how to network in comedy from a real pro – Alex Ptak

Illustration by Rachel Lenihan

Alex Ptak is a top talent man for KRB Talent Empire. He has done many big deals with top comedy talents like Geraldo Rivera and the Rivera Family Band. He is also currently represented by ACA as a Networking Star.

Before leaving to work as talent man at KRB, Alex worked on a steam boat where he quickly rose to the top by networking. After many years of hard work on the poop deck, Alex became a famous stand up comedian in only 3 weeks. He is now ready to pass his show business lessons on to you.

So, you want to be a comic, eh? Well you better take a squat, sailor, because you’re going to need some well rested sea legs if you want to run this race.

Everybody knows there’s only one way to make it to the corner office in the business of laughs and it sure as hell ain’t performing for free like a landlubber. You gotta network your butt off, and then put your butt back on your butt socket and network some more until your butt falls off again.

Now I know to some of you autists, the idea of talking to actual people might be foreign as a long sail to the South China Sea. Luckily, I’ve broken it down here in 7 simple steps.

Tell Everyone You Are A Comedian

How for the love of Christ are you going to get anywhere if no one knows you’re a comic? Jesus. The folks who run the Chuckle Barge aren’t putting astronomers up on the late night show to discuss Polaris, or Orion’s Belt, or some such. They’re only looking for STAND UP COMEDIANS.

Everywhere you go, bring your business card with the little picture of you and your little microphone and throw it at every Tom and Mary around. They’re not all going to take it well. That’s fine! Your friend’s roommate’s sister doesn’t get you and frankly she’s probably a mutinous dog.

Be At The Places You Want To Work

You want to board the success steamer and get late night spots at the Chuckle Barge? Be at the Chuckle Barge. All the time. Everybody has friends who don’t like to buy 10 dollar beers in the waste land of upper Manhattan. They are snakes in man clothes and you need to cut them out of your life.

Being at the place of opportunity provides access to all of the opportunity that flows forth from the sea of opportunity. Meet the other comics. Meet the staff. Casually lean on things. Get a catch phrase, everybody knows and loves, like “ahoy, mate!” Now you’re beginning to sound like a comic. Nice work!

Lock Down Steve

This is most important step. Steve is the only entrance into the inner circle at the Chuckle Barge. Everybody’s gonna be working Diana because she’s the one who books the shows. Screw that noise! Steve is the gate and the key. Diana is the gargoyle. This metaphor is getting wordy here but frankly I do not care for her very much. Go start talking to Steve. Tell him you want to do spots.

Pick Up Steve’s Kids From His Ex-Wife On Thursdays

Steve’s got your business card. You’re both friends on social media. You’ve listened to him yammer on over the course of three nights. You’ve deleted all other contacts in your phone in front of him. Now it’s time to start building some trust.

Heck, the guy is burning both ends of the candle between two jobs and his exotic pottery collection. Why not do him a favor and pick up the girls from Katie’s house? You know Steve doesn’t get along with her new husband, and it would really free up his schedule to spend more time at the pottery store.

Cancel your plans to hit the open mic. Picking up the kids is your next step to success in show biz. Don’t tell Steve. Just start doing it.

Kill For Steve

Now you’re really getting sick of that monkey faced fuck over at Katie’s. Every time you come by (sure it’s only been once so far) Superman over here has to know “who are you?…why are you taking my kids?” It’d be a lot easier if he was out of the picture. I mean did you spend all that time learning how to knife fight on a steam boat to come to the city and get nagged to death?

Follow him to work. See that something happens in the train station. Steve’s gonna love it. Plus, this is going to be a great source of material later if you spin it right!

Let What Happens, Happens

As soon as possible, you’re going to want to tell Steve what you did after the Barge is closed. He’s going to act upset at first. Maybe even freak out a little. This is a lot to take in at once and absolutely natural. The guy did theater in high school, remember? He could have been the next DeNiro.

Hold him close for a second with your thick, tattooed arms. Let him cry it out. No problem. WHEN HE STARTS TO KISS YOU A LITTLE BIT, YOU GO WITH IT. This part is crucial and that is why I have put it in capital letters for extra emphasis.

It’s going to feel wrong but also maybe it is the only thing that’s right. This is a fine time to use your tongue techniques from the steam boat.

Work Late Nights At The Chuckle Barge

So Steve’s going to stop talking to you after this, most likely, but you’re going to start getting those spots you kept talking about. He’s a real classic James Dean type and maybe he doesn’t want to think about the greatest night in either of your lives, because it challenges his whole identity. Whatever.

One week of late night. Dice drops in. He takes you on tour. You’re a famous stand up comedian. Career: land ho!

This plan worked for me and I am convinced it is the only way to work in comedy. If you go through with this plan, please do not change any steps, you will only fuck yourself up like an idiot. God bless.

This article was written by Alex Ptak, a NYC comedian and co-host of the political comedy podcast Left Jest. Alex also wrote a newspaper called The Terrible Tribune and hosts a monthly show, Industry Night, at The Village Lantern. You can find more of Alex on Twitter @PtakJokes and his personal website

The featured image is original art from NYC comedian Rachel Lenihan. You can find more of Rachel’s work and material on Twitter @RachelMLenihan and Instagram @r_lenihan.

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