Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Do You Think He's Named After The Hilton Sisters?

One of the questions most often asked in interviews is, "How did you start out in comedy?" (Of course, I'm sure a fair few people want to ask, "are you ever planning to start out in comedy?" but that rarely comes up in interviews).

The answer to the question is, I'm afraid, rather dull. Because like everyone else I know that's involved in comedy, you start out by doing it for free and keep doing it until someone pays you. (Fingers crossed, that'll be happening for me some day soon.)

That's it. There aren't really any short cuts. People always want short cuts. New acts often want to know how to get an agent. The chances are that any act asking how to get an agent doesn't really need an agent. And when they're at a stage where an agent can help them, they'll find there are agents there offering to help. That's how it works.

I feel like an old man typing this. But I was once a 19 year old stand-up who thought he needed an agent. I was wrong. I didn't. Not when I'd done so few gigs.

The only things you need to do at that stage are to write and to perform. As much as you can. And the places you'll be performing at aren't the kind of places that deal with agents. Or rather, they aren't the kind of places that agents want to deal with.

And the kind of places that agents do deal with aren't interested in you because you're not ready for them. So add a third thing to the list: write, perform and spend time on the phone looking for opportunities to perform. Be your own agent. That's pretty much the only advice you can give someone who's starting out. Work as much as you can. You get better. And as you get better, other things will come to you. (Fingers crossed, that'll be happening for me some day soon.)

I apologise for the avuncular, old-man tone of this blog. You didn't ask for advice and it's arrogant to assume anyone would just roll up here looking for it. It was prompted by something I saw on twitter yesterday. Like I say, people always want shortcuts.

It started when I received a tweet last night from @TheFunnyWhale. The tweet said, "u guys gotta book @TheNickyParis. 19 yr old comic in nyc who is BLOWING UP he's done a bunch of radio interviews check his page."

It seemed kind of odd. It piqued my interest. But not so much my interest in Nicky Paris. I looked up @TheFunnyWhale.

The account described itself as "promoting the funniest people on twitter." Uh huh. I wasn't sure if that meant they were working for some comedians or were just someone trying to help out people they'd seen and liked? Their last twelve or more tweets had all been sent to people who host radio shows and all said the exact same thing so it was obvious they were pretty keen on this Nicky Paris guy. But what about the tweets before that? Who else had they been tweeting about? Who else had they deemed worth promoting? There were hundreds and hundreds of tweets. With identical words. Each and every one said, "FOLLOW 1 OF THE BEST Comedians on twitter my pal @THENICKYPARIS u'll LOVE his tweets! ILL FOLLOW U! Tweets are perfect 4 RT"

That was it. 600 tweets telling people to follow Nicky Paris and a dozen or so telling radio shows to book him. And no other tweets. Wow. It seemed fairly obvious that Nicky Paris was tweeting as TheFunnyWhale. Which made me chuckle. I tweeted back:

TheFunnyWhale didn't seem to like the insinuation. They replied that they went to school with him, were a big fan of his and had no other connection to him.

At which point they told me I was being rude and blocked me.

Now at this stage it might look like I was being a bit of a bully. He's obviously just a 19 year old kid, looking for a short cut and creating a separate account to shill for him might have seemed like a good idea. It's no biggie. There's no need to give him a hard time. Pfft. I was only teasing him.

But it turns out there's more. Lots more.

And these aren't the only ones. As well as TheFunnyMouse1, TheFunnyLips, TheFunnyCupcake, TheFunnyDiamond and TheFunnyPeanut There's also TheFunnyCoconut, TheFunnyMustach, TheFunnyWitch, TheFunnyCamera, TheFunnyHeart, TheFunnyFrog1, TheFunnyDuck1, TheFunnyHouse, TheFunnyShrimp, TheFunnyCherry, TheFunnyDragon, TheFunnyTooth, TheFunnyCheetah, TheFunnyCroc, TheFunnyCake, TheFunnyKitty, TheFunnyBaby and more. Many, many more. There are loads of similarly named accounts all tweeting the same thing over and over and over and over. They get closed down occasionally, but new accounts get created and so it goes on. And on. And on and on and on.

I can't think of a worse way to promote comedy. He might be brilliant. He might be shit. Comedy is always a matter of taste and I'm on side with anyone who gets on stage and gives it a fair go.

But spam is, in its nature, insincere. Spam is dishonest. These are qualities that destroy comedy. Comedy thrives on sincerity and honesty. Spam tries to con us. Spam is used to sell dodgy goods. It's used by people who claim they're selling insurance/high-end-watches/mortgages/medicines/porn but are actually doing no such thing. Smart people learn to spot spam and they don't trust it.

