This week, I’m blogging about and with Patricia Draznin, one of the very best humor writers/essayists I know. Her work is clever, smart, edgy, and unlike anything else I’ve read. So how does a writer like Patricia promote herself? Before I share some of her strategies (and challenges) here’s a little bit of background: Patricia is a corporate writer turned freelancer and, since the mid 1990s, she’s focused on comedy. She writes a humor column in a local weekly in Fairfield, Iowa, called the Oh Zone. She also has a blog page on The Huffington Post. Patricia has studied and performed stand-up comedy as well. The list goes on and here’s the final part of my Q & A with Patricia Draznin (thank you, Patricia):
Leslie: How do people hear about your work? That is, without knowing your URL, how would an editor find you?
Patricia: Not easily. Occasionally someone will find me by Googling humor writers. Once someone read one of my film reviews online, which linked to my web site, and she hired me for live entertainment at a social function. But I’m not high profile, which my husband reminds me of often. I’m still at the “best kept secret” stage.
Leslie: Your bio on the site mentions that you have performed stand-up comedy. That sounds terrifying to me. What was that like and how does that experience inform your writing?
Patricia: Back in the 1990s, a guy came through Fairfield, the small Iowa town where I’ve been living. He was The Music Man but selling stand-up comedy classes. He was a poor stand-up but a good teacher. He taught several six-week classes, which culminated in a live comedy show. He charged admission and kept the profits while we did all the work. But the point is, he turned out some fine comedians who continued to write comedy together and perform our own shows. It was fabulous.
I took his class to hone my humor writing, not to perform. But by the end of the class, it felt more natural to perform my routine than to file it away. I knew it was good. And I always liked public speaking. But memorizing is not my strong suit, though I have since learned a way around that. I was terrified but I had, how-you-say, a killer routine, and I had a good time delivering it.
Unlike humor writing stand-up involves delivery. The greatest material in the world will die if delivery is weak. While average material can succeed with an exceptional performance. Then again, if the audience is too small or the microphones aren’t working right… let’s just say that it doesn’t hurt to pray before a performance. A whole lot of details have to come together for it to work. Stand-up is terrifying, death-defying, and exhilarating. It’s the comedian’s version of skydiving.
I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to say, “I’d love to talk further but the limo is waiting to take me to The Letterman Show.” Hey, it could happen. Right?