To any stand-ups submitting for a Comedy Central Half Hour this year (or any future years), I thought this might be helpful.
This is the time of year when comedians are starting to put together submission tapes (it’s a submission process, btw), and I’ve had a bunch of comedian buds asking for everything from general tips to weirdly specific technical questions. When I first decided to submit, I scoured the Internet looking for examples of comedians’ submission videos (with no luck), so I figured the most helpful thing I could do would be to un-password protect mine and post it right here.
I don’t know exactly what Comedy Central is looking for. I was never given a list of guidelines. My manager asked for a tape of my best 30 minutes, and I sent her the best version I could put together. Obviously, everyone’s submissions are going to look different, but here’s what I can tell you about mine that should answer some of the more FAQs:
-This was recorded at ACME Comedy Club in Minneapolis, MN. I was lucky enough to have a feature week of 7 half hour spots in 5 days in front of killer audiences. The year before I tried to submit by taping a one-off show in NYC in front of a mediocre crowd. I highly recommend the former. If you can get a feature weekend opening for a buddy at a good club, do it. Taping multiple shows takes the pressure off getting it in one take, and allows you to pick your best set to submit.
-It was taped using the club’s just-ok camera in the back of the room. The sound was only from the mic on stage, so the audience wasn’t picked up at all. Luckily, I record all my sets on my phone, so I synced them together later. That’s why you can hear things like me putting my phone on the stool so loudly in the first few seconds and the audience members in the front talking so loudly throughout. What I’m saying is that the sound and video doesn’t have to be super pro, as long as you can see and hear what’s going on.
-I hate my improvised intro, and you might notice some crossfades where I cut out some unnecessary crowd stuff. But that might answer two questions right there: Is a little editing ok? Will they watch through a minute of garbage? Yes and yes!
-I didn’t worry about doing clean material or stuff I thought they wanted to hear. The coolest thing about a cable special that airs at midnight is that you can say just about anything, as long as you don’t mind a few bleeps. So don’t worry too much about what you think they want to hear, just do your favorite stuff.
-I submitted almost exactly what I performed when I actually taped the special. This one seems obvious to me, but a lot of people have asked if you have to do what you submit for the actual taping. I guess maybe you could book it, then go through the process of asking to change things, but to me the point of this submission tape is to make things easy on Comedy Central, and straight up show them your special (which is different than showing them you’re special, which all of you are).
Anyway, thanks for reading. I sincerely hope this is helpful. I’m posting because I’ve been asked a lot about the submission process, and having an example that actually worked (!!!) available as a resource would have been helpful for me.
If you’d like to compare my submission video with the final product, you can watch my whole special for free here: http://www.cc.com/episodes/cxbaaa/the-half-hour-adam-newman-season-3-ep-304, or download it on iTunes for like $3.
And if you did find this helpful, all I ask is that you please donate $1,000 in my name to Longhopes Donkey Shelter in Bennett, CO. Or just follow me on Twitter.