Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Life Support; Quick 30 lives – up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Select, Start!

Respect. Harmony. Support.

These three things seem to be lost among a community of entertainers. How hard is it to respect a person in a similar field as you? I don't mean respecting douche-bags, or people whom are always rude to other people. I'm talking about respecting others who are working hard at their craft, networking and befriending other people. Trying to bring a comradery to fellow members. Respect yourself enough to respect those who are in the same boat as you. The same boat being a floating ship of respect for everyone and this business.

Harmony comes and goes. There is a fine line searching for a perfect pitched tune. Harmony... Working well together with new faces and old. Helping those who are starting, and working closely in a synergistic relationship with veteran entertainers.


Imagine how you feel when people leave before you perform. Imagine the emotions that go through you when someone “disrespects” you. Think of these things. Think of what bothers you the most when you perform, or when others just upset you. I am sure, and so are you, they're thinking the same things you think about. Well, unless they are douche-bags who don't care about anyone but themselves.

In the end results it only makes life so much easier working together. Why people feel the need to “be above” others doesn't make sense, in any way. Give it a shot. Say hi to someone new, talk to people, be nice to people and try and work with people.

Peace in Harmony, until again...
~ Thomas J Bellezza

P.S. Don't focus on those not sticking around or doing the three above motivational aspects in life. Respect yourself first and foremost. Don't allow us to bring you down. This is your life. But have enough respect to be there respecting others. “Do unto others as you wish done to you.” give harmony to your motivation, your cause. Live without stress against others. If you are concerned what others are doing “wrong” in your mind, or to you, or how you are not making it and they are, then you are living out of harmony in your own self. Live in harmony of yourself and others. Finally support your choices. Don't let us dictate your life. Embrace what life is for you and what life is for others. As people come into your life embrace them. As they walk away, embrace them. There is a peace there... you will find it.

Now go level up those lives and make it to the final level of success!

Lesson over...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Life Among The Stars; Zodiac, Maniac?

Two kinds of people consume an environment inside entertainment. There are those who feel like stars above and beyond all other creatures. Then there are those who don't care if they are or are not stars. With variations to this rule of two existing; it only seems appropriate to keep this example simple. More or less it has nothing to do with Star Wars or a Sith master/apprentices.

It takes a lot to figure out what's going on in a person's career, hobby, or during their elevation through different stages of said crafts. Though, like drugs, one may not realize an addicted brewing until it's to late. How will one know it's to late? One may enter a room, where it had been thought to be a particular holiday celebration, only to find out it's an intervention. Of what you ask? Of being a total douche-bag.

People who feel like stars care about one thing, their stardom. How they will become, continue, and go down in history as a star. These people sometimes don't realize they're not even stars yet. Or have nothing in common with a person who can be a start. These people do anything to help forward their career. Most of the time these people never care if it forces another person to fall. They are naive know-it-alls. Things such as “Why is that person more famous than me?”, “This person sucks and shouldn't be successful.” and “I can totally out do them in that craft.” can be evidence of douche-bagary. Which leads to something interesting.

These people are annoying. Why not focus that hate towards something constructive? Maybe look into why these people are further, instead of just making fun of them. Focusing on why you're not further, instead of wasting time on hating other people's success. There is more to this world than worrying about how other people are doing, what you'd love to be doing. If anything, wouldn't you want to be friends with them? So you can learn, you can help them, in turn helping each other?

The person that doesn't care if they are a star usually has much to offer. They make time for themselves to do things that are necessary to succeed. These people take any time available to watch what's going on in other people's careers, performances, on how they made, what they are doing, and looking into how they live their business lives. They don't find time to stand there in hate, or anger, for someone's success.

I suppose the main difference is knowing what it takes, and thinking you have what it takes. You can sit there all day and think you have what it takes, but until you become a person who is willing to do what it takes, then you are basically a dreamer, hobbyist, or person who will turn into a judgmental annoyance among an artists community.

Think about what you do. It reflects on you, and those around you. A rule I live by is. “You never know who someone is, or knows”. This rule lives in me and I try my hardest to always be nice to people. Even those I can't stand. To figure out if you are doing something incorrectly. Let us take a look at your activities at, say... a show/event.

Do you stay around waiting just to go on while being annoyed that other people are performing?

Do you leave right after the show/event just because “there is no other reason to stay around”?

When a performance is going on, do you judge their performance, or do you embrace what they are doing as an art form?

Do you say this constantly... “If only...”? If only the right person saw me. If only I played the right show I'll be seen by someone of importance.

These are examples of a person who most likely will not succeed in entertainment. You need to reverse this attitude so you can embrace art as expression. When you have that down you can embrace how important it is to concentrate on your business side.

