The Stand-up Comedian Talks About The Science Of Joke-writing

Dan Marse-Kapr
Sept. 28, 2018 - "Spend time researching online to find the best platform, and coming up with a plan about how you'll produce and roll out your podcast. Make sure your podcast has a point, at least if you want to build an interesting audience."
Since 2018

►Tell us about you and your podcast

My name is Dan Marse-Kapr. I am a stand-up comedian currently living in Baltimore, MD, although I grew up in rural New York. I've been performing stand-up for almost five years, and have traveled all over the country to do shows and festivals.

My podcast is called Dan Has Jokes. It's all about the science of joke-writing. Each week I sit down with another comedian and we talk shop and share some stories. Sometimes we just riff on each other. But then we each present some new joke ideas and work on them together. Sometimes we do a lot of riffing, other times we really dissect specific concepts to try to think of how to make it funny. The conversations are usually a lot of fun!

My listeners so far seem to be mainly other comics, mostly from the United States, although I have some international listeners too. It was cool to receive fan mail from a relatively new comic in Vancouver, Canada. I've gotten a pretty strong response from listeners about how the podcast has helped them to put more work into their own comedy writing, and that's pretty much the best feedback I could hope for.


►Why & how did you start this podcast? 

I definitely listen to more podcasts now than I used to, but I wouldn't say I listen to them a lot. There's a few that I really like. I never really thought I would become a podcaster myself, but I was struck by the idea for this one and really wanted to do it. One of my favorite things about being a comedian is experiencing the process of taking an idea for a joke and working on it and turning it into something that gets an audience to laugh. I love watching how other comics edit their jokes through trial and error. Talking about joke ideas with other comics, and riffing off of each other's material, has always been very enjoyable for me, so the thought of making that into a podcast seemed like a no-brainer.

My main goal, really, is to give people something genuinely fun and interesting to listen to. I try to have people on who I think are funny and talented, especially if I know they're good at being funny in conversation. I also think that comedy fans always love to get a peek behind the curtain to see how much work actually goes into some of the jokes they hear onstage. Some comics make it look really easy, but that's only because they're good at it. The truth is, good comedy takes a lot of work. I'm glad other comics are listening to the podcast because if it helps them to take the work more seriously, I think their comedy will benefit from it. Judging from the comments and messages I've gotten from other comics, I think it's fair to say that this podcast is tapping into something special.


►How'd you find the time and funding to do this podcast?

I release a new episode every Monday. It usually takes a little over an hour to record, and then a couple hours to edit. I don't claim to be an expert-level sound editor, although as time goes on I'm planning to keep upgrading my equipment. I've already invested in being able to record outside of my home studio, so that I can start interviewing comics in other cities when I travel to them. It will also allow me to record much shorter episodes as bonus content, which I'm pretty excited about. (I also produce a web series called Heavily Edited, which requires a fair amount of work as well, but which tends to feature the same guests.)

My day job allows me to focus on comedy on nights and weekends so it's kind of perfect for me. At least for the time being, my recording setup is pretty low-budget. I got a couple nice podcasting microphones as a Christmas gift, I use free editing software for now, and record right into my computer. Since I've started to make a little money off of performing stand-up, I put some of that toward an equipment upgrade. I bought a Tascam recorder and a couple microphones and cables. Soon I'm going to have a Patreon set up, and any money that comes in from that will initially go toward further upgrades, especially computer and editing upgrades. Down the road I would also like to produce some live episodes with multiple guests because that would be ridiculously fun.


►What do you gain from podcasting?        

I am not currently sponsored or seeking sponsorship for my podcast. It generates no revenue for now. I have no idea what to expect with Patreon once that's set up, but I doubt it will bring in anything significant right away. Right now my podcast is fairly small although the numbers are definitely better than what I expected. I released the first three episodes at the end of July. It's now September, and I'm on track to hit 1000 downloads in the next couple of weeks. Most of my downloads come either from the Maryland/DC area (where I live) or California. It's hard to be sure at this moment but it seems to be gradually growing in popularity.

