The year was 2005. Young upstart Mariah Carey had a Billboard chart-topping hit in “We Belong Together,” Heroes hadn’t disappointed EVERYONE yet, and Google Newsgroups with names like “alt.comedy.standup” were all rage. It was a scary time for most, but an enlightening era for guys like C.J. Toledano, a fresh-faced stand-up comedian who knew what he wanted to do but didn’t know how to get there. So he asked his Newsgroup for advice, as people did in the long-ago darkness known as 2005.
In a current-day piece for Steamroller Chicago, Toledano, who later went on to write for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (SPOILER?), recalls, “There weren’t that many active members, but among the regulars, was Louis, who responded to my first ever question.”
And that little Louis grew up to be none other than Louis C.K.
My name is C.J. and I’m an aspiring comedian. I started back in May at a room here in Erie, PA called Jr.s Last Laugh. I’m in love with comedy and since then I’ve done open mics everywhere I can. Since then I’ve auditioned for the Cleveland Improv (got it, but they’re not too picky), did an open mic at the Comix Cafe, and I’m moving to Pittsburgh on the 25th of this month and got a spot in an open mic at The Improv there on the 31st. What I really wanted to ask was if any of you experienced comics have any advice, pointers, tips, tricks etc that you’d be willing to share. Being that I just started I love looking for inspiration wherever I can find it. I’d love to hear about anything, from how the business works, what to look for and even horror stories.
Thanks in advance! (Via)
And Louis’s response, in part:
i started when i was 17. i got a good head start, skill-building wise, but I sometimes think I missed out on a lot of “Life” that I could be drawing from now. Try to go to college and get some knowlege. If you don’t do that, make a deliberate attempt to read a lot and educate yourself, so that you don’t just becauase a siv for American pop culture. If you spend all your time on stage talking about the cover of People magazine, you won’t go far, you won’t last, and you’ll be bored before you get good.
Take advantage of the head start you’re giving yourself by stopping as often as possible to live your life, explore America and grow as a person. When you go to some shit town to do a one-nighter, get there early and walk around before the show. Watch people. Observe and remember.
Go on stage as often as possible. Any stage anywhere. Don’t listen to anyone about anything. Just keep getting up there and try to be funny, honest and original. (Via)
Read the rest of the letter here.