Make things happen by not being a douche-bag. Be nice to people, be nice to yourself and live in the moment. You can't make anything happen by not being out there. So why leave once YOU are done? -unless you have somewhere to be of course- Just remember this. There is nothing more important than the moment of NOW. Right NOW it is happening, you are living. Right NOW you can go left or right. RIGHT NOW YOU ARE, YOU EXIST!

Peace in Harmony, until again...
~ Thomas J Bellezza

P.S. A pet-peeve if I may. I encounter this out in the field. People come up to me asking questions only to tell me I'm wrong. Fine. But they ask more questions. Why keep asking me questions if I don't know what I'm talking about? The other part of this is how I don't really like wasting my words on people who think my information is silly, or outrageous to a point they defend themselves when I explain why their way is not working. If your way was working, why ask me and how come you are nowhere?

At this point, I usually tell them that I can set up a meeting for consultation at a nice monetary rate. Only to hear this sentence, which have numerous formation but this is the gist. “I am not going to pay you. You have nothing worth listening to.” or my favorite. “You are an ass to think anyone would pay you for talking.”

After said comments I walk away only to be approached later with more questions FROM THE SAME PERSON! If I am worth nothing, why bother me? I have been doing this for 15 plus years to your 2 years. I have been to the top and back. You are standing around just doing shows with nothing to SHOW for it. Give me the respect if you are going to ask me questions over and over and over and over again. I own a company, I make money by talking, helping and guiding people. So any advice I give you for free should be taken as a sign of kindness from me. That I respect, or care enough about, you to even give you this information.

It upsets me so much to see people doing the wrong things to “make it” happen. When I see them doing what I have, or others have, done to fail in the past I just feel obligated to just explain the deal. But I know it is not my place, and yet, if I keep silent, they still bother me as I have explained above. I have recently made a vow to myself that I am not going to give advice anymore to people unless they ask me. BUT, if they ask me only to tell me I am wrong, or to defend themselves, then I am just going to stop so we can set up an appointment.

My life is to short to get aggravated through this. I have a career I am involved in, and people around me that I am helping. As a group I know we'll all continue making things happen. Camaraderie is the best form of success.

Lesson over... 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

To Compete Or Not To Compete; Of Course Not!

Competition is a collection of inspiring entertainers looking to be seen as the best. What this really translates as; Can you bring the most people to vote for you. You cannot judge art. Any form of entertainment is just another form of art. Like, America's Got Talent. This show is ridiculous. Hundreds of people enter to win a contest. Those entering all have a certain talent that differs from the other. How can you find one winner if there is a voting system based on a singer verse a magician? Now, they are far a part from having any similarities.

Okay, fine, you can judge if they're good at their skill or not. Can they sing, yes/no, can they play their instrument? Fine, those things can be judged. But what if we take people who are skilled at their craft just enough to be able to express it? Now how can you judge these styles. A jazz musician can't be placed together with a metal musician. It just, well doesn't make sense. Worse yet, how can you say this person playing jazz is better or worse than that person playing jazz? It comes down to this. Are you enjoying what is being shown? And if so, are you in front of a group of people who all like that style? What if someone playing jazz is in front of a metal crowd. I'm sure you'll see a metal person win over that crowd easier than an awesome jazz player.

Let's take away how you can't judge talent. We'll look at a more business end of this scam. You're told to invite people, some times sell tickets. In either case it comes down to you bringing more people FOR YOU. Oh, alright. How many rounds are there? Sometimes three rounds. For math, let's just go with three. You bring twenty people who pay twenty dollars each time they see YOU. Now, three rounds of this repeated. That would be four hundred dollars brought in because of you. You do this for each show, three shows, now we are looking at. Twelve hundred dollars ($1,200). Normally you win some money. Say, one hundred dollars. Oh, and a show at some random place. These are small numbers of course, but do the math. You just made them $1,100 and you earned $100 and a show. You basically just paid to play. Think about that for ten minutes.

Nice, you got paid, after three shows, and you got another show. Awesome. You can do free shows anywhere. Now there are people out there who just like doing shows, and have no desire to make a career out of it. This, or any of my writings are for career minded individuals in entertainment. Even America's Got Talent, after all those shows, you win a million dollars plus a year contract in Vegas. That million dollars is really your pay for the year. Maybe we can say it isn't and you get paid for all those gigs afterward. You are still going up against a ton of people and the money that show brings in is about the same percentage you get... $100 Bucks, in comparison.

I want to say this much. Getting paid. This is a wonderful thing. You need this to happen to have some resemblance of a career at hand. Being paid happens for a few reasons. You're either known to a point where clubs want you. Why, because you draw. At this time, you're getting what you ask for to perform. Though you still negotiate before you solidify your event. Just another way you get paid a small amount that doesn't really represent your skill/talent, but, “it is a paying gig” so why complain? You should complain because you're getting screwed over. Finally, you can make things happen on your own. Do your own shows, until you are at that point where people want you to perform at their shows. For a cost of course. After all, this is Entertainment Business.