If there's one thing worse than a comedian tweeting "Follow me, I'm the best!" it's surely one who pays others to tweet it for him. I do wish Nicky Paris a bright future. I suspect that's more likely to happen when he stops looking for the short cut.

FEB 11. EDIT TO ADD THE FOLLOWING: The comments section on this post has been fascinating. Thanks to everyone who's contributed. One of the things that Nicky's supporters, Alexes and Kristy (who might well be Nicky - but you never know) offer as evidence for the defence, so to speak, is that Nicky gets retweeted a lot. I'm not sure how that makes spamming okay... but I think the argument is that the spam works and the RTs are proof that people like him.

So I'm indebted to one correspondent (who wishes to be anonymous) who's been in touch to point out the connection between Princess_Peach7 and the hero of our piece, the spammer.

As the picture shows, it seems there's a whole lot more self-interest behind those RTs than there is love for Nicky.


Ross Eden said...

this sort of thing has been used by up and coming dj's and club promoters for many many years. About ten years ago it actually worked for one or two people, but as soon as real social networking grew, it became far too obvious, who was playing silly buggers and people got found out! When it was message boards which generated most social content, rather than sites like twitter and Facebook, it was easy to hide behind message board usernames and have a conversation with yourself about how good you are, thank god it seems to have stopped now though, looks like some sort of genius (?!) up and coming comedian thinks hes found a new idea. Little did he know about DG's penchant for random internet searchery, if searchery is even a word, but i think it should be.....

As with any arts / performance based business, you have to have substance, passion for what you do and a good foundation, the followers and fans will come, unless youre shit obviously. Otherwise you just as well jump on Xfactor and balance a turtle on your head or something.... at least you get 5 mins of fame that way for being on a modern day freak show.......

Dougie Lawson said...

If I try to post the same tweet twice then twitter blocks me. If I change one word then Twitter lets me through.

Perhaps Twitter needs to change that algorithm. They should compare one tweet with the next and assign a duplicity index to it. If the index gets too high they block the userid, pending investigation by their spam team.

Alexes said...

Oh so you wanna delete comments now huh Dave? That right there shows how jealous and bitter you are to delete comments that defend Nicky Paris.

You're a L O S E R!

Kristy said...

Why did my comment get deleted!? You can dish it out but you can't take it Dave. You want to ignore the facts and you're giving a one sided view on him. He has a lot of friends that are not happy and we won't let our friend be WRONGLY portrayed. #TeamParis #hellyerrr

Alexes said...

I love Nicky Paris!

Alexes said...

I love Nicky Paris!

Alexes said...

I love Nicky Paris!

Alexes said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

this is pretty embarassing Dave, this is what you spend your time doing?

Alexes said...

I love Nicky Paris!

He's one of my best friends and he deserves all that he's accomplished. He works so hard. How many 19 year old's do you know that performs at established comedy clubs all over NYC and gives radio interviews from his college dorm room? I 'm sure you'll delete this comment too because you hate to be proven totally wrong.

Get a life!

Kristy said...

NP doesn't even probably care. Dave you're only making yourself look bad by this post and tweeting about him for hours on end. I was reading tweets people sent to you asking why you care so much. I never heard of you until I saw NP tweet at you and you look like a fucking jackass

Anonymous said...

By you posting this is getting his name out there even more which is ultimately what he is aiming for. You made a smart marketing strategy get a lot of attention and you did him more good than harm. Pretty dumb for you to post this no? The kid is what 19? And he has a comedian from another country tweeting at him for HOURS and posting blog articles about him? I think he's doing alright for himself.

Dave Gorman said...

I deleted a few comments that contained straight out insults - and also a few that came from different names but the same IP address.

If you want to follow Nicky and enjoy his comedy, that's great. I'm not telling you not to.

But I think most people would regard spam as antisocial - and so someone that pays for 12 or more spambots to spam for them would also appear, y'know, kind of antisocial.

I started by lightly teasing TheFunnyWhale for transparently being Nicky in disguise and TheFunnyWhale started by denying any connection and, y'know, being flat out dishonest.

But because I did, a lot of people started contacting me to tell me more and more about the spam. Comedy journalists were telling me that it was amongst the most annoying and persistent spam they get on twitter.

That seems to me to be counterproductive. For Nicky.

I'm not critical in my post of Nicky or his material. Only of his being responsible for spam.

