What are some misconceptions about standup that you’d like to clear up?
Stand up comedians are very driven people. Our focus from the time we wake up is to get on stage. You won’t meet too many people in this world that are dying to get to their job. I know that hanging out in the clubs during the early 90′s and bouncing around with my friends that all wanted to make it in this business were some of the greatest times of my career. We would talk about ideas and scenarios we wanted to find ourselves in. Comedians have something to say. It may not always be some deep political statement. It could be a simple observation but if it equals you laughing then we have done our job. To make it look easy takes time and dedication equal to a doctor going to med school to learn how to operate successfully.
I often hear people say, “I want to move to LA to do comedy.” When do you think that someone should make such a move, if they should make such a move at all?
Stay out of LA if you want to be a comic. It’s hard to grow here. I tell new guys in LA to maybe go east for a while since there are a lot of colleges and more stage time. Go somewhere you can just write and perform. You will know when the time is right to pack your bags and go. It is when no other comedians want to follow you because you are batting 500.
What are some recent trends in comedy that you’d like to comment on?
Today’s comedians need to raise their level of business savvy. They need to have more than just a strong act. They need a strong company and a solid team of people around them. We live in a new world of media. I’ve used the Internet as both a fan community and a means to spread my style of comedy across the globe. Myspace is a place where a comedian can post blogs and reach hundreds of thousands of people within weeks by spending the time to chat and instant message people.
If a comedian in this day and age thinks their act alone is going to put them on the map, they are in for a rude awakening. Today’s performer needs to play the hustle game like never before. It is too easy for today’s “viewer” to click the channel and find another source of entertainment. And that is what it all boils down to: entertaining people. If you are not in this to promote and put on a show, then ask yourself what are you really doing this for? If it’s because you were never picked for basketball in 5th grade, then get into some therapy because stand up ain’t gonna heal that wound. There are too many suits above you controlling the money to just sail through. You need to be able to wear that suit, produce, and call the shots. Know when to say no and know when to fight tooth and nail for your creative vision.
A performer that isn’t ambivalent about doing the work I’m talking about is just wasting their time. It’s about promoting to a core audience that you speak to. If that is on a larger level, then you are going to be able to create more markets to perform in like TV, film, and live events.
I’ve been talking to more and more comedians about how to reach people with performances, ideas, and situations where there is a financial gain for a comedian’s family (or nest egg) and a great fucking time doing what we do. Everyone wins in that forum.
I’m not saying one can’t be ONLY a comedian in 2006, but I am saying the way to stay viable is to offer up many sources of creativity that ultimately your fans will enjoy. I only put myself into things that get me pumped creatively and my fans know and appreciate that.
Other than being humorous, what do you think is an important quality that a person interested in being a standup comedian should posses?
You have to play video games. Quake Arena saved my life for an entire year that my phone did not ring. Get really good at video games and stop grabbin’ on yourself so much. Keep that nut because it gives you more energy and determination. All day long you think, “I have to get better at comedy. Sharper. Stronger with the character. More honest with my crowd. That way I can make it and get laid by some hot A list actress.” It’s part of the drive!
How do you feel about your albums being available on file sharing programs?
It’s ONE part of a bigger pie. Yes you can download my jokes or CD for free. But you can’t download the feeling of being in a room with hundreds of strangers sharing laughs and once in a lifetime moments… But I hear Napster is working on that.
Visit Danecook.com to learn more about Dane’s work.