Saturday, 29 October 2011

Four... Three... Two... One?

Into the final of the Golden Jester!
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #45
Can I get a whoop whoop! I did it! Last night I progressed into the final of the Golden Jester comedy competition! It was a fantastic evening, five great acts, and I am bloody delighted to have made it through!

This competition started back in January, when 150 comedians from across the South East entered. In what was only my 48th gig, I finished a very close second behind Vahid Jahangard.

Chris Blackmore was third on the night, and could be in with a chance of making the final if he is the highest scoring runner-up. I have to say that seeing as Chris is only 17-years-old, he would definitely deserve his spot. I find it hard enough to get up on that stage at 33, so God knows how he feels! Hats off to him.

Special mentions to Katy 'Blossom' Evans and Palan who took fourth and fifth spots.

Alan Sellers was on top form as the MC, but the great Bob Mills stole the show as the headline act. He made it look so effortlessly and was bloody hilarious. His opening line was fantastic:

You guys have paid £6 to watch some new acts tonight, but you shouldn't complain because in six months you won't be able to afford to these guys in concert... because some of you will be out of jobs!

Classic!

But now it is on to the final on December 7, and who knows what might happen then! In July at my first round heat, I finished fourth on the night. Then in my quarter final earlier this month I came third, and my second-placed position last night means that I am starting to see a nice pattern starting to develop here...

No, not that I never bloody win! That hopefully I will take top spot next time. Sometimes I wonder why I bother...!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Two weeks without any practice...

Two weeks without any practice...
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #44
Tomorrow night is my big semi-final in the Golden Jester comedy competition and I have not gigged for nearly two weeks. I had to cancel last weeks gig at The Alchemist due to work commitments, so I will just have to keep my fingers crossed and hope I don't suffer from ring rust.

I've had ring rust before and me and my mate vowed never again...!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Those crazy Americans!

Book reviews for The Drought by Steven Scaffardi
Today I noticed that The Drought had it's first US reader review on Amazon.com - and it is certainly the most bizarre review yet! Check it out...

Amazon Reader Review #11 (Kindle Edition) This book is the answer
I was reading this book in the park when this very fine dime-piece came up to me. She was all like, "Oh my gosh, no one reads a book anymore, let alone in the park!" I responded coolly by placing the book on my lap and meeting her gaze with a slow sweep of my head. Yeah we chatted. No I didn't get her number. No I'm not taking her to dinner. The point is this is a good book. Every man should read it. While drinking whiskey and wearing flannel. That's how it was meant to be done. Cheers to Steven! 5/5 stars

Hmmmmm....!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Lad Lit Book Reviews! Accardo: The Genuine Godfather by William F. Roemer, Jr

Books For Men Book Reviews! Accardo: The Genuine Godfather by William F. Roemer, Jr
Any man that is nicknamed Joe Batters because he beat two men to death with a baseball bat is probably not the sort of man you want to mess with. Add to the fact that he got his monicker from Al Capone – the most notorious Mafioso of them all – only adds fuel to fire that this is one vicious gangster.

And who else better to tell his story than the one man who tried for years – yet never succeeded – to bring Tony Accardo to justice than former FBI Agent William F. Roemer, Jr. Whilst the likes of Capone and John Gotti will inevitably go down in American folklore as the two most well-known gangsters of the 20th Century, it was men like Accardo who achieved the highest status within their criminal underworld circles as one of the most powerful Mafia bosses in the history of the American Mafia.

For seven decades Accardo, a.k.a. Big Tuna, was embroiled in a life of crime, from his teenage years in street gangs to being recruited as a member of the Chicago Outfit in 1926. Roemer maps out Accardo’s life as a career criminal from his participation in the infamous St Valentine’s Day Massacre to seizing control of The Outfit in the 1940s.

Throughout the book Roemer speaks in a tone of grudging respect for Joe Batters (being a good family man, his foresight to expand the former Capone regime into new territories that greatly increased their power and wealth). but at the same time keeps the reader focused on the fact that this was a ruthless and merciless man, who had murdered his way to the top with some incredibly vicious and torturous methods.

Roemer uses his many experiences with Accardo and The Outfit to try and paint us a picture of how this criminal organization used the great wealth made from the prohibition era to sustain a period of dominance that would see the American Mafia wield power the like they have never seen again. Men like Accardo made that happen, rather than the ‘celebrity’ gangsters that are referenced in popular culture. Mobster Paul “The Waiter” Ricca summed Joe Batters up by saying, "Accardo had more brains for breakfast than Capone had in a lifetime."

This story is not simply portrayed as a ‘Good vs Evil’ story which would have been easy coming from a law enforcement officer who was never able to put one of his biggest nemesis’ behind bars. Instead Roemer takes a more human approach to the murderous men he is writing about; such as detailing their wishes for their sons to never follow them into this life.