Peace and hope, until again...
~ Thomas J Bellezza

P.S. You can perform anywhere you want. Paid or unpaid, but in the beginning of your career you will more likely not get paid and won't play anywhere you want. So make things happen by going out there and networking your little butt off. Become vocal. Maybe do smaller shows at those places. But I am a firm believer in honest pay for honest work. Do you think it's fair you are working for a multibillion dollar company, like Walmart and you're only earning $10 an hour? Are you really worth .16 cents a minute? Lunch is $5-$10 a day. Your first five hours is for a weeks worth of lunch. Awesome! Now add gas. We haven't gotten to your bills, let alone much needed leisurely stuff.

How do you make it to a point where you're asked to perform. To get what you want/deserve? Well, maybe together we'll learn while you follow my writings. I am only here to help, not so much complain about a flawed system. Since it is not the system that is flawed, but the person working the system, or in the system. As, you are flawed. Flawed to knowing a correct way to play the game. A game of business in a world of entertainment. It is a tough thing, very tough, be strong. There are too many people starting out and getting thrown a bone covered in crap. Be safe out there and protect, help, and enjoy each other.

Art has an audience, you'll find yours. Not everyone is a political comedian/musician. Not everyone is a ballerina, and not everyone likes the color red. If there are groups out there who enjoy wrapping themselves up in saran-wrap and poop on themselves. I'm sure someone will enjoy your joke or song. There is an audience for every style of entertainment. 

Lesson over... 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Giving up; Why waste your time

Welcome to the end. There's a thing some of us value that shall never happen. The end. It comes out of nowhere; it fills up your soul in a most toxic way. The end. There comes a point in everyone's career, or venture, when they must reevaluate what has been, what will be, and where they are in life. Sadly, this comes too quickly for most entertainers. Once it becomes evident how much effort it takes. That there's no other way to realize you have to make sacrifices. It is a painful thing to realize. It can push your passion to a halt.

During Metallica's “Black Album” recording and tour time, for three plus years, all of them started out married and three of them ended up divorced. It's tough. What's your sacrifice worth? Is it worth the passion of your soul screaming out to express? Is it the love of being in that spotlight? Is it a joy of performing, interacting, being a part of that scene? What makes it work it?

For me, I love creating and performing. I'm a slave to that stage. Be it comedy, music, or acting, I love being on stage. Not for others to watch, but because I feel at home there. I feel I have something to say. Even if it's not important, my heart still needs to have a moment to express things. From there, I'm always shaking with ideas. In one day I could go from drawing, to writing, to music, to comedy, and still feel like there is so much more.

This may be the separation of artist/hobbyist versus a career driven individual. An artist must create but not really know, or care about that business end of it. If they're painting in their garage, or creating music to play at some rundown bar, they don't care. Just as long as they are doing it.

A career driven individual never stops. They never find a reason to give up. This is their life, what they want, where they want to be. Giving up chances of redundant moments in life for a once in a life time opportunity. That's desire, motivation, dedication. It flows through someone's will to be. It gives them an understand of air. So much so that if they couldn't breathe, as long as they could create they'd be fine with it.

I am a rare individual who is divided into two parts. One part artist, one part career driven. I love to create, it is my life. I feel dead when I can't put my mind to use. If I'm just sitting around I feel wasted. Even now I am writing something. This became an effort to sever boredom from my daily life. After this, I am going to work on jokes, maybe music, may eat. Either way, I will always be creating.

This does not have anything to do with my second side. My career. The career side always makes things happen in me. What opportunity can I get from this, or better yet... What opportunity can I make happen through this act? Every day, I do a little advertising, no matter what I at least advertise. When I go out, I also network and constantly have merchandise on me. Not to sell, but to help expose my name by giving it out to anyone that wants it. It is free, for I just want people to know there is someone out there.

I love my life, behind the scenes or on that stage, I am happy with that part of my life. To be a careered driven entertainer you have to remember to give everything you are to it. Until you can finally relax. Make things happen by doing things. Don't wait for something to happen. It will never happen, unless you are doing things to make that “chance” happen.

I am far from over. I am far from giving up. But every day I see at least one person give up. This world was not advanced by those willing to sit down and give up on an idea. Ideas move us further in a world that can only become greater with time. So what if we have been on the moon, we're still just a large planet populated by tribal wars. I'm sure one day we'll start using our brains in guiding our expressions to another level. I'm just saying... Don't give up, ask for help, be helpful, and remember to always have fun.

Peace and hope, until again...
~ Thomas J Bellezza

P.S. Do this for yourself first and foremost. If you don't you will never find Reason. Reason is inside you. Your heart, soul, passion, are things you need to bring out of you. Others can't induce this in a pure sense. It would be only a small burst of inspiration. Driven only by those around you. Be your inspiration, be your effort, be your success. People change around you, you are always the there.

