV Emmys for that job since 1995. In January, 1998, while still continuing
on the writing staff, Feldman became the show's co-producer.
Old Jokes Switched for Radio
tradition continues: as
we can hear on this audio clip, on March 3, 1993, I called radio station KSRO
in Santa Rosa,
pretending to be a nervous wannabe comic, a character I named "Joey Joke." And
I managed to get a few very ancient
jokes on the air. This should never have happened. DJ's are usually
very alert to such cons, as we will hear on the audio clip. How did "Joey" get
away with this hoax?
I used the following
switched old jokes for this radio
My total prep time was under an hour.
Since I had never told any of
these jokes before, I did not rely on my memory.
Instead, I just kept this typed
up joke sheet in front of me.
So, no matter what the DJ said to distract Joey
Jim Richardson would still get the wording exact.
Just by reading.
eyes never left the page throughout the interview.
Note that the punch
word for each joke is boldfaced.
Read these lame jokes
over quickly, then play the audio clip and read along to see how Joey sneaks
each joke past the DJ's very paranoid, very distracting banter:
Des R Da Jokes
Is the Real Dan Quayle presidential material, or just another
deer caught in the headlights?
My girlfriend complains all the time about not being wanted.
So, where'd I put her picture up? In the post office!
I think the President is going to solve the budget deficit
because he's so tight with his own money. He never gave Ginnefer
Flowers a present. He figured it was good enough just giving her
[DJ's name:_____________], have you tried calling Washington
on one of President Clinton's 800 numbers? Can't get through.
Bill keeps telling his secretary, "You must answer the phone
when it rings."
She always goes, "Why?
Most of the time it's for you!"
Rush Limbaugh got a hernia trying to raise his consciousness.
Your allergist is unethical if the only thing he keeps in his
desk is a dead cat.
It's a cold day in Washington when Bill Clinton has his hands
in his own pockets.
It's time we stopped
attacking Dr. Kevorkian. We seem to
forget that he once operated on a tone-deaf man; in two days, the
guy was playing a harp!
To Jim's surprise, the DJ actually asked Joey Joke to call
the DJ's weekly Sunday entertainment hour again the following week.
This is the ultimate compliment a host can pay to a guest, and he is
usually sincere! So, Joey Joke's one-and-only radio interview met
Using a mock-character gave Jim permission to tell open-micer
jokes taken from Milton Berle's Private Joke File and other joke
books. After all, Joey
Joke is the archetypal open-micer, guilt-ridden by his lack of originality--
insecure despite his
braggadocio and forced charm. Jim was just focusing on the problem
of the call-in guest spots, and not worrying about defending himself,
his actual original jokes (not using any of them this time out!),
or Jim's actual stage persona. Jim merely functioned as a lawyer or
puppeteer for his client/puppet "Joey Joke." As we will hear on the audio clip,
Joey was very nervous. His puppeteer (me) was relaxed!
Did you have to listen to the Joey Joke audio clip a few times to catch all these subtle points? Joey's act flies past fast. The DJ allows Joey to speak just one minute of air time inside this 2 minute clip. Guess what? If you have never done a media interview before, it is now time for you to immediately jump in at the deep end of the pool. You have one hour to follow Joey's lead. OK. Be generous with yourself. Take:
One hour to type up ten jokes. Don't even think of trying to memorize them, no matter how many hundreds of times you've told them both on and off stage.
Then, take one
more hour to get on the air. How? Google! And/or open a phone book to
the Yellow Page advertisements under Radio/TV Stations, and start
making telephone calls.
Be on your toes: someone may be answering the phone at a small, one-person radio station. Yes, that DJ might just throw you on-the-air without any warning whatsoever. In comedy, as in real life: always expect the unexpected!