It is very easy for a comic - or anyone I guess - to get bogged down in hate and cynicism.
I am guilty of that most hours of the day. It has nothing to do with money or career or all the other trivia. While some of my bitterness could be attributed to excessive drink, it is mostly rooted in the idiocy that surrounds me and the shit people will accept as good or correct or real, etc, without any question whatsoever.
Regardless, it is still hate and whatever angst I can't immediately turn into comedy proceeds to ruin my daily life. So I try to limit my exposure to it, recognize it for what it is and move on.
Try something new. Travel someplace I've never been. Try food I've never tasted. Listen to music I've never heard. And hate all of it.
It's important - especially in my business - to have a very deep well of hatred.
One thing though that I've hated since even my youngest,hope-filled days as a comic - worse than bad comedy, hack comedy or even joke thieves - are people who teach stand-up comedy classes.
Keep in mind that before I started comedy, most of my young adult life was spent working in low-level fraud - from toner scams and ad-specs to inventor/patent hoaxes. But comedy classes fall into that gray area of deceit - like Jesus or psychics or chakra healing - where you can't prove that it's a con.
Say what you will about any Carlos Mencia, Dane Cook or Jeff Dunham but I would lay Rubenesque on my side, chin cupped in my limp hand blowing the lot of them before I would say one positive thing about anyone who steals money by teaching a comedy class.
They are all 100 percent bullshit. It wouldn't matter if it were Pryor, Carlin and Mark Twain at the podium at the Holiday Inn banquet room, it would be them ripping you off.
Usually it works out that the folk who teach this shit never did any comedy on any actual paid level and act like fly strips for those whose dreams outweigh any innate skepticism. Maybe the person bullshits a community college into letting them conduct a course or puts an ad in the weekly to siphon a few suckers out of the woodwork.
These people are loathsome enough but don't create much damage.
Then there are people equally as worthless but with better "marketing" skills that can make a career out of it.
See Judy Carter.
She's been grifting would-be comics since before I learned how to do stand-up myself (the only possible way to learn comedy.) J.C. had the audacity to write a book called the Comedy Bible with no more qualifications as the guy at the VFW hall who re-words old Polish jokes into Iraqi jokes or whatever the unpopular country of the day may be.
Somehow she made a living out of it as opposed to settling for the beer money that others are content with but her success makes her no more legitimate than a snake-oil salesman's success makes his tincture actually cure whooping cough.
Then you have the worst breed yet - the industry guy who has NEVER done comedy teaching you from an "Insider's Perspective." This is someone who used to be an agent or casting director or some other "behind the scenes" guy claiming to have secret knowledge of what the big-wigs in television are looking for.
I'll tell you exactly what they are looking for - people who are getting the most attention from other industry. They wander like blind coyotes in packs and jump on whatever seems to be creating the most noise. They have no insight and scramble around whatever apple is the shiniest like cartoon drunks in a scrum around Mardi Gras titties.
Somewhere around 1998 there was a comic named Michael "Chicken" Roof who played the Montreal Fest and - so far as I know was the last comic to get a big development deal there. I think he is the reason why Montreal is just a cheap knock-off of it's former self.
Chicken's act made Dane Cook look like Lenny Bruce. Dane Cook has the courtesy of proposing a reason to gesticulate. Chicken had bits as simple as saying "Dont you hate dance clubs" before hitting some heavy dance music and dry-humping a guy in the front row.
That's the whole bit.
Zero joke, zero punchline, crowd goes fucking fall-down bananas. Blind coyotes rear up from their mango-tinis and throw half-million dollar offers based on 6 minutes of this shit. Agent takes an offer, cancels the rest of Chicken's show at the Fest lest they see through the veneer and second-guess it all.
Chicken rides out on the shoulders of idiots, goes nowhere and eventually kills himself.
Am I saying that Industry killed Chicken? No, I'm insinuating it. There's a difference.
And now Industry is teaching classes to "Step Up Your Stand Up."
See Jeff Singer.
He is the newest and maybe the worst in that he has actual credits that sound very good unless you know what they entail - being a manager and a producer in Hollywood is something any used car salesman could do and just because you've produced comedy doesn't mean you have skill to even critique it much less sell yourself as a coach.