Oh, and don't forget, you never know who someone is or knows. With that said, don't be a douche-bag to them, then find out they know something you don't know only to become all friendly with them. Not cool, not professional.

Lesson over... 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Comedy Scene; Never changes... The Pyramid

I've been involved in entertainment for over 15 years of my life. In that time I have noticed one thing. People involved in the performing side of our scene don't get it. They flow through different levels of egotistical arrogance shaped by an inner mislead “Plan”. It feels as if no one believes “working together” is important. When you are still at your “none career” stage help is help. Earth is a huge place where everyone has great things in their brain.

It's like any sign of talent in another person, or chance of talent, they are pushed aside out of a mentality of “They must die, so that I get MY chance!” Which is not the case young ones. To clear things up, you don't have a career in entertainment if you are living off of welfare, get paid sporadically, or are unknown outside your “home base”. Give it up, stop acting like you are better than sliced bread, because you really are not. What was your name again? Remember that next time you give anyone a slanted nose into the air.

It's all over lower level venues where that environment is covered in disdain. People do it repeatedly. Absent of respect for their community, they walk around with this feeling of superiority. Despite them knowing a lot of work is still apparent, these performers look down on those starting out “or not up to standards”. They feel deserving of a chance beyond all others therefore making these “peons”, simply put, an inconveniences to their well “deserved” accomplishments.

It's comedy, remember that? It is about fun, having fun, turning a sour vibe into a FUN vibe. Even for those who are not doing well, or just can't “hack” it... if they are having fun, what is the big deal? Enjoy it with them. We all start out, some of us just stay in the beginning stages a little longer than others. HAVE FUN...!

Remember when you were starting out asking around for help, or advice. What happen when you didn't get any? Did you think “What the hell?” It feels the same when you are in that position and you could help those beginning. Don't treat them as if they can't be there to waste your time. You are a nobody; you will always be a nobody until you make yourself a somebody. A somebody is a person that has a career in entertainment and allows themselves to be open to help others. --- Again to clear things up, you don't have a career in entertainment if you are living off of welfare, get paid sporadically, or are unknown outside your “home base”. ---

Let's play a game. Name a famous person who doesn't work with their friends. Name a famous person that didn't help a friend, or was helped by a friend while making their way up through different stages of their career. Now, think about successful groups of people who work well together. Think about how they are constantly working with friends they had, and gained.

Now, if you can name a person that does it all on their own. I want you to think about how long they've been sustaining their status verse how much they're liked in the business. One person in example of being aware of their community of entertainers... Adam Sandler. I'm sure Adam Sandler gets away with a lot of chances since he helps everybody he grew up being around. Plus he is a nice person. 

This world is not about you, it is about us as a whole. If you can't work in a community of people, then you are just wasting your time, and everyone else’s time. Work with people in the business. Also, I think people who suck at their craft still deserve your attention. Because that person might be starting out. Who knows, with any guidance they might find their voice. Your help could lead to their help for you. 

The Pyramid...

I once had a person come up to me and say “Make me famous!” only after finding out who I am, what I know, and who I know. I looked at this person to explain that I couldn't make them famous. They'd have to do it. Since my knowledge has to be utilized through self actions, what could I do past getting them started? Don't get me wrong, if this person was willing to pay me a bunch of money I would devour my days until fame flourished over them. I would have done it, for a price. BUT, the idea of fame doesn't last by accomplishment alone. This person didn't, and doesn't have what it takes to sustain a famous status. There is a lot of work involved. If you were so famous only to decide you wanted anonymity you need only walk away. At that point stop exploiting your name.

Other than Advertisement, Exposure, and Networking, there is a fourth skill needed to sustain your success. I call it a skill, because that is what they are. You must learn these skills. That fourth rung of your success ladder is... the Pyramid. 

Imagine you were stuck standing before an entry level position. You can't, no matter how hard you try, get through that damn door. But, you have everything it takes to make it through that level two door. You can easily make it pass that second level. Along comes your friend, or a person you networked well with, and this person can easily get through that door. For whatever reason, they are a master of passing through an entry level situation. Sadly, they have no idea what it takes to make it through that second door. They don't understand what it takes to get to that next level. But, YOU DO!!! So now they help you get in, then you fly through that second door only to be stopped head on against a third door. What to do? You again have no idea, you've never heard of these rules. Your friend, who knew how to get through entry level easily, knows this third door very well. Their uncle taught them everything about this third door. So, they get through... and so on.

That is the Pyramid of success. HELP ONE ANOTHER, for you never know who someone is, or knows. Being aware of reality helps guide your will to success. You are no better than your peers. Anything you learn can only help you if you do it, and are willing to do it for others too. No one can make you successful. A person who says this, or implies this... “If only”... the dream doesn't come, we have to make the dream become.

