Notes from Real People — Conversations with a Legit Standup & SNL Assistant

THE ALUMNI CONNECTION

This past weekend is the hallowed Johns Hopkins tradition of Alumni Weekend. Using the magic of email and bribery the Black and Blue Jay was able to get two LEGIT alumni to stop by and chat with the budding comedians on campus. Emphasis on the budding. Also emblematic of how un-comedic campus is — 8 people came.

BUT those who came were welcome to a font of knowledge. It was so cool!

THE PEOPLE

Dan and Luke

Standup/Writer/Actor/All Around Funny Guy: Dan Ahdoot!

SNL Writer’s Assistant: Luke Sand!

WHAT I LEARNED

1. MAKE STUFF

That was a point that Dan and Luke harped on religiously. We’re at a point in time where all it takes is an iPhone and some elbow grease to spit out an impressively put together product. If you want to write for the screen, get some friends together and make a short. If you want to be a standup, go to open mics and record your set. If you want to write for late night, slap your own show together. That’s how you get noticed.

2. BE YOURSELF

Right, how trite are these? But they’re cliche because it’s good advice. Be yourself here means that you should write what you know. Dan got his lit agent after he wrote a pilot based on his college experience. It won contests and generated heat. Why? Because only he could tell that story, and he told it well.

3. BE SHOCKING

This one may hit as a bit cheap, but another great point is that you can generate buzz by being totally out of the PC zone. There is a story about a FRIENDS script from over a decade ago called ‘The One Where Everyone Gets AIDS.’ It’s a fucking legend. Why are you hearing about it today? Because it was shocking. You don’t have to be a dick or even be inappropriate — you can just be fucking out there and still make a splash.

4. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LA AND NY

This one was surprising — “Don’t go to LA until you’re asked to.” This one may be more for standup. Apparently New York is just a crueler, trial-by-fire atmosphere, and struggling against the adversity of the audience is the only way to grow and really hit your peak. In LA comedy is often an event — you’ve gotta pick your tickets, print ’em, get all gussied up, drive out there, etc. New York will knock you down a peg, which will make you try harder. A bit of a bummer for me, as I’m LA-bound in a few weeks, but such is life!

What would you ask your comedy mentors?

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