Jeff Singer is most shameful doing this because he is also the talent guy for the Montreal Comedy Festival, the iron pyrite gold ring for up-n-coming comics. Singer isn't just dangling a carrot in front of you with his sham comedy workshop, he's flopping it out of his pants and rubbing it on your lips while you cry on the couch.
Industry people might have their names appear in the credit-scroll on a lot of shows but I guarantee you that 999 out of a 1000 times, if the show was funny it was because the talent fought hard enough to stop the Industry fuck from ruining it with his "insider knowledge." You might as well get financial advice from the brick-layer who built the bank.
But worse yet...
...now there is a plague called Kyle Cease who has either bribed, bullshitted or butt-fucked his way into making Louie Anderson a de facto partner with him in the biggest Comedy Hucksterism that I have seen in 20 years called "Stand Up Boot Camp."
I really don't like to say bad shit about other comedians. It sucks when people say bad shit about you - it does to me - and I wish I'd taken a higher road on a lot of occasions. So in defense of Kyle Cease, I will admit that I don't know if he is purposely pick-pocketing the weak or if he is simply a person with delusions of mediocrity.
Either way, Stand Up Boot Camp is without question a complete waste of time, money and probably more damaging to your chances of being a successful comedian than cutting out your own tongue. Unless it's worth hundreds or thousands of dollars to have a guy you've never heard of introduce you to Louie Anderson and then blow toxic fumes up your ass for an afternoon.
Comedy Defensive Driving will do you as much good but I wouldn't tell you that a DUI will help you become a stand-up comic.
I was once in my early years of comedy and semi-popular in the ranks of the open mics in Phoenix when a comic higher-up in the ranks - Joey Scazzola - caught me giving advice to a new guy.
He said "Never give anyone advice because you're only telling them how to be more like you." Every time I've erred and given someone advice, I remembered that.
If you want advice, you most likely just want someone to reassure you of what you already know. If they tell you otherwise, you'll either discount it or you'll take their advice and no longer be following the instincts that got you in this to begin with. So either way, you didn't need the advice.
But if you really want the advice anyway, you can get it very easily for free without going far out of your way. If there's one thing that you never have to pay for, it's some other jerk-offs opinion.
You'll get the same advice from the comic at the bar after a gig in your local comedy club or on any comedian's forum or any stand-up comedian message board, etc etc. And it will be free and worth just as much.
This is where Kyle Cease goes from confidence man to megalomaniac. He sells this shit no differently than religion - let's say Scientology to give a more telling analogy. It's simply about you BELIEVING in yourself in his eyes.
Really? I could give you 1,000 examples of people who DON'T believe in themselves and are great because of it but I'll stop at Dave Attell. I have never met anyone more down on themselves than Attell - hates himself every step of the way, second-guesses every joke, every set and goes home feeling like shit about his act every night.
Oh, and he's one of best comedians of our entire generation either in spite of it or more likely because of it.
Where's that in your class, Kyle Cease? Do you even consider shit like that, you fucking orphan-snatching Fagin?
The simple math is that it is highly unlikely that you ever make a living at stand-up, no matter how rosy your outlook is or how much you believe in your inner-worth.
That would be almost the same as me telling you that you can win at roulette if you just keep repeating "I think I can, I think I can, I know I can, I know I can..." and on n on.
Even if he honestly thinks he's doing a good thing because of the smiling faces of false hope that walk out of the Aw Shucks Comedy Mall into the early evening air, he won't be around when all those dreams turn into shit and you are blaming everybody but him down the road.
Let's go over some of the garbage from his website regarding his Stand-up Mastery 5 day class, ignoring how much just the idea of him saying that you can master stand-up in 5 days makes me want to kill his innocent family in front of him on Day 2. Make that funny, you slice of shit cancer.
Remember - this is 60 hours in 5 days - that means 12 hour days if you don't wanna do the math like I didn't.
Day 1. He tells you that you'll meet stars, headliners, agents and managers all at the "legendary" Comedy Store in LA.
Um... you could do the same thing by paying the cover at the Comedy Store and hanging around all night. But if you take his class, they will all know you're a complete chump who took a comedy class and you'd lose any credibility before you got past "Hello."
Day 2 he tells you that it's time to work on marketing and your relationship with industry and bookers. That's really how most comics get started. Work on marketing before you pay any attention to having an act. But again, this is the day I want to kill his family in front of him - and who wants to work on their act after that? Let's stick with 12 hours about Facebook til the grieving wears off.
