Friday, December 21, 2007

VOTE FOR ME IN COMEDY CENTRAL'S STAND-UP SHOWDOWN

Hey everyone,

I'm holding strong in 2nd place in Comedy Central's Stand-up Showdown with just FOUR DAYS LEFT TO VOTE!!!

They take the Top 100 comedians and let people vote on their favorite from now until 12Noon on Sunday, January 27th. As soon as the contest ends, they countdown the Top 20 Vote getters. So I need your help. There's several things you can do.

Click on this button to take you to Comedy Central's Website. Look for me on the front page in the "Top 20", or if I've slipped out, just go to the "S" page and click "Vote Now" under my picture.





You can also vote for me by texting the words STANDUP SNEED to 44636.

Secondly:
After you vote, you'll see a button that says "Get Your Comedians Button". By clicking on that, it'll give you the code to paste the above image onto your webpage, MySpace/Facebook page, or blog.

If you have trouble with it, or can just want a link to paste into an email that takes people right to the contest page, that link is:

http://www.comedycentral.com/events/susd/index.jhtml

Lastly:
Please pass this on to everyone you know. I'm in this against people who have millions of fans, so I need all the help I can get. Thanks in advance everybody.

Josh
www.joshsneed.com

Friday, December 14, 2007

Quitting The Day Job

(Updated from Dec. '03)

Sitting in my cubicle, I twirled a pen in my hand staring blankly at my computer screen. The walls which once held sheets of printer paper quoting my favorite authors or funny emails that got passed around the office were empty. There's the spot where the list of acronyms that the company used once hung. In a small box on my desk behind me you'll find all of the toys and keepsakes that were one strewn all over this tiny office. I look again at my computer screen, this time at the bottom right corner. July 13, 2001. It's almost 4pm. I wonder if Friday the 13th was the right day to take such a big leap. We'll soon find out. My boss awakens me out of my daze. "We're going to miss you around here. Good luck and stay in touch. Now go on home." And that was it. I turned in my employee badge, and said adios to the corporate giant that had funded my life for the last few years. It was time to move on.

I still can't believe it's been 6.5 years since I quit a day job that most people go to college and hope to get one day. I remember the skepticism on a lot of faces when they'd ask, "You're quitting Procter and Gamble to tell jokes for a living?" Though it's an obvious risk, it's nearly impossible to explain to people the passion I have for what I do. I meet many comics who are bitter, hate working the road, hate the crowds, hate the bookers. While I also get downtrodden at points, all it takes is a simple reminder that I GET to pay my bills by telling jokes. The traveling can be tiresome, the loneliness of not being with friends or family you've known your entire life can be saddening, but at the end of the day, it's worth it.

Whether it was standing in front of The Alamo in San Antonio, looking up at The Space Needle in Seattle, taking a ride to the top of the St. Louis Arch, or freezing my butt off in 40 below temperatures in Alaska, I seem to have the same epiphany over and over. As my friend Mark Sweeney would say, "This is some life we lead." My job is the greatest job in the world. Sometimes you're not feeling well, sometimes you're tired from traveling, sometimes the airline loses your luggage, sometimes the crowd just isn't digging you, sometimes your only friend is your laptop or cell phone. But at the end of the day, it's worth it.

In July 2001, I said goodbye to the steady paycheck and was lucky to have two weeks per month booked, for the next six months. Little did I know, 2002 would be a benchmark year for me. I had the most wonderful person in the business, in my corner, Janet George. After my first time coming through the South Bend Funny Bone in December of 2001, we clicked. She'd considered managing someone, I was looking for management. We thought 2002 would be a good trial for her to manage, and me to work. While we didn't see eye-to-eye on everything, but she busted her butt and I worked 50 out of 52 weeks that year. What 2002 did for my act and career is immeasureable. And it is ALL thanks to Janet. She worked so hard to get me in these clubs and opened countless doors. I can never repay her for what she's done for me as a person, and my career. 50 weeks on the road is a lot, sometimes being gone from home for 5 weeks at a time, living out of a suitcase, but at the end of the day, it's worth it.

In early 2003, I submitted a tape to the Comedy Central Laugh Riots and was picked to head to Miami, FL for the semi-finals. One of the judges that night was John MacDonald, who worked for the company that represented Jeff Foxworthy, and the other comics on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Thanks to John and the other judges, I was fortunate enough to make it to the finals in Los Angeles. Before heading to LA, Janet and I agreed to part ways as she felt she'd taken me as far as she could. I was moving to LA the week after the finals of the contest, and she wanted me to be free to sign with someone out in LA who could take me to the next step. HOW COOL IS THAT!? That tells you what kind of person she is, and it's easy to see why everyone that knows her, adores her. I didn't place in the contest, and interest from the industry folk who were there that night seemed minimal at best. I wanted to win, but didn't. But I knew my journey was just beginning.

