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Comedy

Ben Performing In Stamford As Part Of CT Comedy Festival

Monday, April 15th, 2019

Fresh off of winning the comedy portion of Connecticut’s Got Talent 3, Ben Rosenfeld will be performing in his hometown of Stamford, CT as part of the Connecticut Comedy Festival.

Tickets are available at StamfordComedyClub.com and CTComedyFest.com/roots

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Ben in Viral BuzzFeed Video

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

I’m pleased to share this BuzzFeed video in which I was a talking head. I hope you enjoy!

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2019 Comedy Goals

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

For the past ten years, I set goals at the start of the year and then review how I did at the end of the year [see 20182017201620152014, 2013201220112010 and 2009]. I’m not sure if this is actually useful, as the goals have been pretty similar the last few years and I only look at this post the first and last day of the year, but I like traditions, and maybe it helps subconsciously, so here go my goals for this year.

I’ve put “process goals” (aka things I can control) in black, and “goal goals” (aka thing that depend on other people as well as me) in grey text. There’s an extra line break in between the two.

I have the same number goals this year as last year (15) and then whittled down my top 5. If I nail 3 out of these top 5 goals, and don’t achieve a single one of the others, I’ll consider it a very good year.

Performing

  • Record my fourth comedy album
  • Publish my second book (details coming soon)
  • Perform 500 times
  • Do a stand-up set on TV or Netflix that airs in its entirety (not a stand-up clip show)
  • Do two acting gigs (non-stand up) that air on TV
  • Perform at a NACA showcase
  • Perform at 10 colleges

Writing/Producing

  • Create 40 new minutes of material that I try on stage, turn 20 of those minutes into “A” jokes
  • Write 5/7 days of every week
  • Film a sequel to The Slice and create 4 more videos
  • Sell a TV show and get it on air

Learning

  • Take at least one acting class
  • Read 20 books

Financials

  • Earn $40,000 from entertainment related business income

Misc

  • Average weight 176 pounds or less

 

Top 5 Goals

  • Record my fourth comedy album
  • Publish my second book
  • Create 40 new minutes of material that I try on stage, turn 20 of those minutes into “A” jokes
  • Do a stand-up set on TV or Netflix that airs in its entirety
  • Sell a TV show and get it on air

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2018 Comedy Goals Revisited

Monday, December 31st, 2018

On January 1st, 2018 I posted my goals for this year. Since it’s the last day of the year, it’s time to go through them and see how I did. Black text is the original goal and bold text is how I did. 

Performing (1 out of 5 accomplished, and two half credits)

  • Perform 600 times this year, including 400 club spots
    Did not hit 600. I performed 505 times this year – half credit
  • Go on 30 acting auditions, get 3 callbacks
    Did not get to 30. Went on 22 auditions (not counting self-submission tapes), got 1 call back – half credit
  • Perform at 8 college shows
    Did less than 8 colleges
  • Do a stand-up set on TV that airs in its entirety (not a stand-up clip show)
    Did not do a TV set
  • Do two acting gigs (non-stand up) that air on TV
    Yes! Did an ESPN commercial and a Netflix Show

Writing/Producing (1 out of 3 accomplished, 1 incomplete)

  • Create 40 new minutes of material that I try on stage, turn 15 of those minutes into “A” jokes
    Goal accomplished
  • Submit 5 writing packets
    Did fewer than five packets
  • Sell a TV show
    Incomplete / pitches in progress
  • Have a consistent entertainment writing job for 8+ weeks
    No
     

Learning (2 out of 2 accomplished)

  • Take two acting classes
    Took two acting classes
  • Read 25 books
    Read 29 books

Financials (1 out of 2 accomplished)

  • Get my new album, The United States of Russia, to hit #1 on the iTunes or Amazon comedy sales rankings
    Yes! Was number one on iTunes comedy on and off for a few days.
  • Earn $40,000 from entertainment related business income
    Did not achieve

Misc (0 out of 2 accomplished)

  • Average weight 174 pounds or less
    Average weight was closer to 178-179
  • Do my morning routine 4 out of 7 days every week
    Did not do proper morning routine 4 days a week

 

Goals Overall – 5 out of 14 goals accomplished, plus two half credits, and one pending

 

Top 4 Goals (Out of 15) (2 out of 3 accomplished, one in process/incomplete)

  • Create 40 new minutes of material that I try on stage, turn 15 of those minutes into “A” jokes Yes
  • Sell a TV show Incomplete / Pitches in Progress
  • Do a stand-up set on TV that airs in its entirety (not a stand-up clip show) No
  • Get my new album, The United States of Russia, to hit #1 on the iTunes or Amazon comedy sales rankings Yes

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Announcing Ben’s New Web Series: Baby Therapist

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

I’ve just started putting out a new web series called “Baby Therapist” where I play a baby and my baby plays a therapist. Other people will soon be on the “therapist’s” couch too.