Day 3 - if you made it this far without phoning an attorney, a consumer rights advocate from the local news and another guy to kill his extended family including any sperm he might have spilled while cashing your check - on this day you "work together and we all benefit!"
Or as he explains, they "find all the people in the room who also book rooms, work regularly, tour, and can offer help." Sounds like a day where he leaves the teaching to everyone else while he blows L Ron Hubbard's mummified remains in the ladies toilet.
Day 4 and 5 are evidently for the VIP and Executive members. I don't know what that means but he evidently took the marketing class first as well. It tells you that headliners - which he rightfully doesn't seem to classify himself as - will tag your jokes. That means when you do a joke about blowing L Ron Hubbard's corpse in a ladies toilet, Ant will wake up and tell you to snap your fingers and say "you go, girl!" afterwards and you will now kill your own family rather than face the shame of wasting money on this.
Here's where it gets really ugly for the poor, poor bastards who don't know any better...
For the extra money of getting the VIP or Top Gun or Nigger Please package, they will tape you on the final night showcase and send it out to industry.
Read this again... THEY WILL TAPE YOU AND SEND IT OUT TO EVERYBODY IN THE BUSINESS.
If the all-caps didn't clue you in - This is a Bad Thing. It's the Worst Thing anybody could do to a new comic. It is the equivalent to spending five days telling a virgin how to fuck a girl, filming their first time and sending the tape to everybody in adult entertainment, explaining you it will help their fledgling porn career.
Ask Kyle Cease or any working comedian to show you a tape of their first time - or first years of comedy and they'd recoil at the thought. Much less sending it out to agents and networks.
It is abominable. It is shit-baggery at it's worst. And they charge you money for it.
You might- or must - ignore the fact that Kyle Cease is an inarguable nobody WITHIN comedy, much less outside of it. God knows why Louie Anderson attached his name to it but at the same time Louie Anderson wouldn't have the most cursory idea in how to get started in stand-up today. He'd tell you to mail your VHS tape to Budd Friedman and hope for the best.
Sure there are contemporary comedians that may sit in and give you advice for a minute. Why? Because it's a gig and they are getting paid. For the same way they will do a show at your college or chime in on a VH1 list show, they will drive across town to tell a bunch of boneheads to "just keep writing and performing" or "find your own voice."
They'd tell you the same thing at a bar for nothing if you asked. It's all bullshit and it's all available for free.
Should you take my advice? Fuck no. I would have told Dan Whitney to dump that silly "Larry the Cable Guy," that he'd never make a dime with that goofiness. I would have told Daniel Tosh that his show would never work, that he was just interrupting good Youtube footage like a latter-day Bob Saget. I would have been wrong on many occasions.
My best advice doesn't even work for me. I thought going on stage on mushrooms for New years Eve would make for exceptional comic insight. I've convinced myself that 2900 dollars in the bank is "fuck-you" money. I was sure that making fun of a tragic burn victim in a room nearly empty would be hilarious - especially to the burn victim. Oops.
You learn everything from experience. You could get a doctorate in listening to someone else's road and not get shit from it.
I'm grumpy and caustic and miserable all around and my advice isn't worth a sack of rat-shit either. But I know a raging scam and dream-profiteering when I see it.
All the Stand Up Boot Camp classes - whether it's a two-day "immersive" or a 5 day "mastery" - say that seating is limited. It's limited to how many of you retards will actually show up. So much so that they do actual live telemarketing.
I think the part that really threw me over the edge is when was a comic in Denver - a working comic that came highly recommended to me by other comedians - told me that Kyle and Louie Anderson cold-called him on a conference call saying they'd heard he was a comedian and wanted to know if he wanted to take his comedy "to the next level."
Even knowing how much garbage this comedy class is, for a new comic that has to be a very intimidating moment. Fortunately, he didn't fall for it. But who knows how many cold-calls they had to make to fill the limited seats. I'm surprised they didn't offer him a clock radio or a waffle-maker if he'd just come and listen to a brief presentation.
I don't condemn someone for making a living. I'm not some Hicks-ian "You do a commercial, you're off the artistic roll-call" purist. But I am whole-heartedly against people who prey off the innocent delusions of the incapable.
