Brian T Shirley

Brian T Shirley
Jokers Wild, Atlantis Resort

Saturday, June 8, 2013

An article for GigMama

I've been creating a profile with an agency out of New York called "GigMama" and she sent me 9 questions to answer as a way of promoting me and GigMama at the same time. It is now up on their site, so I'm posting it here as well. It gives some insight into how I feel things should be done regarding LIVE comedy shows and some more of my background as well. Enjoy and comments welcome.


Comedian/Philosopher Brian T Shirley has been in the Business for nearly 20 years.  His act is derived from growing up poor, coming from a broken home, his military experience, partying, women, pets, infomercial’s, sports, and much,much,more.  He has performed all over the U.S., Canada and The Bahamas.  He has done special events such as opening for Huey Lewis and The News, the Laughter for Love benefit for Va. Tech, The  Second Annual Charleston Comedy festival and a Country music festival for Dodge trucks just to name a few. Brian has performed at The Jokers Wild Comedy Club located inside the Atlantis Resort and Casino on Paradise Island in The Bahamas. He has spread his comedy across the ocean performing for Carnival Cruise Lines.


How about I just let Brian tell you in his own words?
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How did Brian T Shirley come to be?  Basically, your origin as a performer.    I started writing comedy as a kid. I wrote skits, jokes and silly sayings. I also wrote for my high school newspaper and had my own column as a fictional character I created. I acted in plays as well. In the USAF I was tapped to help write and perform the comedic entertainment at several squadron functions. When I got out of the military I joined a workshop for stand-up comedy at a local comedy club and I was also part of an Improv group made up of several of the comedians from the workshop. The workshop helped me in my early development as a comedian and the Improv help me improve as a performer.

How long have you been doing it.    I have been writing comedy almost all my life. I’ve been a performer since my mid-teens. I’ve been a professional comedian for 20 years, I’ve got 3 published books, the first in 2009 and I’ve been a Radio Show Host for nearly a year. I do feel I have a lot more than a year of experience in radio as I have been interviewed hundreds of times, including radio,TV,newspaper and on the Internet.
What kind of services do you offer?  I mean I know what you do but could you give us a range of where you perform and what kind of events hire you?    I have worked in Comedy Clubs, Country Clubs,Cruise Ships,Resorts ( The Atlantis,Bahamas, Snowshoe,West VA.), Music Venues (House Of Blues),Corporate Functions, TV and Radio. I can perform G,PG,or R rated shows. I can also write a show to fit a certain crowd for a corporate function if I’m given names and information on employees and managers before the event. Because of my background in Improv, I can go into an audience and pull material from there if needed or I can stick to a script as a Master of Ceremonies.
What should a client look for when hiring a comedian?    That depends on the audience they plan on entertaining. Once they fully know what their needs are they can choose a comic to fill them. They also want a comedian with experience in different venues so he can pull from those experiences to bound with the audience, make changes in his show when needed and remain professional at all times. They need someone versatile who can read an audience, especially when it’s a corporate client.
What are some things you look for in a client?     I want all the information on the gig from them I can get. That means, what kind of show do they want, clean, adult or a mixture of both? What will the people be expecting and what’s the audience like? I want a decent stage to perform on if possible with proper lighting. A good sound system is a must, is they don’t have one or are not sure about theirs I can provide one for a modest fee. I have used my system for crowds of 300 or more, so I know it works. I also like to have the audience seated from the front of the stage first, then grouped together and not spread out. Also, if I’m the only comedian, someone to get the crowds attention and bring me onstage. It may sound like a lot, but I believe if a client wants a successful show, they need to treat it a certain way for it to work.
How do handle a situation with an unresponsive audience?     That’s when my Improv skills come into play. I will talk with them, get a dialog going and work material in as I feel necessary. I’ve done whole shows with just playing with the audience. I don’t recommend it to everyone, but it’s a nice skill to have when you pull it off. Those have been some of my best shows.
What’s the best part of your job? the worst?     That’s easy, good shows and bad shows, that’s why we do it right? For the feedback, the “do they think I’m funny” factor. I also like talking with the people after the show (the good shows) and looking them in the eye. It’s very rewarding when someone tells you that you made their night or that they really needed a good laugh. That’s why I’m doing it. The worst part can be the “Hell Gigs” and those are not always the small town one-nighters, I’ve had those Country Club gig that I wanted to run off stage and drive straight home. In a nutshell, the worst part is people that don’t have a sense of humor. I’m convinced, after 20 years of be a pro comedian, there are some people who should never enter a comedy show, but that’s a very,very small percentage of mankind,thank God! I think the good vastly outweighs the bad.
What would you say to someone interested in doing that you’re doing?     
I don’t want to sound mean, but if someone want to do this and their first question is ” How much money do you make?”, I would tell them to do something else. You have to LOVE doing this for no pay for a long time before you even see a paycheck, it’s an art,not a job. Once they get beyond that and still want to do it, I tell them to write constantly. Write your own stuff, create your own voice and the only way to find that voice is to get onstage as much as possible. I still house MC sometimes when I’m not on the road to work out new material.  It’s great, I get paid to practice, but it took me many years to get to that point. Also there are a lot of books about stand-up put there, grab one and study it. I’ve interviewed authors of best selling books about comedy so I won’t say which one to buy here, but people can email me for the info.
What’s your favorite story about an event at which you entertained?     Funny you should ask. I just put a video up on you tube, my website, The BTS Radio Show FB page and several other sites called “My Perfect Hall Gig”. It’s a short story from my third book called “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Club” in which I relate the tale of woe from a gig I did in my home state of GA. I worked the stories from my book out onstage and now I incorporate them into the show. This one has got a lot of attention, as well as the three stories about my friend Dave Ugly (Stage name). I have to plead the 5th, I have several favorites and most of are in my 3rd book. Here’s a quick version of one not in the book.
I was doing a show in FLA. and I knew the band that played onstage right after my show.One night we were hanging out and they asked if I wanted to come up and join them onstage the next night and sing a song. I told them I would, but that I was having trouble with my sleep and my doctor had prescribed me some medication that I have to take after my show. Once I take the pills, I only have about 45 minutes until I pass out, I told them. They said that was cool and we decided I would sing ‘We’re an American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad. The next night, I got offstage took my medication and went back to the club. I was standing back stage when I heard the lead singer say ” Alright, we have a special treat for you as your comedian from earlier tonight will come and join us for a song. We have to do the song now because he had to take some pills and he’ll be going to sleep soon, so here he is Brian T Shirley!!”.  I remember thinking “Why the hell did she tell them that? I’m glad I didn’t tell her about my rash!”
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Everyone loves to laugh and even people that don’t love to laugh will laugh at Brian T Shirley.   You can find Brian on gigmama.com at
http://www.gigmama.com/comedians/brian-t-shirley
 Remember, Mama wants you to find the perfect entertainment for your perfect event so please stop on by www.gigmama.com and find your event entertainment.
Big Hugs,
Mama