Telling me you love him and that he's going places and that I'm a hater isn't a response to the simple issue of spam. He pays for a dozen identities to pretend they're not him and to recommend him. I think that's weird. If you don't think that's weird, that's fine. But I'm sure he accepts that the collateral damage of spam is that some people don't like it and will, from time to time, say so.

And to those offering up, "Is this what you do with your time now?" arguments. Um... yeah. I look at the internet. I analyse the world around me. I comment on stuff I like and on stuff I don't. I've blogged about spam before. I no doubt will again. I find it fascinating and depressing in equal measure. Go figure.

I'll repeat: I'm on side with anyone that gets on a stage and tries their hand at comedy. I wish everyone well. I hope Nicky is successful. I simply don't think spam is the best place for his (or anyone else's) creative energy.

Josh said...

I'm really impressed by this honestly, Dave. I watched his stand up and it was actually pretty hilarious

Anonymous said...

Ha ha... it seems pretty likely that Alexes, Kristy, Anonymous and Josh are really Nicky Paris.

He does have a track-record for pretending to be other people who are fans of Nicky Paris, after all.

philboxall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emma Spreadbury said...

Wowee, the crazy world of Nicky Paris. What an odd way to conduct your business.

Kristy said...

We're all his friends and in college. This article is so pathetic, he's booking radio interviews. He's followed by a handful of celebrity accounts, and was the top tweet for a bunch of trending topics. He's successful for 19 you all can f off

Dave Gorman said...

Hi Kristy/Nicky-Paris-really.
I'm glad that he/you is/are doing well. I'm glad that you like him/yourself. That's all great.

I'm just not so keen on the spam.

That's the only thing I've criticised. I'm sorry you think that's pathetic of me.

I guess if not-liking-spam is pathetic in your eyes we'll just have to agree to differ on that one.

Alexes said...

Really? Like why do you people care so much about how Nicky Paris markets himself? Does it affect your everyday living? Yeah, didn't think so

Oh, and I'm an actual person. Not Nicky Paris. He's a professional and doesn't have time to waste on this petty shit like you "adults" do.

Buh Byeee

Kristy said...

Dave I literally have no idea who you are. I'm a real person, a lot of people are angry at you and laughing at how pathetic you are. Nicky posted about you on the internet before and me and my friends saw. You have a lot of time on your handsy. you're so pathetic and not to mention a grown man. We got our friend, you may be somebody in the UK but you're NOTHING here. Asshole for real. give us your # and we'll call you up asshole

Dave Gorman said...

Alexes said:Really? Like why do you people care so much about how Nicky Paris markets himself? Does it affect your everyday living? Yeah, didn't think so

Me: Well spam in general is annoying. And when an account spams you and you block it but the next day an identical account spams you the same thing and you block it but the next day there's a new one doing the same thing it does, in a small way, affect you. Because that's what being annoyed is. An affect. So um yeah... that's how.

But why do you care so much about my opinion on spam? Does it affect your everyday living? Yeah, didn't think so.

AlexesOh, and I'm an actual person. Not Nicky Paris. He's a professional and doesn't have time to waste on this petty shit like you "adults" do.

Me Right oh. Only you can see how easy it is to believe that a man who creates fake personas to promote himself online might also, y'know, create fake personas to, um... defend the creating of fake personas online online. If you see what I mean. It's certainly hard to argue that he doesn't have time for this "petty shit" when that's pretty much exactly what he does with his time. That is what this is about after all.

Like I say, I think we should agree to differ. You/he can spam. I won't like it. It's petty. I wouldn't get so worked up about it if I were you.

Dave Gorman said...

Hi Kristy. I think you must have missed the part where I said we should agree to differ.

I'm fine with the fact that you think spam is great and cool. I think you should probably be fine with the fact that I think it's annoying. Deal?

Alex said...

In response to Kristy's comment of: " may be somebody in the UK but you're NOTHING here."

I'm pretty sure there are a fair few Americans who appreciate Dave's work. Not the least are those he supported on his journey across the states where he only used the services of small businesses. Let's not forget the numerous American Dave Gormans too. This isn't an attempt to stir the argument, rather a point to deter Kristy from flat-out abusing someone for having an opinion.

I'd also like to add that Dave has mentioned several times how he's in support of Nicky Paris having successful career. If anything, this blog post is representative of Dave suggesting that Nicky shouldn't degrade himself or his work through the means of spam.

Looking forward to your show on Sunday!

Mr. B said...

My two penneth:

Dave is of course right: from the point of view of the recipient, spam is obviously counter-productive for the sender/subject.