Peace and hope, until again...
~ Thomas J Bellezza

PS... Don't judge those performing around you. They're most likely judging you too, and that is just a nasty cycle of events. If you see someone falling short of motivation, or confidence, go up to them and give them a pep talk. Inspire. That is what we do as performers. We inspire the impossible. No matter which media you create, everything makes our minds move. “I want that talent, to move colors with paints, or words or sound... or laughter.” 

Don't waste your time on ass-pirates who think they are the shit. Not that I have to say it, since those arrogant poop-suckers will weed themselves out through natural selection, this is a rough business. It would be less tough if people band together to helped one another.

Comedians inspire laughter, what could be better than that? Laughter is joy. Imagine an audience knew that this inspiration for a laughter filled joy was just a ruse. A ploy behind a person just trying to destroy, or watch gleefully, the failings of others before them. Just picture how funny that really would be.

Lesson over...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Heckler; A word that means douche bag

“Dear heckler could you remember that you're not working this stage right now? It appears you're just distracting people's reality. That's right, you just brought people out of the fun zone. Where are they now? Welcome to the truth zone of your inability to have a social life without being a drunk.”

Comedy, it is inevitable that you'll encounter a, or more, hecklers in one's comedic career. It's never okay for YOU to heckle, lord douche bag heckler. It is a person's art form, job, expression, even a way of keeping from going postal on society. You've become evidence for us wanting to killing dumb people. It's as though they're not aware of their outbursts.

I mean, yeah, if planned, then sure it's a part of the show. But when a heckler says something only to be greeted by silence coming over that audience, it's not your cue to try another failing comment. There really is nothing they can say to help a show. If anything they take away from a show. If a comedian is being taken in another direction then that show has been destroyed. Okay, maybe that comedian doesn't get laughs or this heckler gave that comedian a laughable reaction, but how's that comedian going to learn from their mistakes?

Which brings me to my point.

Some comedians are seasoned comics, but others are not. A season comedian can handle hecklers, or whatever form of distraction come their way. At an open mic night there is no need to heckle anyone, because even if a seasoned comedian is getting heckled, the first timers are listening, deterring their efforts to that stage. It's hard enough to find a way up there, on that very lonely stage, let alone having some Douche Bag making dumb-ass comments. This action causes a sense of nerves to take over, only making it harder to entertain.

Comedy is an art form of expression that needs to be worked on from the inside out. A person needs to first feel comfortable in their own skin. Strong in their words and confidence in their presentation. After that comes into play now they have to write material that will ensure a laugh, or some form of orchestrated reactions. Once you have synergism between you and all your hard work, now you have to memorize your works to perform it as if completely natural.

With a hope you don't get a heckler to talk over your set-up or punch-line, you get up on that stage. You worked very hard to be where you are. Now some douche bag is trying to be a center of it all. Great, thanks buddy pants, learn to defend that show by being able to shut that douche bag up.

Basically, please don't heckle unless you really have no other purpose in life. At that point, we'll understand where you're coming from. But please let us know in advance so we can give you the official Douche Bag card.

Peace and hope, until again...
~ Thomas J Bellezza

PS There is one thing, taking an underground comedian's jokes, but to take a professional's routine to only duplicate on stage, is not cool. Yeah, great, you sound like that person, the jokes are said with perfect impersonation. Hell, the audience is laughing. You did your job... You, good person, are a douche bag as well... Plus, don't steel underground comedian's jokes either.

So today we learned one thing... Being a Douche Bag stinks... stop being a douche bag and work hard at writing your own jokes. Hecklers, stay home.

Lesson over...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm telling you, it's no joke

Comedy is not funny. Comedy is a job just like anything else out there. Compared to any form of entertainment, it takes practiced. It takes dedication and hard work. You can't just “do” comedy, music, acting, drawing... hell you can't just read, write, run, drive, swim... None of this is possible without practice. Practice is simply repetitive action of its proper execution. You practice something wrong for years, you will be doing it wrong. You must work hard at doing it correctly. Be conscious of what you're doing while you're doing it.

There are so many aspects of being a comedian, musician or even an actor. An entertainer is not just someone who expresses themselves in an art form. They are aware of many variables. You have many layers to its development. Then you have levels to your skill. Before we get into variables, let us explore skill level.

Novice: You have just entered a particular world of a chosen craft. You know basic information on the subject. Enjoy to have enticed your interest in joining an elite group of people who want to train for their lives to become Masters. This is a level where someone who was a hobbyist decided to dedicate more time into learning their craft. If you are someone starting out, and you don't work your everyday, you are still a hobbyist and haven't even joined ranks with the lowest class of a career orientated professional.

Skilled: Time has passed when you are well versed in your craft to entertain those who watch/follow you. You can control your direction, yet you are still learning from both example of your peers, and your own continues failings. At this level you can start instructing those below you on how to get started. You're aware of what it takes and probably have molded your lifestyle to incorporate what is needed to become successful.