After living in Los Angeles with best friend, and fellow comic, Jamie Lissow, my career continued to grow. Jamie and I toured together all summer doing stand-up/improv shows in some of our favorite clubs. I think my act came a long way because friends like Jamie, Mark Gross, and Greg Warren have all made me strive to improve it. I'm trying to weed out "easy laughs" and become more proud of my act. After working in South Bend with another friend and very funny guy, James Johann (keep an eye out for him), I learned that he had signed with John MacDonald. He offered to put in a good word for me, and followed through the very next day. I scheduled a meeting with John and JP Williams after sending a copy of my tape, and after two very long meetings of brainstorming and getting to know what each other's visions were, John asked me if I wanted to join the Parallel family. I couldn't have been happier. John is like Janet in that everyone likes him. That's so rare in this business, and I'm honored to have a chance to work with him and all of the people in the office at Parallel. They're amazing and I can't wait to see where my path is headed now that he's at the helm.

So here I am, 6.5 years later, still a full time comic. I look back on what's happened since then. I've played clubs from Alaska to Florida. I've visited many national monuments and historic sites. I've worked with comedians who were movie and television stars. I've gotten boos. I've gotten a standing ovation. I've moved from Cincinnati, the only place I've ever lived, to Hollywood. I've been sick. I've been cheated. I've laughed. I've cried. I've laid on the beach. I've walked in 40 below temperatures. I've loved. I've lost. I can't count how many friends I've made. Comics, club staffs, audience members who wanted to make sure "the comic" had fun in their town. Taxi drivers, airline personnel, even the nice woman in Little Rock who rented me a car without my driver's license. For every person that didn't think I was funny, to those who said to me on their way out, "Thank you, I needed that." And that's the kicker folks, right there, plain and simple. People need comedy. Whether it's someone trying to get over a loved one they've lost...or someone that just had a bad day at work. People need comedy. And it's that mindset I do my best to keep everyday. Sure there are times when I want the old life back, only because of it's simplicity, but I'm quick to realize how lucky I am to do what I do...and get paid for it. I've always been the type of person who hates to wonder, "What if...". That's why I chose to do this for a living. Will I be a big star someday? Who knows? Will I just be a regular comic that only works clubs and never hits it big? Couldn't tell ya. All I know is that I have the right people in my corner at work, and at home. Who could ask for more?

So in 2008, I ask that everyone do what you love. Be bold in your decisions, and never settle. I'm living proof that you can do whatever you want, as long as you're driven to see it through. Sure the road isn't perfect for me, it's not perfect for anyone. But I can look anyone in the face who questions my decision, and say that after the cancelled flights, mixed reviews, sickness, loneliness, and failed relationships that couldn't handle the strain, all it takes is one person to say, "You were awesome."...and at the end of the day...it's worth it.

Happy Holidays and New Year everyone...see you out there.


Josh

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Lemonade Anyone?

When life hands you lemons…make lemonade right?

Well what if life doesn't give you any sugar? Or a pitcher? How about a spoon? Maybe some napkins? We'll need ice. No one likes warm lemonade.

If I sound bitter, it's not because of the lack of fructose in my citrus drink. It's because every time I get a little too far ahead of myself, a little too "big for my britches", God rings my room with a wake-up call.

Tomorrow morning my Comedy Central special will air for the fifth time this year. It's amazing to think that in February of 2008, it will have been 10 years since my first open mic night. Ten years since I stepped foot on stage for the first time with a dream that one day I'd have my own 30-min special. I find myself in a hotel in Richmond, VA after just closing two relatively full shows at a club at which I've worked hard to move up the ranks to the status of "Headliner". But it all means nothing.

A few minutes after the last person left the club tonight, I got a phone call from my parents to inform me that my dad has cancer…again. It's in a different spot this time and there are a lot of uncertainties. But boy does it suck. I feel so helpless being in another city, not being able to give him a big hug. To comfort him and my mother is the only thing that matters to me. To see my sister and reassure that we'll all get through this together…again.

I've had an amazing life. It gets better all the time. I'm 30 years old and I've been able to accomplish a lot of goals I set for myself. But I couldn't have done ONE thing if it weren't for a lot of people. Like my first manager, Janet, who helped me get into so many clubs and get the stage time necessary to progress as a comic. John MacDonald, the best manager you could ever want. He's opened doors for me I never thought possible. And of course, all of the people at Comedy Central who've been so kind to me over the years.