Right now the main benefit of doing the podcast has been the impact it has had on my role in my local comedy scene. It's nice to be known and regarded as a talented joke writer. Since starting the podcast I've noticed that other comics will randomly come up to me at shows or open mics sometimes, and run their own joke ideas by me. And then we get to work on jokes together, just like I do on the podcast. So it's not a material benefit but it has been an awful lot of fun for me.


►How does your podcasting process look like? 

I record with two microphones, a Samson Q2U mic and a Blue Snowball, both of which have served me well. The Blue Snowball picks up a little more white noise, but has more versatility. The microphones plug right into my Mac desktop, and I record using Audacity. I also use Audacity to edit my audio, although I'm not sure if that will change once I start recording some episodes with the Tascam. At some point I'd like to upgrade to the Adobe suite, but I'm not able to do that yet.

So far I have interviewed all my guests in person, which has required them to come to my home studio (which really isn't much of a studio, to be honest). Once I have the Tascam I'll be using Behringer mics to record, and have the flexibility to meet comics in other locations. It will also allow me to interview comics who might not be able to come to my home studio anyway, since I live in a condo unit that unfortunately is not wheelchair accessible. I'm planning on recording some interviews either via Skype or, preferably, using a program like Zencastr, but I haven't made the attempt yet.

Preparation for recording is relatively simple. I schedule the interview, and tell my guest(s) to come with some ideas for new jokes that they're working on, or would like to work on. I review my own notes to find material that I want to work on too. Then I set up the recording station and do a few sound checks, and basically I just start recording. Most of my guests are comics who I know through my local scene or who I've seen perform and thought they were really funny. I've definitely enhanced some of my comedy friendships through this process, which is great. I am open to booking comics whose comedy I'm not as familiar with if I know that they're serious about the work and (to be blunt) not a horrible person. The only thing that I don't like is I can't put everyone I want on the podcast as quickly as I would like, because I can only do one episode per week.


►How do you market your show?

Right now my podcast is available in lots of places, including iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and Google Play (although Google Play doesn't seem to be quite as user-friendly so it might be difficult to find). It's also easily available on my website, danhasjokes.com. Most of the listeners access the show through iTunes/Apple.

I promote all my episodes on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Facebook is kind of annoying - I have a page devoted to my comedy (@danhasjokes) but it seems like page posts don't reach many people who follow the page unless you pay to boost the post. I'm not looking to do paid advertisements on Facebook just yet, so I've been leaning more heavily on my personal account since at least that way, I know that a lot of other comics will see it, and sometimes they share the posts too. I don't have a huge following on Instagram, but the posts there do as well as any of my posts could, although I sincerely don't know if that translates to more downloads.

I'm going to start sending out emails to my mailing list each week to announce new podcast episodes, hopefully in the next week or so, and especially by the time my Patreon is ready.


►What advice would you share with aspiring (new) podcasters?

Being a relatively new podcaster myself, I'm hesitant to give much advice, but here's what I'll say. First of all, don't rush into it. Spend time researching online to find the best platform, and coming up with a plan about how you'll produce and roll out your podcast. Make sure your podcast has a point, at least if you want to build an interesting audience.

Second, definitely take the editing process seriously. I don't necessarily have this all figured out, but I do spend time cutting things out of each interview just to try to get the whole thing to flow a little more smoothly, whether it's annoying vocal tics or tangents that go nowhere. Believe me when I say, editing makes a difference.

I don't know which resources to recommend, but what I did was talk to other podcasters who I knew would give trustworthy answers. I learned a lot that way about basic audio editing, and deciding which programs to use.


►Where can we learn more about you & your podcasts?

If you're interested in following my podcast or any of my other comedy stuff, you can visit danhasjokes.com or follow @danhasjokes on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Once the Patreon is setup, that will also fall under the danhasjokes label. I have a web series on YouTube called Heavily Edited that is extremely low budget but it's silly and funny, and has received very positive responses. There are links available for that on my website as well. The official email address is danhasjokes at gmail dot com.

Updated: 11 months ago