Expert: You are so experienced in your craft that you now can teach those looking for direction. You are no longer practicing but growing, evolving from what you have learned. Your practice time is not about what needs to be learned, but perfecting what it is that you have learned. Since everything around you that involves your craft is now absorbed without thinking about it. Where when you started you sought out avenues to figure out what to do next. Now you memorized your path and utilize your time wisely. Hesitation, fear, and stage-fright is almost nonexistent.

Master: Though there is always something to learn, since information is ever changing, you are continue to enjoy what you have learned. Creating from your years of hard work, dedication and time poured into your craft. You are most likely respected for your skill within your community of fellow entertainers. You finally understand the value of all your knowledge. Realizing it will continue until you are enlighten by the very value of each perfect step.

Now, variables.

You have your art, and you have your business. Anyone can sit down and perfect their “art”, their “skill” but you have to be aware of how business works. If you want to be a professional you need to understand there is more than just art. Learn the business of your selected career road. Don't get confused with perfecting your “skill” when all you are doing is taking 5 years to figure out how to write a song, make a person laugh, or control an emotion reaction. Where as you finally feel “Skilled” enough to work yourself in that field, taking another 5 years to just get known... then another 5 years to start getting work. That is 15 years of your life, where you could have done all that in 5 years if you had worked a little on everything.

If you stand still working on your craft you are not exposing yourself or networking. You don't have to perform to get exposure, or start networking. Let your name get out there. Besides, even in your beginning stages it doesn't hurt to be seen. Because if anything they see your growth and may or may not be impressed, but something is always better than nothing. Don't waste the time you have here. You only get one life with this chance and you need to keep making things happen. Don't stand around thinking “if only” or I will get to it once I am better. I don't want to make a fool of myself. You will find a great many things in your first year of learning, only if you really get out there.

Peace and hope, until again...
~ Thomas J Bellezza

PS remember one thing. If you feel you worked five days during the week then you realize all you did was a show (Without promotion/exposure, networking) and you wrote material all week. You did not work. You practiced on your craft. Practicing has nothing to do with furthering your career. You can always practice when and while you are making things happen in your career.

Also... HELP EACH OTHER IN ENTERTAINMENT!!! You wish someone would help you, or give you a chance...? Well, give someone else that same respect.

Lesson over...

Altayon -- Music, Theater, Experience!!!

While doing comedy, I am also a musician who plays in a band called "Altayon"
Please take a moment and hear what it is all about.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Another mic night open to everyone; Helping out

A hookah lounge, the Extraordinair Hookah Lounge to be exact. That was where I had found myself in Clearwater Florida for another exciting Open Mic Night of comedy. Every Thursday, or as many as I can get freed to go, I am there. Like clockwork one may say. I come here to enjoy new found friends that occupy my night's curiosity into a world of social comedic entertainment. I hear stories from that weeks “occurrences” of successful misadventures. Laughter with fellow minded equals filled my inward jollies. There is never a moment I think that Thursday couldn't go by faster. I await Thursdays, and I embrace them. This is one of the better Open Mics I have been to for comedy.

Though, like all good things, I have some weird observations of a society collected in skill training environments. I found myself laughing at a lot of comedians; not just because they were funny. Yet it almost seemed rude of me to explode into hysteria when I heard a joke for the umpteenth time. As if I couldn't find that joke funny again, or maybe it took this one time for me to finally get that joke. I mean that is highly unlikely, but I should always keep my optional paths open at all times. That's where I get confused when I go to these things. Most comedians, which accumulate a majority of your Open Mic crowds, take their time not to laugh. Why? Well, my theory, being more correct than wrong, is that they are analyzing your joke, your motion on stage and gauging your comedic worth valued against their own.

I talked to a gentlemen, who is basically starting out, last night and he had said something to me that made sense. From his perspective, not mine. He said that he hates when he performs at an Open Mic and no one laughs. He needs to figure his joke's worth through interactive laughter. Fine, this is true. On a side note, I feel you are up there just to speak your lines and get comfortable with what you have to say on stage. How to hold the mic, so on and so forth... But, he needs that laughter. SO, why do the comics not laugh? So much so, that when I, a comedian, laughed it seemed awkward. There is no reaction, and when you get a laugh it is a small giggle or moan, or someone judging you so deeply that they can't handle your hackish material. Which I agree with, don't do hack jokes. Puns are fun, but hack is just ridiculous. I've done my share and work hard to sway away.

So this is what I've come up with... It may sound “crazy”. Just hear me out. For like, maybe the length of this articles remaining breath.

