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Thursday, January 16, 2014

How to Get In The Cape Fear Comedy Festival

How do you get chosen to perform at the Cape Fear Comedy Festival? 
Simple.  Be Awesome. Submit. More about that in a few paragraphs.

First of all, let's talk about our decision making process.  All submissions are loaded into an Google Docs spreadsheet that makes the comics info easy to look over and link easy to click on and watch.  Only myself (Matt Ward) and my festival co-founder Timmy Sherrill watch the videos and decide who will be in the festival. We both have booked and produced hundreds of comedy shows all over the Eastern United States. 

The Selection Process Most often we watch videos and look at submissions in spurts as not to burn out and start giving the thumbs down to submissions without giving them proper attention. The first step is for each of us to go through and select yes or no next to each submission. We then take all the submissions that got a 'yes' from both of us and we put those in their own spreadsheet.  We then go back and remove all the double 'no' votes and put them in a separate spreadsheet (Which we go over another time after about a week to make sure).  This leaves us with a selection of submissions that Timmy said 'no' to and I said 'yes' to and vice versa.  We then use chat to make our case for each one we feel strongly about or simply give up the ones we don't feel that strongly about.  This further reduces the overall list. Once this is done we step away. 

Sometimes it is a day or sometimes almost a week before we come back to the submissions.  By this time we have a more firm idea which venues and how much stage time we will have available so we know how many comics we can book.  We want each comic to get the chance to be on stage every night they are at the festival. 

What do we look for in a submission? When booking comedians for the Cape Fear Comedy Festival, it is important to us that we are choosing comedians that will bring a unique experience to the audiences. We approach each submission with an open mind. Timmy and I can tell almost immediately, within the first few moments of an act, if the comic/troupe fits with the festival. Although we never quit that quickly as we have to give them the benefit of the doubt and watch more of the video. If I we are on the fence with a comic, we will watch the video three or four times during different times of the day. That way, we feel that we are giving them a fair shot, and it's not based on the mood that we were in when we originally watched it.  

We look for a unique style, smart comedy, and audience reactions. We also don't just watch the original demo, but we will watch other sets we find online. This gives me a better idea of how a comedian handles different audiences and/or venues. We don't book our festival based on credits, references or time in the business. We book our festival based on the gut feeling that you will interact well with the audiences, the staff at the venues and most importantly, the other comedians at festival. We know that this positive interaction will result in everyone having an amazing time and connecting.  All three connection points have to be there in our minds before we say yes. Audience, Staff and Fellow Comics.

So what can I do to get in the festival??

Submit the most professional video you can, perform as well on that video as you feel you are currently capable of, and make sure you include the pertinent information in your brief bio. Don't spend the time listing credit after credit, we can google that shit. Spend your time telling us where you are from and exactly who you are.

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