I also agree that there is no shortcut or substitute for good content -and you get that from hard slog. Nothing more to it.

However, and this is a big caveat, I do think the internet is a fast evolving and therefore confusing place for young people who for whatever reason are hungry to promote themselves or their work. A lot of these mistakes are made out of naivete.

It's very tempting. You're audience is out there somewhere waiting. I think the internet creates a false sense that you can just reach out there and grab them.

That's the mistake. You don't go to them. You make something worthwhile, and let them come to you.

That's pretty much what Dave is saying: if you build it, they will come.

Two examples:

I was in a band right around the time that MySpace blew up. It was confusing and it seemed like some kind of new opportunity had opened up for unknown bands, so we, like a lot of people spent hours manually sending out 'friend requests' to people who liked similar music. We didn't think of it as spam, but that's basically what all those bands on MySpace in '06-'09 were doing.

We had 18,000 followers. Hooray. Out of those, maybe 30 might come to a Central London gig. Why so few? I do think it was two things:

1. The content wasn't good enough -too much time spent self-promoting, not enough making the music better.

2. The way we had promoted ourselves lent us no credibility. People didn't feel like they had discovered us, they felt they had been solicited by us. Hard to form affection/respect for a band that begs you to like them.

That was a few years ago, in my twenties. Turned thirty last year and I'm working on writing fiction (yes, yes, Dave I know, I read Googlewhack!). The point is, I write 1,000 words a day, trying to get better, get good and no one knows about it except my wife (and now you, I guess). I won't show anyone my writing until I've put in the 10,000 hours or so it takes to get to the stage where my work can speak for itself.

It feels good to just be focusing on the content, not worrying how to sell it.

Sorry I'm so long winded, this just struck a chord with me personally.

One last thing: anyone trying to excel in any kind of oversubscribed field would do well to read Malcolm Gladwell's excellent book Outliers. There you'll find a lot of stuff that backs up what Dave's saying.

I'd also recommend it for Nicky Paris if he reads this ;)

Anonymous said...

Interesting post and comments. Especially the ones of Nicky pretending to be someone else.

Kristy said...

Idk why people keep saying these comments are Nicky. Me and Alexes both attend university together and were together when writing the comments. Stop throwing dirt on someone's innocent name

BobbyF said...

@Kristy: I know why people are saying these comments are Nicky. It's because Nicky has a proven track record of pretending to be other people in order to enhance his own online reputation.

It's interesting that you think the suggestion that you and Alexes are really Nicky is "throwing dirt on someone's innocent name" because it suggests that you think pretending-to-be-someone-else-to-post-comments-about-oneself is a dirty thing to do.

And I'm glad you've finally come round to our way of thinking. It is bad of Nicky to pretend he's not TheFunnypeanut, TheFunnyMouse1, TheFunnyCupcake etc. That, as you rightly put it Kristy, is dirty of him. Thanks for coming on board.

Kristy said...

@BobbyF Being someone who knows him personally. All those accounts do is get people to read his content, no one makes 42,000+ people hit a follow button, they favorite and retweet every single thing he tweets, subscribe to his youtube channel, and buy tix to go see him. Pretty impressive for a 19 year old, and you have to admit it's a genius marketing strategy. All people want on Twitter is followers, they are benefitting from following him. I hope he keeps it up and continues to keep succeeding.

BobbyF said...

@Kristy: And how many tweets have those accounts sent? & how many have been closed down for spam? How many people have been annoyed - been given a negative impression of Nicky - in return for those 42k followers?

If you think spam's fine, that's fine. I and others disagree. We think it's silly and will do more harm than good in the long run.

Dave Gorman said...

Kristy said: "they favorite and retweet every single thing he tweets"

Me: Yes they do. But not always because they love what they're retweeting. He trades RTs with people!

Emma Spreadbury said...

Kirsty: "All people want on Twitter is followers"

Bums, I'm doing Twitter all wrong then. I was following people who occasionally say interesting things. It's a follower gathering competition? Somebody could have told me... I'll get some spambots going.

Also, Kirsty ^ up there, that's how you use an ellipsis. It's three dots. Could you let Nicky know. Thanks.

Kristy said...

@DaveGorman you literally know nothing. He does not trade RTs at all, what does that even mean? They RT what they want. Nicky is doing amazing, keeps booking more and more interviews and playing more venues that want to advertise through his twitter. you guys are all just jealous haters, and that's why he's going to be famous and do great things while you all sit behind a computer and trash talk a really smart idea. Love you Nicky, if you're reading this we got you boo boo

Debby said...

