I Hope They Believe the Hype

After a show in Chattanooga.

A big deal now in business is using Social Media to market your product.  It’s the perfect thing for the bottom line because it’s FREE.  There are plenty of social media experts out there promoting how they can help some business with their expertise on Twitter.  It generally seems like a racket to me.  My wife works for a small marketing company and I gave them advice on the subject because I’m the only person they know who uses Facebook and Twitter all the time.  My response was they should create a page on each just so they don’t come off like they aren’t hip, but I wouldn’t say it would do much for you.  Unless you are a retail company who can push coupons at people that way, I don’t see where these things are going to do a lot for you.

I’m not a Dane Cook hater.  I always thought Dane was funny and I was knocked out by his stage presence.  The problem I had was with him selling out arena’s. He wasn’t one of the 25 best comics on the planet, but he was drawing more than the 25 comics all at once.  (Btw, hey big-city hipsters, he wasn’t selling out many arenas in the Midwest, it was happening in places like Boston and NYC.) I always had a bigger problem with the open mikers who would rip him, even though they had never produced anywhere close to the comedy Dane had.  What really made me laugh was these same comics who said he was the Devil, would follow the template of his social media genius to a tee.  Myspace made Dane Cook a superstar and on some levels it was the end of his creative peak.  From what I know about Dane is that he was always a hard worker. I don’t know this for sure but my guess is the day that he started spending all his time adding new friends to Myspace instead of sitting and writing comedy was the day he started going downhill artistically.  Don’t get me wrong, Myspace made him a phenomenon.  It got him a hosting gig on SNL (which I thought he did a really good job on.)  It enabled him to sit in a meeting with movie people and point to the potential fans his films would bring in opening week.  And it made him impossibly rich (until his step brother stole it all from him.)

The problem was the results.  Myspace’s peak seemed to be tied at the hip with Dane Cook.  I mean look at both of them now.  They were more style than substance during their peak.  I actually think Dane’s a pretty decent actor, not a leading man, but a good secondary character.  He just wasn’t good enough to open a below-average movie. Very few people are able to do it.  I don’t care how many people follow you, if you don’t produce, the word gets out. Now Myspace isn’t even a good secondary character anymore.  It’s time is over. I always thought that a big reason myspace died out was comedians and bands were constantly bothering people that had never heard of them to show up to their shows and take their friends request. With a 5000 friend limit, Facebook didn’t allow for this type of bombardment.

So we move on to today’s social media.  Unlike myspace, through their formats, Facebook and Twitter promote the idea of writing jokes for status reports. In my comedy class I really promote using Twitter to write jokes on, as the 140 characters it allows you to use forces you to cut all the fluff out. It doesn’t work all the time, but it’s a great place to try it out.

I put more stuff up on Facebook because I have way more followers there.  Here’s a not so big secret.  Most people that will follow you on Twitter are either hipsters or other comics.  Unless you are a celebrity type comic (there are not that many), it’s going to be hard to get that many people to follow you.  I would suggest that social media for comics is really about telling other peers what you are doing.  It’s kind of a big circle jerk for standup. The biggest plus I’ve seen come from it is that I can tell better who are the posers and who are really creative people. There are some newer comics that I’ve been on the fence about from watching their sets, but from seeing some consistently funny posts they rise in my book.  Use Facebook (and Twitter) to put up new material.  For the first 17 years of my career I had to wait until I got onstage to see if a joke was going to fly.  Not so now that we have social media.  This is my favorite part of it.  I can post a new joke and through feedback can get a better idea if the joke has some legs or not.

So social media sites can help you with being more creative, but if you think it’s going to give you tons of new fans just by getting people to accept your friends request, that ship has sailed. Social media plays a small part in building your audience, but the biggest part is just being really funny and really selling the material onstage.  That’s one of the great things about standup.  Style counts, but substance usually wins out in the long run.

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