Helping one another out. I know, it is way out there for people in the entertainment business. Mostly from those still at a novice level with their skill. Imagine you went up at an open mic and your joke, which is only in the beginning stages anyway, gets a reaction. Not silence. Okay, I hear you, what if the joke is so bad it doesn't make sense and therefore gets no laugh at all. Makes sense, why react at all. How about everyone gets together at the end of the show and talks about their sets with one another. Or at the least, those who would like to. Or while someone is on stage and you just “Happen” to find the joke funny but just don't laugh... why don't you laugh? Don't keep it in, and don't devalue these people working enough nerve to even get up there in the first place. Give these people what you wanted at one point or another. If you are feeling down, they are too.

For those who “are the greatest thing since slice bread” going up there, or sitting in the audience. Give it up. If you are sitting in a room with these same people, even if you have “real” shows once in a while, you are in the same boat as them. The moment you wake up to go to your day job you will understand what I am saying to you. When you make a living as a career comedian, that's when you'll be “above” the cause. Which in turn gives you an opportunity/chance to turn around to help those below you now. Because you'd want that too.

It is hard enough for people who are starting out, but to knock them down while they are trying to perform... that's just low. Also, while you are performing yourself, don't put yourself down on stage. NO DEVALUING YOURSELF!!! If a joke isn't working, just keep going. You have to make it work somehow. Talking it out on stage is why you are there. Be true to your form, don't wavier. Because when you are at a “real” show you will only thank yourself for taking that time to get use to it on a smaller stage.

Over all... BE SUPPORTIVE!!!

Peace and hope, until again...
~ Thomas J Bellezza

PS If you're starting out in comedy, please don't do these things.

1) Think you are so funny that you are awesome even before you hit the stage. Confidence and cockiness is not the same thing. Yeah a joke may be funny at home, but that doesn't mean your audience is going to give you a standing-ovation. Go up there humble. These stages have been touched by comedians/entertainers that put their whole life on the line to make a person reacted emotionally to their hard, very hard work at their particular craft. Don't dishonor this tradition of skill formed through dedication because you “think you're awesome”. On average, you're not awesome for at least 10 years.

2) Don't pause for laughter, pause because of laughter. It is okay to wait while your crowd laughs in spots you didn't write to be funny. It is annoying to watch a comedian tell a joke through laughter then pause at “their” punchline while the crowd sits in silence. Just because you think it's funny, doesn't mean it is. You have to follow your crowd and go with their flow. Slow up, speed up, tell a dirty joke, quick joke, clean joke, or even a long joke. Let your audience guide you, but control the room's vibe.

3) If you're hosting, don't do your set. A host works the audience into life. Get them going by making them interested in a show that is about to start. I talked about this in my last blog, but I still never see it. So, I'm telling those who are starting out. I've been here, involved in business entertainment, for 15 years dealing with professionals... A Host works a crowd, warms them up and tells their jokes within the context of your organized ramblings. A Feature act takes that vibe (by studying what the crowd likes based on how your host did) established through your host's efforts. Because your Headliner/Closer kills the audience by doing what they do best, entertain.

Lesson over...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Working an open mic night

New open mic night, and working an open mic night

I was involved in, what we call in the comedy business, an Open Mic Night. These are set up for a few reasons. To bring patrons in for support of that particular establishment, and give a place for comedians to work their new material.

For those who have never been to a place like this before here is a run down. You come in at a certain time, sign your name on a sheet of paper and wait out your night until they call your name. As you find yourself in this period of waiting you'll get a chance to watch “favorites” bypass that list all together. Oddly, it makes sense, those recurring favorites put their time in therefore they deserve that respect. Are they good comedians? That's not the point, them going every week is reason enough. Sitting there you study comedians, hopefully you're watching your craft be performed. Then in your head you rehearse your lines to hopefully not make a fool of yourself on stage. After all is said and done, you're given your 5 minutes of time (common) then lite to get off the stage. GET OFF THE STAGE WHEN THEY LIGHT YOU!!! If you don't you do two things... Comics get mad at you, and the club will not let you up again. RESPECT THE LIGHT!

So there you have it, but let me tell you of my night in this new environment.

I showed up to this place only to find myself sitting in my car for a little while. Not out of fear. I was put off that there appeared to be no one there. It so happened that was the case. It was suppose to start around 9 pm, but I didn't see anyone walk in until around 9:30 pm. At this time, they were just getting there to set up that dreaded list. My first impression on my entrance. I loved how clean it was. I really appreciated that. I thought it had a wonderful vibe too. If you had seen this place, its layout was weird but not deterring. There was no stage just an area where a mic accompanied by speakers were placed. You could see a bar filled with about 10 people ending with some douche from Kentucky. I was pleased that this place had a list that followed its number placement. The lottery set up is a little discouraging. I believe in first come first served, or even hand raising. “You want to go up? Great, now coming to the stage...”