Why is this still being talked about? And wtf does "trading rts" mean Dave? Now you're just making up stuff. You talking about this has done nothing to hurt or cease Nicky's marketing. Stop wasting your time with this.

Gaz said...

(Kristy: "He does not trade RTs at all, what does that even mean?"

Debby: "And wtf does "trading rts" mean Dave?")

It means he says to people, "I'll RT you 5 times if you RT me 5 times." Y'know... he trades RTs.

It's added on the end of the blog post. He uses the account Princess_Peach7 to do it.

Dave Gorman said...

Debby: Why is this still being talked about?

Me: Welll... I guess because it's a conversation. I'm replying to this now, for example, because you joined the conversation and asked a question. But only you know why you're still talking about it Debby.

Debby: And wtf does "trading rts" mean Dave?

Me: It means suggesting to people that he'll RT them if they RT him. Trading the commodity of a retweet.

Debby: Now you're just making up stuff.

Me: Well someone emailed me to tell me about it and there's a screen grab of the tweets from Princess_Peach7 in the blog post. The tweets say, "You should promo with NickyParis. 5 RTs for 5RTs. Email him at to set up promo!!!!" which seems pretty clear to me. I'm definitely not making it up.

Debby: You talking about this has done nothing to hurt or cease Nicky's marketing.

Me: I'm not trying to stop him, although I think he'd be wise to stop. I'm just talking about it. A lot of blogs are based on personal experience. This particular entry is about my experience of being spammed and why I think it's a terrible way to promote comedy. That's all.

Debby: Stop wasting your time with this.

Me: The easiest way to make people stop talking about it is to stop talking about it yourself Debby. If you, Kristy and Alexes hadn't popped in and said what you've said I doubt anyone else would have added much either. But you keep the topic alive.

Kristy: He does not trade RTs at all, what does that even mean?

Me: See above.

Kristy said...

@DaveGorman I just went down some of the tweets that the promoter accounts get for the first time and a lot of them get tweets that say thank you for the reccomendation. I know for a fact that they're specifically targeted through a list run by Princess Peach by people who will fall under his demographic. Once again, a genius technique. He didn't kill anyone Dave, he's getting readers and people that love his tweets. Every time he gets retweeted it goes down someone else's timeline aka this is called networking which helps him get followers who are not even suggested from these accounts. The more and more I think about this, the smarter I realize he is. Go nicky

Dave Gorman said...

@Kristy: Can I just check, you know you said he does not trade RTs at all and then asked what it meant?

And you know I explained what it meant and then showed you that he does, definitely trade RTs?

Only you don't seem to have addressed that bit. I'd be keen to know if that was news to you or if you were lying when you said he definitely didn't do it?

Kristy said...

@DaveGorman I honestly had no idea what you were talking about or what umeant. There is apparently a lot you don't know about Twitter there are countless Quote accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers that help promote eachothers tweets by RTing eachothers and doing "promo". I know for a fact he looked into it and never got around to doing it. You should look up a lot of the huge quote accounts on Twitter they promo each other all the time with lots of tweets.

Emma Spreadbury said...

@DaveGorman: YOU haven't addressed the fact that Nicky hasn't killed anyone. Can we all just address that fact right now, because there seemed to be a suggestion that Nicky had, in fact, killed someone.

Really, the argument here I think is "does spam work?" And yes, it must, otherwise it wouldn't continue. I myself looked at Nicky Paris' account, and saw all the nasty little formulaic one-liners and realised there are worse things than spam.

Dave Gorman said...

@Emma Spreadbury: You're right. I haven't acknowledged the lack of loss of life. And I should have. Because really, killing someone is the only thing one can complain about these days. Everything that isn't that is fine. So long as it's not that. My apologies.

NotNicky said...

Thought you might be interested in my new blog... it's about Nicky Paris and his army of spambots:

The Spam Of Nicky Paris.

Ross Eden said...

wow, some people really dont have anything better to do with their lives than arguing on the internet.... well, someone doesnt.... and it seems he/she/it wants to pick a fight with you Mr Gorman! Touche.....

Ade said...


You really seem very defensive. What do you do for a living? PR perhaps?

Dave's right. Spam IS very annoying. Its bad enough all the major websites bombarding us with "targeted" ads for anything you've researched in the past month without having to put up with new "followers"who are clearly spambots (usually with women's names). Dave, as usual, has a valid point. Seems you are clutching at straws.

Dave Gorman said...

I've had so many emails and tweets about all this - containing lots of extra information - so I've put a new post together. Hopefully it makes my position clearer as well. It's here.