While every comedian dreams about releasing an album or a special of their best material, the trade-off is that it forces them to retire those jokes from their set. While this isn't a big deal for headliners who have hours' worth of material, for up-and-coming comedians who are still developing an act it can be a problem.
Corey Adam ran into this challenge last year when he approached local comedy powerhouse Stand Up! Records about possibly putting out an album.
"They told me that I wasn't ready to put out an album, and they were right," he recalls. "I've got probably 45 minutes of really good material, but not enough for a really quality album. I'm glad they said that, because I really don't want to put out something that isn't the best it can possibly be."
Still, Adam, who has been an active part of the Twin Cities comedy scene since 2008, was looking for a way to supplement his gigs on the road. That's when inspiration struck.
"I've recorded all of my sets of the past six years," he says. "And I had some really funny, organic stuff that came from just riffing and doing crowd work. I thought it was good, and decided to put together an album of just crowd work that I could sell at shows."
After digging through hours of recordings and grabbing only the funniest ad-libbed bits of each set, Adam finally came up with enough material to release an entire album made up of nothing but his interactions with the audience. The result? Corey Adam: No Joke.
"It was perfect because I had something I could sell at shows without burning any of my material," he says of the album. "Then it just became a matter of how I was going to afford to get it pressed."
Like many artists, Adam turned to crowd-sourcing this past January, and created a Kickstarter with a goal amount of $2,000.
"All I wanted to do was raise enough money to press up some CDs that I could sell to pay for gas money at shows," he says of his initial goal. What he wasn't prepared for was the outpouring of support from fans, friends, and fellow comedians.
"We hit the goal in three days," he says. "I was totally unprepared for that kind of feedback. In my comedy career, I've kind of made it a habit of accidentally falling forward, and this was another example of that."
In addition to offering contributors digital and physical copies of the album, he offered a number of unique incentives for those who donated, including rubber chickens, hand-sewn stuffed bears, personalized video messages, and more.
As for the album itself, Adam says he is very satisfied with the finished product.
"There's a stigma in the comedy community associated with crowd work, like it's a way to mask your deficiencies as a comic," he says. "But after listening to the album and having some of my comedian friends who I really respect and admire listen to it, I believe it's something totally different and really funny. Plus, now I have something that I can sell at shows. If you like my set, you can buy the album and know that there are no jokes that you've ever heard me do or that I'll ever do again. It's great."
While his ultimate goal is still to put out a more traditional comedy album (you know, with actual jokes), Adam is happy to continue honing his craft so that when the time does come, he'll be ready. In the meantime, you can see him live and in person (and buy his CD) every Sunday night at Willy's in Coon Rapids, where he hosts an open-mic night, as well as his monthly New Kids on the Corner showcase at Comedy Corner Underground, or the monthly comedy night at Sisyphus Brewing.
For upcoming appearances or to hear more of his standup, visit his website at coreyadamwastaken.com or follow him on Twitter.