A Guide to Surviving and Enjoying Comedy Competition Festivals
Comedy is so subjective. Sometimes a comic crushes with the audience but doesn’t move on because the judges don’t like it. Sometimes a comic gets crickets for their jokes but the judges love them. Even worse, comics have such fragile egos that when we don’t advance in a competition, it’s like a referendum that we’ve wasted the last however many years of our lives trying to perfect telling a joke. In light of this, I thought I’d share a few tips on how to get through a comedy competition festival smoothly. I do not claim to be an expert in this and there are certainly myriad tips out there, I’m just sharing my own from personal experience.
1. Relax – You already got into the festival, so you’ve already won. Comedy is all about getting people to see you, and people are going to see you because you’re there. Being in the festival means performing in front of industry. Now that you are there, relax and have fun with it. Getting to the festival should be your goal, and you’ve already accomplished that.
2. Do Jokes You Want to Do – Comics so often try to structure their sets around jokes they think the judges will like or jokes they think will crush with the audience. But half the time, those jokes don’t crush and the judges don’t like them. I say do the jokes that make you happy and that you are excited about. That excitement will shine through your performance and you’ll feel good about your set even if you didn’t move on because you enjoyed telling your jokes.
3. Make Friends with Comics – The best part of a comedy festival is getting to meet other comics from different scenes and having the opportunity to make new friends. At the festival, you’ll see tons of other talented, creative, funny people. This is your opportunity to get to know some of them. You’re not in competition with these people, you’re performing with them. And most of what you accomplish in this business is going to be because of your friends, not because you won a comedy festival.
4. Don’t Hand Out Business Cards to Everyone – Seriously, nobody likes this guy. You should definitely bring business cards with you and hand them out to people you converse with, but don’t just walk around handing business cards to people whose name you don’t even know.
5. Follow Up – If you do meet any cool industry that expresses interest in you, follow up with them after the festival. Comics are the worst people in the world at doing this. Don’t be annoying or pushy about following up, just send an email saying how much you enjoyed meeting them and be genuine about it.
I hope this helps at least one person going to a comedy festival competition.
When I was on stage in Chattanooga, TN, a knock-off Ric Flair wannabe professional wrestler walked on stage and kneed me in the groin for talking shit. But at least I didn’t back down. And the crazy thing is, this still probably isn’t the weirdest thing that has happened to me on stage.
San Francisco Weekly describes Grant Lyon as “a hilariously sharp observer, not one of those tired white-guy bellyachers.” Born in Los Angeles, taken to Chicago for middle school, high school in Sacramento, college in Santa Cruz, Grant has been around. He is a practitioner of sophisticated immaturity - his comedy blends intelligent wit with pure silliness all while maintaining a relaxed surfer-dude personality. A history major in college, his infatuation with this nation’s past and present stand out throughout his show.
A former collegiate soccer player with UC Santa Cruz, Grant decided to pursue a career on stage instead of on the field. He was a featured performer at the Asheville Comedy Festival, winner of the Colorado Mile High Comedy Competition, finished 2nd in the Ice House Comedy Competition, appeared in the prestigious San Francisco Comedy Competition, and has opened for names like Bobby Lee and Robin Williams. He is a member of the sketch comedy group Four In The Back, performs improv regularly, and is an accomplished actor. His comedy is clever and honest, a unique combination of social commentary and ridiculous observations.