There’s lots of episodes ready to be released, so subscribe to my youtube channel or watch the playlist below (it will be updated weekly).

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“Solve For Happy” Quotes

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

I recently read “Solve For Happy: Engineer Your Path To Joy” by Mo Gawdat. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like them, buy and read the book here.

“What I realized was that I would never get to happiness as long as I held on to the idea that as soon as I do this or get that or reach this benchmark I’ll become happy.” (6)

“Happiness is the absence of unhappiness.” (19)

“Success is not an essential prerequisite to happiness.” (22)

“While success doesn’t lead to happiness, happiness does contribute to success.” (23)

“Unhappiness happens when your reality does not match your hopes and expectations.” (26)

“Happiness ≥ Your perception of the events of your life MINUS your expectations of how life should behave.“ (26)

“Once the thought goes, the suffering disappears.” (27)

“It’s the thought, not the actual event, that’s making you unhappy.” (28)

“It all begins when you accept the thought passing through your head as absolute truth. The longer you hold on to this thought, the more you prolong the pain.” (32)

“Happiness depends entirely on how we control every thought.” (35)

“With no thoughts, we return to our default, childlike, state: happiness!” (39)

“In the 1930s, the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky observed that inner speech is accompanied by tiny muscular movements in the larynx. Based on this, he argued that inner speech developed through the internalization of out-loud speech. In the 1990s, neuroscientists confirmed his view.” (53)

“When it comes to thought, you should be in full control. Your brain’s job is to produce logic for you to consider. When the thoughts are presented, you should never lose sight of the question Who is working for whom?” (57)

“You just need to take charge and act like the boss. Correct Descartes’ statement all the way: I am, therefore my brain thinks.” (57)

“There are three types of thought that our brains produce: insightful (used for problem solving), experiential (focused on the task at hand), and narrative (chatter). Those types are so distinctively different from each other that they occur in different parts of our brain.” (57)

“As soon as you master the art of observing an idea and letting it go, your mind will quickly run out of topics to bring up. It can keep going only when you cling to an idea.” (61)

“Once when Aya was around five, she was crying while I was deeply engaged trying to explain to her why she shouldn’t cry about the issue that had upset her. In the cutest way she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Papa, when I’m crying don’t talk to me about the things that make me cry. If you want to make me happy, just tickle me.” (65)

“To observe the physical world, you need to observe from a vantage point outside it.” (83)

“Our expectation that others will buy into our fake image is never satisfied – and we feel unhappy.” (90)

“The egoless child is still calmly sitting inside each of us. Buried in layers over layers of lies, egos, and personas. Happy nonetheless. Waiting to be found.” (93)

“Others will rarely ever approve of your ego because they are more concerned with their own ego than with yours.” (95)

“Entertain the idea that what you’ve spent your entire life learning may not be entirely true.” (117)

“While eternity is commonly understood to be a very long time, it really is the absence of time. It is timelessness.” (132)

“Every time you examine your thoughts you’ll notice that whatever you’re upset about is rooted in a past you cannot change or a future that may turn out to be completely different from what you express.” (141)

“Strive to achieve your goals knowing that the results are impossible to predict. When something unexpected happens, the detachment concept tells us to accept the new direction and try again” (151)

“As Oscar Wilde said, “It is all going to be fine in the end. If it is not yet fine, then it is not yet the end.” (155)

“There is nothing wrong with planning and trying to assume control. THe way we react when something unexpected happens is where we go off track.” (155)

“If you can afford the brain cycles to worry about the future, then by definition, you have nothing to worry about right now.” (172)

“Ninety percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world but by the way your brain processes the world.” (213)

“One day I realized that control is not to be gained at the micro level of every detail. It is not to be found in what I need to do, but rather in how I need to do every little thing I do.” (243)

“Please stop looking at what you don’t have. What you don’t have is infinite. Making that your reference point is a sure recipe for disappointment.” (249)

Liked the quotes? Buy the book.