In the end Roemer can only reflect on the ground work that the FBI laid in those days to help bring the mob of today to its knees. Men like Accardo will remain infamous through the annals of time, but that part of history that should not be neglected. After all, we are talking about a street thug who was expelled from school at 14 and went on to become leader of one of the most powerful – if not the most powerful – factions of the American underworld, before dying at the age of 86 a free man. Lessons can only be learned from men who rule with an iron fist just like Joe Batters did.

Perhaps not my favourite book about the American Mafia, but certainly worth a read if this is a genre that interests you.

http://stevenscaffardi.blogspot.co.uk/p/the-lad-lit-book-review.html

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Back to the Railway and back in the saddle!

The Comedy Bin have taken over at The RailwayDiary of a stand-up comedian Entry #43
Last night it was back to The Railway, but for the first time without the legendary Openmic Matt! It was good to see Bobby Freeman again last night, one of the original Railway comics, and despite the excellent Andy Storey as MC, I couldn't help but feel it wasn't quite the same without Matt. However, I really like The Railway as a venue and I am delighted the Comedy Bin have kept it going.

Mainly because it doesn't take me that long to get home from!

It was nice to lay the ghost to rest that was last weeks gig at The Old School Yard, and it has got me back in the mood for my upcoming Golden Jester semi-final.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Interview with the West Sussex County Times

I spoke with another local paper last week about my debut novel The Drought and yesterday the story was printed in the West Sussex County Times. The story did not go up on their website, but you can read the article below...


Debut novel is 'chick-lit for men'
by Tim Hopewell

 A former Broadbridge Heath man's debut novel The Drought has been described as 'chick-lit for men'.

Steven Scaffardi, who used to work for a local paper in Crawley, said his book has received positive feedback from TV presenters and has been described as similar humour to The Inbetweeners.

"I decided to leave the life of a journalist behind me in 2005 and joined the dark side of sales for purely financial reasons, but I still enjoyed writing in my spare time," he said.

"Several times I have tried writing a novel, but often I would try and write about things I thought were cool or edgy, like crime or gangsters.

"The big problem was I knew nothing about this world and after about three chapters I would inevitably re-read my work and laugh at it. Not really the reaction I was going for.

"In 2009 I decided to write The Drought after growing tired of my girlfriend making me watch ridiculous rom-coms or telling me about the chick-lit book she was reading at the time.

"The one thing that always struck me was how these men are portrayed. Your normal run-of-the-mill guy would not react to situations like these men did.

"I needed to put a few wrongs right, no matter how much women might not like what they read this is how men really think."

The Drought was published on September 24 and is available through Amazon and bookshops. 

Steve now lives in Surrey, although his parents still live in Broadbridge Heath.

He has also been performing stand-up comedy since January and has performed at open mic venues across London. 

"A friend of mine who does stand-up comedy encouraged me to give it a go at the start of he year, so after several drinks I got up on stage at a pub in Stockwell and did five minutes of comedy," he said. 

"I told the story of how I awkwardly lost my virginity, a story which unfortunately ended up with me describing my terrible performance in bed as being down to hayfever!

"I loved the buzz I got from making people laugh, and I have just kept going on the London open mic scene.

"I do about two gigs a week now. I share funny observations combined with self-deprecating humour about life as a 30-something man, especially stories about how hopeless I am with the opposite sex.

"The comedy is something I feel goes well with the book, as a lot of people have told me they can relate to the stories I am telling." 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

An audience full of art students = an audience full of *****

Students
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #42
Well, that was the message I posted on my Facebook and Twitter accounts last night. Perhaps looking back I was a little sensitive. As one friend commented on Facebook: A bad workman blames his tools and all that...

So last night at The Old School Yard was not my finest hour. In fact, it was pretty awful. I have done bad gigs before. I have died on my arse and lived to fight another day. But last night got to me. The last few weeks have been brilliant, what with getting through to the semi-final of the Golden Jester, and then smashing it at Dirty Dicks last week (Dirty Dicks is a pub by the way, I obviously wouldn't smash a dirty dick - this is not that type of blog!), it was pretty annoying to be standing there (delivering material which has been doing the business for me in recent weeks) to a bunch of silent spotty teenagers.

It is the first time I have really wondered why I do this. Why do I put myself through it?

At the start of the year, and until recently, I never moaned about having a bad gig, or a quiet audience, but now - nearly a year in - I feel like I have paid my dues, and if I want to rant, then I will rant dammit!

I'm not the funniest guy in the world - hell, I'm not the funniest guy on the open mic circuit - but I have a set that works! Comedy is subjective and all that, but right now I just want to rant. I am going to see how I get on in the Golden Jester, and then after that, who knows? Maybe it is time to give comedy a break for a while...

