Edited By Al Bahmani
Acclaimed national touring Headliner Billy D. Washington takes time off his busy schedule to impart wisdom to the next generation of funny people.
5 Things Not To Say To a Veteran Comedian When Asking For Advice!
1. “Since you’ve been in the game a long time…”
There are a lot of comedians who’ve “been in the game a long time…” but their body of work may not suggest that longevity equals success. What they’ve done in terms of TV, festivals, “A” rooms, tours, podcasts, military tours, colleges, film, writing and producing is far more noteworthy than their start date.
2. “If you ever need an opener, I’ll do it”.
Of course you will! The amateur comics agenda is completely different from the vets agenda on the road. Vets want people with them who they enjoy hanging out with while being of some benefit. Openers/features want vets to expose them to the spoils of their hard work while rarely trying to position themselves as friends. On his own, several years ago Touchee Jackson drove to see me in Austin at Cap City. Only after I asked, he hung out with me for the entire weekend allowing our relationship to grow organically. Over the next few years I took him with me everywhere I could because he grew increasingly better while at the same time becoming one of my best friends. Eventually he was as much of a resource to me as I was to him because he used his social skills to cultivate relationships that we shared at our collective table. I don’t know if I’ll ever share such a connection with another comic. Ever.
3. “Because this is who I am…”
Seasoned comics don’t even know who they are most of the time, so an amateurs self definition is a huge waste of time within this particular conversation. Talking about who you are is a conversation best reserved for yourself because most of the amateur archetypes are basically the same. “I want to be able to work all audiences”, “I want to be different”, “…favoritism”, “…haters” etc. If you really want to pick a vets brain ask him specifics about an idea. Jokes are the foundation of a career, not how to get into a room.
4. “My favorite comic is…”
Narcissism is something we all share no matter how far we are along. Rattling off a list of comics to a comic you’re asking for advice is a sure fire way prematurely end a conversation. My advice? Ask your favorite comics for advice, and don’t forget to mention my name.
5. “I didn’t watch your set but…”
If you don’t have the common decency to watch a veterans set then please don’t be foolish enough to say it. If a guy is willing to offer you his time to help advance your career be classy enough to at least reference a bit or admire a perspective. If the vet doesn’t impress you enough to earn a compliment then why even ask for advice?
All in all 3 rules apply when trying to get the best out of veteran advice.
1. Be friendly
2. Be mildly complimentary (no ass kissing)
Hopefully you guys don’t take this the wrong way, I’m sincerely trying to help.
Billy D. Washington is a former Harris County Deputy Constable in Harris County, Texas (Houston) turned international touring headliner. He’s been seen on “Last Comic Standing” and “The Late Show With Craig Ferguson” and the movie “Arlington Road”. He is also an accomplished musician and playwright.