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.