By Ashlee Voorsanger With over two dozen TV credits (Comedy Central, Showtime, Oprah, VH1 and more), and ten years dazzling an es...

Festival Insights from Comedian and Producer Carole Montgomery

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By Ashlee Voorsanger
With over two dozen TV credits (Comedy Central, Showtime, Oprah, VH1 and more), and ten years dazzling an estimated 5 million fans in Vegas, Carole Montgomery is a respected and sought after veteran of stage and screen.  In addition to her own bustling stand up career, she develops and directs solo shows and comedy specials including the critically acclaimed "I'm Your Savior" by Jim Florentine.  For all things Carole, and more details on solo show development check out her website: carolemontgomery.com . 
Follow Carole on Twitter @NationalMom  Follow Carole on Instagram @NationalMom


TEN FESTIVAL QUESTIONS WITH INDUSTRY POWERHOUSE CAROL MONTGOMERY

TWIC: What are some general submission dos / donts for comics?
CM: DO NOT open with "How are you doing?" I will stop watching immediately. If you are taping a set for ANY submission go right into your material. This is a huge pet peeve for me. Material is more important than crowd work. Make sure the sound is good. That is more important than it looking good. I have seen sets shot great and then the sound sucks.

TWIC: Biggest challenge working with comedians in a festival environment
CM: Having the comic understand that this is a festival and not a showcase club. Show up on time and when you get the light it means wrap up NOT do another 10 minutes.

TWIC: How important are previous credits (festivals or name clubs) for comics submitting?
CM: Honestly the tape to. me is the most important, more so than credits.

TWIC: Any "wish I had known xyz" revelations from working on the production side of festivals?
CM: Not really, festivals are a world of their own. As a producer a lot of the work is done before the actual festival. When the fest finally happens it's a whirlwind of making sure the shows and comics run well. Here's something VERY important. SHOW UP! I can't tell you how many times comics just didn't show up for their spot. Be on time, stick to your time. Period.

TWIC: Thoughts on competition vs. non-competition festivals?
CM: I did the SF festival and also the Funniest Mom TV show on Nick at Nite. Doing competitions is silly, no one is better than anyone else. 

TWIC: Advice for selecting a festival for a comedian trying to get into their first festival?
CM: I would go with a smaller one than try for the big ones. This way you can get your feet wet amongst peers that are the same level as you. Trying to get into Montreal when the big guns are going to take top interest isn't worth the emotional investment.

TWIC: Importance / relevance of festival credits?
It depends on what you think the festival will do for you. I always ask what is your goal as a stand up? TV, film, writing? Choose a festival that is going to help you achieve your goal.

TWIC: Is there a strategy to getting to the elusive "invitation" festivals? 
Most of the elusive festivals will only take submissions from representation. I would suggest talking to a club that has auditions for fests and see if you can get on the bill.

TWIC: What was your first festival and how would you rate the experience?
CM: The grandaddy of them all. Just for Laughs in Montreal. I was the first women comic on the Nasty Show. I was on the bill with Dave Attell, Doug Stanhope, Nick Dipaolo and Bobby Slayton. It was amazing. My first competition was in SF. That was heartbreaking.  I was doing great shows and never placing in the top ten. I would find out later from one of the emcees that it was fixed. Another reason I don't do competitions.

TWIC: What is your favorite festival and why?
CM: Prob Montreal but also the NY Underground Comedy Festival because we tried so hard to showcase young comics and comedy in general.
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