If this is your first time applying to a festival, or you need a few pointers on what we consider “overall quality” when judging festival submissions, we figured we would offer some suggestions that might help your submission stand out.
Make it your best: Sure, your bio has a lot of credits, you’ve opened for some great performers at local comedy clubs and you might even run some big shows. Then why send a video that doesn’t reflect your best comedy? This process is judged ONLY on the quality of the video you send us. Even if we’ve seen you crush first-hand, in order to make this process fair, we can only judge you on what you send us. Make sure this video reflects you at your best.
No intros: So many tapes start with an emcee giving an intro. The first thing our judges should see is you, not another comic. Start with your jokes.
Speaking of credits: They help, but they are not a guarantee. What helps is if your video shows us that you can make a room full of strangers laugh.
Ditch the notes: Five minutes of stand-up shouldn’t require several references to your notepad or your phone. Unless you’re Janeane Garofalo circa 1992 (or you have a bit that includes reading a letter), ditch the notebook.
Don’t pester us: We know you want to give the appearance that you’re a real go-getter but sending a slew of emails asking if you’ve been selected isn’t going to help your chances of getting into the festival. If anything, it can hurt. We have set a firm date for when we’ll notify everyone.
Dress up?: How you’re dressed doesn’t matter, so feel free to forego the tuxedo rental (unless that’s part of your usual stage getup). We’re WAY more concerned with the quality of your jokes and the quality of your submission tape. If you can kill in a toga, then kill in that toga.
Timeliness of video: You might have noticed that we require a new(ish) video. Everyone can have a good set, but if that last good set was 15 years ago, and you haven’t written solid material since then, we want to know that. We’re looking for comics who push themselves to write and stay relevant.
Make it professional: If you applied to a job, would you send a shabby, handwritten resume? If you’re serious about stand-up and you’ve reached the point of submitting to festivals, you should put some serious thought into having someone do a professional shoot of one (or several) of your sets. If you must rely on a cellphone video, make sure you have a tripod and it’s filmed close enough where we can see your face and movement.
Sound quality: Make sure we can hear you. Don’t have your friend hold the camera for you and talk over parts of your set. Make sure your recording device is somewhere where you aren’t going to hear table talk. Several submissions got poor scores last year because we could barely understand the jokes. If your best video has poor sound quality, it might be time to get some new video. Also, avoid recording your set at a show that is a big empty room. That no-audience echo is unmistakable. It’s also easy to spot “back-of-the-room comics” who only get laughs from the comics in the back of the room. We want to see if you can make an audience laugh. Not just your friends.
Be creative: When you judge hundreds of videos in a short period of time, it’s easy to pick up on overplayed tropes. Every comic leans on some from time to time, but the most common one we’ve seen is having an opening bit that centers around your appearance. It usually goes like this: “I know what you’re thinking, this (guy/gal) looks like (he/she) can (insert self-deprecating quip).” Whatever foot you decide to lead with is the most important. Why lead with being down on yourself? Confidence is always much more enjoyable to watch. Obviously, there are exceptions, but be creative.
Headshot: While headshots are not a make-or-break thing for submissions, it doesn’t hurt to take this part of the process serious as well. Having a good-quality set of headshots is going to help you in ways that extend beyond just our festival. There are great photographers in every corner of the world who are willing to help you with this (and a nice perk of getting in to the Flyover Comedy Festival is that we do offer some complimentary headshots for performers).
Nobody’s out to get you: If you didn’t get in, don’t take it personal. It’s not some great conspiracy. We get hundreds of submissions from all over the globe. We have to make a lot of difficult decisions, and some great comics don’t make the cut. The illuminati (or the local comedy scene) isn’t trying to keep you down.
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