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“The Drunkard’s Walk” Quotes

Monday, October 29th, 2018

I recently read “The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives” by Leonard Mlodinow. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like them, buy and read the book.

“The human mind is built to identify for each event a definite cause and can therefore have a hard time accepting the influence of unrelated or random factors.” (xi)

“Successful people in every field are almost universally members of a certain set – the set of people who don’t give up.” (11)

“We should expect, by chance alone, about 1 in 10 of the CEOs to have five winning or losing years in a row.” (100)

“It is more reliable to judge people by analyzing their abilities than by glancing at the scoreboard.” (100)

“Voting is also a kind of measurement. In that case we are measuring not simply how many people support each candidate on election day but how many care enough to take the trouble to vote.” (1260

“Studies have shown that even flavor-trained professionals can rarely reliably identify more than three or four components in a mixture.” (132)

“In the months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when travelers, afraid to take airplanes, suddenly switched to cars. Their fear translated into about 1,000 more highway fatalities in that period than in the same period the year before – hidden casualties of the September 11 attack.” (159)

“Because the myriad of foreseeable and chance obstacles that must be overcome to complete a task of any complexity, the connection between ability and accomplishment is far less direct than anything that can possibly be explained by Galton’s ideas (of genetics).” (161)

“Psychologists have found that the ability to persist in the face of obstacles is at least as important a factor in success as talent.” (161)

“Events whose patterns appear to have a definite cause may actually be the product of chance.” (173)

“One of the most beneficial things we can do for ourselves is to look for ways to exercise control over our lives – or at least to look for ways that help us feel that we do.” (185)

“If events are random, we are not in control, and if we are in control of events, they are not random. There is therefore a fundamental clash between our need to feel we are in control and our ability to recognize randomness. That clash is one of the principal reasons we misinterpret random events.” (186)

“Although statistical regularities can be found in social data, the future of particular individuals is impossible to predict, and for our particular achievements, our jobs, our friends, our finances, we all owe more to chance than many people realize.” (195)

“We can focus on the ability to react to events rather than relying on the ability to predict them, on qualities like flexibility, confidence, courage and perseverance. And we can place more importance on our direct impressions of people thanon their well-trumpeted past accomplishments.” (203)

“In complex systems (among which I count our lives) we should expect that minor factors we can usually ignore will by chance sometimes cause major incidents.” (204)

“That is the deterministic view of the marketplace, a view in which it is mainly the intrinsic qualities of the person or the product that governs success. But there is another way to look at it, a nondeterministic view. In this view there are many high-quality but unknown books, singers, actors, and what makes on or another come to stand out is largely a conspiracy of random and minor factors – that is, luck.” (205)

“Realizing that “few people would engage in extended activity if they believe that there were a random connection between what they did and the rewards they received,” Lerner concluded that “for the sake of their own sanity,” people overestimate the degree to which ability can be inferred from success.” (210)

“We tend to see what we expect to see. We in effect define degree of talent by degree of success and then reinforce our feelings of causality by noting the correlation. That’s why although there is sometimes little difference in ability between a wildly successful person and one who is not as successful, there is usually a big difference in how they are viewed.” (212)

“Thomas Edison observed that “many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” (216)

“What I’ve learned, above all, is to keep marching forward because the best news is that since chance does play a role, one important factor in success is under our control: the number of at bats, the number of chances taken, the number of opportunities seized. For even a coin weighted toward failure will sometimes land on success. Or as the IBM pioneer Thomas Watson said, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” (217)

Liked the quotes? Buy the book.

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How To Put Together A Great College Comedy Show

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

Hey there College Activities Programming Board Person! Congrats on deciding to have a comedy show at your school! Now relax and know your students will have a great time. Especially if you follow the tips below that were gained from years of performing at lots of different colleges.

 

Booking

Book a comedian that’s right for your school! If you’re at a religious seminary in the South, the type of comedian most students will enjoy might differ from what students at a small liberal arts college in the northeast will respond to. All the comedians that I know who perform at colleges are funny professionals who’ll do a good job in almost any environment, but watch a few comedian’s videos and try to guess the best fit. For example, Jerry Seinfeld is great, but he probably won’t be the best fit for Live at The Apollo. If you have any language or content restrictions, make sure to let the comedian know that at least one week before the show so they can plan their material accordingly. Don’t announce restrictions minutes before the show starts, when the comedian has already decided on the material they will be doing at the show!