But that first time I ever went on stage, my dad was there, proud as always. My family gets all of the credit (or blame) for making me who I am today. There isn't a thing more important on this Earth than to make them proud. Make them feel like they raised a man who can do anything because he knows that they believe in him.

There's an unconditional love that on a DAILY basis I see that others don't have in their lives. Whether it was coaching my Tee Ball team, watching me get eliminated in the first round of the spelling bee (see: coarsely), or being there for that basketball game in 7th grade where I literally got into the game with 1 SECOND left on the clock. (Thanks Coach Decker, you're a real pal.) But to my parents, it didn't matter. They were just as proud as if I'd hit the game winning shot.

So while I can't thank them for basketball skills, I can thank them for demonstrating more important qualities in life, like seeing something through to the end. Or having pride in whatever you put your name on it, because you're only as good as your name. They taught me diligence, and knowing that when you quit, you're not just letting yourself down, but others who were counting on you.

And that quality is so important to me tonight. I know if anyone gets news like my dad got yesterday…again, that they're not going to quit. Their faith in God, the strength of our family, and a literal "never say die" attitude are things I've witnessed in every one of my 30 years on this Earth. And that knowledge is what I need right now, being so far away from them. If I'm able to sleep tonight, it's because I know that no one back home is giving up. So that means I can't either.

And I won't give up. I can't hang my head and wonder why this has to happen to such a good person…again. I can't assume that I love my dad more than anyone else whose father has or had cancer…even though I do. I have to keep pressing on, do my job, and know that it's out of my hands.

I'm not even sure why I'm writing this for everyone to read. Maybe I just needed to vent. Maybe it's to remind everyone how fragile life is, and how mixed up our priorities can be at time. There's a million clich├ęs that could go here, but I'll wrap it up. First of all, say a prayer for my dad and my family. Send some positive thoughts our way, we need them.

I guess it's just good to be reminded, even because of an awful of a circumstance as this is, that the most important things in my life aren't things I've done. They're actually opportunities that God has blessed me with, and the people who've inspired or encouraged me to take advantage of those opportunities. And there's been no greater gift, no better feeling in life, no list of career accomplishments that could even hold a candle to the love and strength of my family. Yeah, tonight life handed my dad some lemons. But you can best believe that we'll all be there right next to him with a pitcher, a spoon, some ice, and a whole bunch of sugar for him…again. Lemonade anyone?

Josh

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Than Meets The Retina

As comedians, one of things we pride ourselves most on is our originality. Our ability to craft a joke that no one else has written. Sure, there are those out there who blatantly steal jokes, there's parallel thought, and more than one person has written the same joke on numerous occasions. In the comedy business, being labeled a thief is the worst.


That being said, I always get a kick out of blatant copyright infringement in other industries. I love looking at the name some grocery stores give their knockoff cereal brands. Instead of "Rice Krispies", you'll find "Krispy Rice". Right next to "Frosted Flakes", there's "Frosty Flakes of Corn". I think my all time favorite was "Lucky Trinkets".


Anyway, I was looking for something to rent at the video store recently and I saw this gem:




Transmorphers!? Are you kidding me!? I haven't watched this movie yet, but I wonder what it could be about. What kind of cojones do you have to have to approve or write this movie? I've pitched ideas for TV shows and my manager tells me, "That sounds something like a silent film I saw and it's been done."

What's the pitch here? In the same summer as Transformers debuts and breaks box office records, some guy was in a board room, "Ok, um, I have an idea for a movie. These robots can turn into everyday machines and they want to have a war on Earth."

"Um, John...that was a cartoon and is now a major motion picture....LET'S MAKE IT!"

What's next from this company...

"This Christmas, it's the story of a little boy who is left behind while his family goes on vacation. Watch him ward off two burgalars in this hilarious original film, "Home By Myself"."

"Next summer, it's the story of a Vietnam Veteran whos country turns their back on him when he gets home from the war. Be sure to watch, "Born the Day After July 3."

Ok...one more

"A Marine is killed by two fellow soldiers who were just following orders given to them by a controversial General. Lots of drama awaits in..."A Few Good Guys"."

Hope to see you out there,

Josh

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Favorite Commercials

There are some commercials out there right now that make me laugh every time I watch them. However, when I've gone to talk about them to some of my friends, they haven't seen them. So I'd like to put out there the following links, hoping people will get as much of a chuckle out of them as I have.

Hope to see you out there,

Josh

Commercial 1: Snickers Commercial - Just plain hilarious. Lord knows I've always thought Snickers deserved a love song.

Commercial 2: Chad Johnson ESPN - The best player in the league shows why even his opponents get a kick out of him.

Commercials 3 & 4: Avia Roadkill - These might be two of my favorite commercials of all time...and I have no idea why.

"Drafting"

"Respect"