By Blake Wexler
Hi I’m Blake, I’ve been doing stand up since I was 15 years old, and I decided to celebrate my 12 year stand-up-iversary this past year by putting out my first comedy recording, The Blake Album. This blog post is about how I went about doing that, the things that worked for me, and what I’d do differently.
Also if you’re allergic to cats, don’t sleep next to two cats the night before you record it. Even if you like cats, don’t do it.
When to do It
Whenever you think you’re ready to have a permanent record of your work available to people. I started stand-up when I was a kid, but I’ve only been compiling material that I’m proud of for the past five years (unfortunately my jokes about failing my learner’s permit tests did not age as well as I wanted them to).
The other thing that factored into when I recorded my album was to see when some of my favorite comedians (John Mulaney, Bill Burr, Dan Levy) released their first albums as a point of reference (it was right around 6 years). The most important part though is that I had an hour of material that I simultaneously proud of and ready to move on from.
Also I’m allergic to cats and have asthma and if you have those ailments too, don’t stay in a house with a cat in it the night before your album. If there are two cats in that house, that’s worse.
Where to Do It
Comfort was a big thing for me when deciding where to do my album, so I boiled it down to Los Angeles (where I live), Philadelphia (where I’m from), or Boston (where I went to college).
Since it was my first album, I thought doing it in my hometown where I started doing stand-up would make the most sense. Also, I was only recording one show, and I knew Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia would have the fewest amounts of variables (things that could mess up my recording). Throughout my career the crowds in Philly have been the best I’ve experienced, so I decided to do it there.
Like most cities, Philadelphia has cats. I’m allergic to cats.
How to Produce It
With technology now, there’s a variety of ways to put out your own “art” (I put art in quotes because even at this point in my life I think it’s hilarious to refer to my jokes with the same word that scholars use to refer to Picasso’s “paintings.” Oops there I go again!).
The first option I had was to release my album through a record label. This would’ve been a good option because labels pay for the recording (the audio engineer, audio equipment, etc), help advertise it, and sometimes having a label behind your work can give it more credibility. The one drawback is that because they do all these things for you, you as the artist keep a smaller percentage of the profits from what you sell.
The other option, and the one I went with, is producing it yourself. I paid for the whole thing (the audio engineer, the guy who edited everything, advertising, etc), and also called in a favor to my sister Wendy to do the graphic design for the cover. This was basically me betting on myself that I’d make my money back (I did, take that Picasso!). Also I’m lucky to have enough experience in producing (I worked as a producer for a while at Comedy Central & ABC), so I did have the knowledge on how to do a lot that.
It’s important to have a great audio engineer so they can help edit out your wheezing into the microphone, because if you are allergic to cats and sleep next to cats the night before your album recording and have asthma you’re going to wheeze into the microphone and that’s bad.
Don’t Get Sued by Jay Z
I wanted to take a photo of myself that mirrored the cover of Jay Z’s multi-platinum album The Black Album, but instead of serious-face, I thought it’d be funny to have a very goofy smile on mine.
I ran this idea by my lawyer, who was kind enough to tell me that if I did used that photo as my album art, Jay Z could theoretically sue me because I’m not technically parodying The Black Album with any of my material.
I don’t know if Jay Z is allergic to cats (you know, the things I’m allergic to) or not, but if he is he probably wouldn’t make the mistake of sleeping next to two of them before putting out an album. I also just looked up, “Does Jay Z have asthma”, which is definitely a Top 5 All Time Google search.
What I’d Do Differently
I probably wouldn’t sleep next to cats the night before my album recording.
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