 

 

Promotion

Once you choose a comedian and a date is set a few months into the future (don’t schedule events during midterm or finals week!), start doing your online marketing, except for email blasts. Add the comedy show to your school’s calendar of events and other such places.

 

When it’s two weeks to show time:

– Send your first email blast. Students don’t make plans months into the future, so if you email too soon, you risk getting ignored.

– Make sure to create and put up nice looking flyers all over campus. Especially at social places like dining halls, dorm lounges and on bulletin boards outside of large lecture halls. The more students that come to the show, the better the energy, the bigger the laughs, the better time everyone has. While you can still have a great comedy show for ten or twenty students, it’ll be much better for everyone if you can get fifty or five hundred. I recommend having the minimal amount of text possible and making that font size very large. All you really need is the comedian’s photo and name, the location and date, and clarify if there’s an admission fee or if the event is free.

 

Example flyer text:

 

Comedian Ben Rosenfeld

Fri Sep 24 @ 8pm

Scott Hall Theatre

FREE

 

^That’s all you need!

 

 

The Room

This is the most important and underrated part of the show. How a room gets setup for comedy makes a huge difference for how well the show goes. The best practices:

  • If you can reserve a theatre or lecture hall with a stage, do that. Rooms that are already setup for performance are better than cafeterias, classrooms or multipurpose rooms because everything is already perfectly configured.If you can’t have the show in a theatre space or lecture hall with a stage, do the following:
  • Make sure there’s a microphone, a spotlight and maybe even a stage.
  • You have to a microphone that’s connected to working speakers. I highly recommend using a corded microphone. Cordless mics are great ideas, until something goes wrong and ruins the momentum of the show. If you insist on a cordless mic, have a backup wired mic hidden towards the back of the stage so that the comedian can quickly switch over without causing distraction.
  • If you don’t have an actual spotlight, at least make it so only the front of the room is lit. The best comedy is when the audience feels like one cohesive unit and too much lighting and being aware of other audience members will lessen this affect.
  • If you’re in a multipurpose room and can’t procure a real stage, most colleges usually have little risers that are easily transportable. Even a 4’ by 8’ stage that’s a foot off the ground makes a big difference. That said, of the three requirements above, the stage is the least important.

 

  • Focus on seating and stage arrangement
    • Have the seats as close to the stage as possible. A twenty-foot gap from the stage to the first row destroys energy. Plus comedy is enhanced when the audience can see the comedian’s facial expressions. The first row of seats should be no more than two feet from the front of the stage.
    • Assuming you’re not in a preconfigured theater space or lecture hall, minimize aisles. One long, connected row of seats is better than an aisle splitting chairs down the middle. Of course, this depends on the size of the room and specific fire codes (always follow those!) but as a general rule, connect all the seats in one row if possible.
    • Place the stage so the room feels wide, not long and narrow. If you’re in a rectangular room, the stage should go in the middle of the wide wall, not on the narrow wall.
    • Have someone from student activities guide audience members to sit in the front first. It’s much harder for a comedian when the first two rows are empty and everyone is sitting in the back. Comedy is about connection, and physical proximity enhances that connection. Don’t worry about the comedian picking on students, that happens very rarely (and usually only if students keep interrupting), this isn’t the 80s, well behaved audience members don’t get picked on for no reason
  • Play music as students come in to grab seats. Comedy is about energy, so get the mood positive before the show starts.
  • Have someone from the activities board introduce the comedian with a few words. Comedians will usually tell you exactly what to say. Keep it short and sweet.
  • Make your upcoming programs announcements AFTER the comedian finishes. Reading announcements from a piece of paper before the comedy show starts kills the energy and makes the start of a show harder. Do it at the end when everyone has had a good time and wants to learn more about your hard planned upcoming events.

 

That’s it! Ten years of experience distilled into less than a thousand words! Enjoy the show!

 

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Ben’s Sketch Goes Viral

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

I’m excited to report that my latest sketch has gone viral on Facebook!

6 days after posting, it’s at 424,000+ views and 11,000+ shares.

Check it out for yourself:

Hipster vs Old School

Posted by Ben Rosenfeld on Thursday, March 29, 2018

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Ben’s Newest Sketch Video: The Slice

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

I just released a new sketch video, check it out:

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