"You sure could kick field goals in the NFL, Mr One-Legged Man! You just have to Believe! 3000 dollars, please."
You contemptible parasites. Fuck you.
And for this whole night of hate and vodka and spell-check and Wikipedia, a world of desperate dreamers will still part with hard-earned money just to waste a day or a week of lies and sunshine amongst a veritable AA meeting of other suckers - all of whom were lucky enough to get a limited seat and all of whom are told they are good enough because Kyle "Who?" Cease said it was so.
I'll make you an offer.
If you really want to give your money away for free advice that will probably do more harm than good, I'm going to teach a class.
It's called Doug Stanhope's Comedy Death Camp.
No, I'm not kidding.
I'll do it next year so you have time to save up your money - late spring or fall - somewhere out in the middle of the desert or maybe even at my house so you can run some errands between absorbing my genius.
It will last 5 days but for anyone who has taken Kyle Cease's class there will be an extra day to de-program you with wine and angry bees.
You will perform every night for local "The Hills Have Eyes" tweakers or bikers or whoever we can con into watching you - a far harder task than getting students. You'll get advice from everyone and most of it will conflict - just like real-world comedy.
You'll be filmed but not under the guise of helping, only to exploit your naivete -just the same as Kyle Cease does.
Day One will be the same - meet stars and headliners and club owners and agents. They won't give a fuck about you, they are just friends of ours there for a party. It's like Montreal only more selective and without the pretense.
On day one, we just get fucked up and hang out until you perform, then we get more fucked up while we give you the free advice that's included in the enormous fee.
Day two - everyone will be hungover and it'll be hot as fuck. You won't wanna get up but you'll have to for radio. Sure, it'll just be a podcast but it will last on the internet forever so you'd better put your "A" game on. Then you'll receive unsolicited advice from all corners and enjoy an all-day yet intermittent symposium from me called "All Comedy Classes Are Bullshit Including This One." This will probably start on day one and last sporadically throughout but technically it is scheduled for day two.
I'll try to invite my brother as he's the only family I have left for you to kill and I want to play fair.
Day 3 is "Work on Your Act day" where you are berated for not having been working on your act this whole time. You've only been doing comedy this long and you haven't been working on it? Un-fucking-believable. Night 3 is Carlos Mencia night where you steal another classmates act and see if you can do better with it than that shit you wrote yourself. Club owners will be watching and don't give a fuck who wrote it.
Day 4 is where all of our serotonin levels have plummeted and we feel really bad about the shit we've been giving you and actually try to help. Of course, we won't be of much help but we'll be honest about it. By now you will have some beefs with the other members of the class because some will be better than you or have gained favor with us for reasons other than comedy merit such as drugs or hot-chickness or maybe they have a connection and can get us free Bose headphones. That's the reality of the business. Tonight you'll try to find a way to one-up or sabotage them.
Day 5 will probably be an Ambien blackout for me so just make some shit up.
Day 6 we'll all go to Vegas and the pick of the litter will open for me. Based on some loosely judged contest we will pick a Grand National Tomorrow's Next Huge Comedy Star or otherwise amplified title and on
Day 7 I will fly with you to Reno and bring you to the Bunny Ranch to fuck a whore on the house.
You'll be left to find your own way back, go home and tell all of your friends the stories and then you'll be back to where you'd be after Kyle cease's stupid fucking rip-off class - trying to do stand-up comedy after a week's worth of effort.
My class will cost one more dollar than Kyle's- never price yourself lower than someone less known and remarkably unmemorable. Space will be limited to how much money my bank holds and the accommodations will make your first comedy condo on the road seem like Valhalla.
But the drinks will be on me, ladies and gentlemen. The advice will probably be of no effect, the stage time will be nothing but adrenaline and fear, the party will be unforgettable until you blackout and we put it on the internet and none of it matters because we all die at the end.
Stay tuned for details on how to sign up at www.comedydeathcamp.com.
In the meantime, I might take a refresher at Kyle and Louie's class. Get my wig and my fake moustache.
I've noticed other comedy classes have a "win free passes" or "get 50 dollars off" propositions so in keeping with the theme...
Find 5 places that I'm a hypocrite in the update above and we won't pee on you while you sleep at Comedy Death Camp.