So I signed up for 2nd place. I believe there were about 7 comics there that night. I would also say this show ran smoothly, wasn't drawn out, and really was a breath of fresh air. So I see their host go up and do his thing. Not the “host” thing, since that is about working with a crowd, getting them pumped up and really showing that crowd “Hey, there's a show starting.” Instead he basically did his set. Which is fine, it is after all, an open mic night. The audience was completely not interested in both that host and their first comedian. I heard a lot of, this crowd sucks, they are not getting it, my set sucked. I went up firing quick jokes out, talked to them, and really got down to work some of my more advanced versions of material that night. I did well. At minimum; got a laugh at everything I said. I also got laugh breaks where I had to stop talking. I even had opportunities to riff with my jokes, and play with a heckler who got mad at something I said. Though this crowd laughed at what I said, this gentleman didn't approve and made it known. I joked with him and got him to shut up. All in all, this was a good worked set. I had a nice performance.

I got off... stage... floor? And walked back to my seat. Finished my cold water and relaxed. Now, I would say that was the night. I have some commentary about that night. This blog is a demonstration of how I improve through my growth, but also an example of what should be done for those trying to get in the business.

I want to start saying I am not a fan of Open Mic Nights though I have nothing against Open Mic Nights as a place for practice. I am known for working new jokes at “real shows” while staying away from open mic nights. I can be found at them though I am not a fan of them. I will explain why below.

If you are going to use an Open Mic Night for its purpose, this should be your direction. You don't have to do it this way, but it helps. First rule, who cares what other people think at these things. You are there to help yourself speak your words. To feel comfortable on stage, holding not holding the mic, moving around the stage or even just breathing correctly. If you are there and feel uncomfortable then what is the point. I, personally, have never felt uncomfortable at a “real show” but have felt deterred from some few Open Mic Nights because some places just show so much hate. Hate is not comedy, embracing, laughter, and teasing, joking or even making friends are all forms of a real comedic world. Hate doesn't sound funny, it isn't funny.

That's first off, second, listen to what everyone is saying on stage, how they are saying, why they are saying it, see how they move, why they move, study them. NOT TO STEAL, but to learn your craft. This is an important part of growing.

Third, record your set however you can. Why? Good question. So you can later go back and review your set. To hear how you said the joke, did you add anything, did you get a laugh, no laugh. (Though at an open mic night a no laugh doesn't really matter... more below) To get better you have to be able to see where you came from. You may have the greatest memory in the world, but there is nothing wrong with being safe. This after all is your “career” wanted life, right?

Fourth, though most important. DON'T DEVALUE YOURSELF!!! or the crowd. There is no reason to react to that particular crowd not laughing at your joke. They are just there, you're suppose to be up their working your jokes, not paying attention to an open mic audience. If they laugh or not, this is not the place to judge your jokes. Ripping yourself apart after each joke will only make that audience care less for you, and it will sway your drive in a negative way. “That joke sucked.” “That was a thinking joke people.” “Moving right along because that didn't go well.” “Scratch that one off.” Etc. And please, please don't say you are new or starting out when you get the mic in your hand. That just kills your audience right there and then.

Five has to be, stop blaming the crowd. I've seen comedians bomb one right after the other. Finally there is that one comedian that makes “that” crowd cry laughing. Sometimes it just isn't your night. It is not your jokes at an Open Mic Night, it is just YOU. You were not on that night. Something was different, you just were not aware. You could play the greatest song in the world, or tell your best “A” joke and if your off that night, no one will care.

Finally... Comedians at these Open Mic Nights don't care about you. If you get a comedian to laugh, great, but that doesn't mean they are laughing at you. It could, but it might not be the case. It is nice to get laughs, don't get me wrong, but that is not why you're there. They're more interested in getting up to do their set. Oh yeah and of course judge you... Sometimes they don't, but most of the time, if you are thinking it, they are thinking it.

Open mic nights are really a place to go and work on your jokes. This is not a “real show” where you have an audience there to laugh at jokes. Besides, comedians at Open Mic Nights are not going to laugh because they are analyzing what just happened. Don't let anything that night throw you off. Take that “awkward” feeling and build your strength against it. So when you are really performing you won't be thrown off. Also, enjoy the night, enjoy what you have going... YOU ARE ON STAGE DOING WHAT YOU LOVE. What is the problem?

In closing, remember to have fun, remember to talk to everyone there, and remember it is not about killing other comedians but uniting with them to make this world of laughter less cutthroat. Over all, I gave Brew Garden Open Mic Night first experience for me a 7 out of 10.

Be of peace, until again...
~ Thomas J Bellezza

PS If you're starting out in comedy, please don't do these following jokes. They have been done too many times. Very “hack”...

“So I'm new up here. I get nervous so people told me to just picture the crowd naked... (Insert Punchline)”

(Any masturbation joke...) *unless witty*

“That joke don't work, let me try something else”

Oh yeah, and just because you have something wrong with you doesn't mean that has to be your whole set. You are fat, we get it. You are retarded looking, okay we get. You are Jewish... OKAY, we get it.

Lesson over...