Knob-head students.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Golden Jester semi-final date confirmed!

Bob Mills, stand-up comedy,
Bob Mills: Headline act at
the Holiday Inn in 2 weeks
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #41
Back in January, 150 acts entered the Golden Jester comedy competition and now only 10 remain - including me! On Thursday, October 27 at the Holiday Inn in Sutton, I will be going up against five other acts in the first semi-final. Two acts will go through from both semi-finals (the second SF takes place on November 22), with the best runner-up also advancing to the December final.

Bob Mills will be the headline act on October 27. Tickets cost £6 from the Great Comedy Nights website, or £7 on the door. The doors open at 7.15pm and the show starts at 8.15pm sharp!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Advice for Indie Authors: An online audience is a great starting point

Advice for Indie Authors: An online audience is a great starting point, Bookcrossing.com
If there is a huge excitement on the day your book actually gets published, you will unfortunately experience an anti-climax in the aftermath once the dust has settled. Please don't misunderstand what I am saying - I am not trying to put a downer on things! But seeing your book on Amazon is one thing, now getting people to buy it is something completely different.

Once you have exhausted your friends and family, if you are serious about getting your book noticed, you are going to have to start branching out. Previously I have talked about how I had got the ball rolling with a series of interviews with local newspapers. But now I need to find an audience of potential buyers for my book and that is not easy. I did not realise how time consuming this part of my book publishing adventure would be. I knew I would have to put time and effort in, but I wasn't quite prepared for just how much time and effort!

It has literally taken over my life! If you are thinking about self-publishing but you are a bit work-shy, then I would give up now! Seriously, give up and find a different hobby, perhaps something like bingo, or even bowls - that is quite slow-paced. Because a day has not passed in the last couple of weeks without me doing something to try and promote my book.

The first thing I did was trawl the internet (no, not for that you filthy beggar!). I have continued to build on the in-roads I had been making with social media. Try to find out what the relevant hashtags are that will attract readers to your book. I have been using a series of hashtags including:
  • #books
  • #ebooks
  • #fiction
  • #paperback
  • #kindle
  • #indieauthor
  • #selfpublishing
  • #readthis
The thing is, I am only scratching the surface with this list, and for every Tweet I post, there are a thousand others like this. I whole-heartedly recommend you use Hootsuite, as this is really is a fantastic tool to schedule your social media posts, and saves you having to put time to one side every time you want to post something on Twitter or Facebook.

But the one hashtag I have had the most success with has been #competition. About two weeks prior to The Drought being published I set up a competition using social media, offering a free signed copy of my novel and a £25 Amazon voucher. As well as using the #competition hashtag, I also posted my Tweets with tags such as #win and #giveaway. All people had to do was follow me on Twitter and Like my Facebook page. In less than a week I had over 400 followers on Twitter and over 300 Likes on Facebook. It is amazing what people will do for free stuff! I now have strangers Re-Tweeting my posts and leaving comments on Facebook. I now have an audience.

I continued to build upon this audience using online forums. I posted information about the competition and picked up followers there, but now I was picking up genuine book lovers and avid readers. But you have to be careful with with forums and not go too overboard with the self-promotion. You have to remember that the people on these forums are like little communities. They come to these online meeting points to discuss their favourite books with like-minded people, and you will slowly irritate them and lose their interest if you simply post topics about how great your book is. You need to fully immerse yourself within these online communities; get involved with their discussions and engage in debate with these people. Forums are a slow-burner but they are well worth the effort and the benefit will be worth it in the long-run. I have already managed to sell a couple of eBooks and get some reviews on Amazon from people in these communities.

And last. but by no means least - blogging. Content is king with it comes to people finding you on the net. I have already established a healthy amount of content on my own website, but a good blog will encourage people to engage with you. It also puts your book in the shop window, and by using Amazon Associates, you can also advertise your book on your blogs to boost sales.

A special mention for book sharing website BookCrossing.com. I am planning to send copies of my book out into the 'wild' for people to find. For example, I left one book on a London Tube for someone to find. Each book you leave is assigned a special ID number generated by BookCrossing.com. When someone finds that book, they can log-on to BookCrossing.com and post information about where they found the book, and a review, before passing the book on for someone else to find.

I plan on sending about 25 copies out into the wild between now and the end of the year, so make sure you check out the blog to find out where they turn up (see you're interested already!).

This blog was originally posted on printweek.com

Made in Chelsea? Yep, couldn't agree more!

The shop in Chelsea named after the cast of Made in Chelsea!I hate the programme Made In Chelsea. I detest the spoilt brats that are paraded around pretending to live such perfect lives. I also hate that my girlfriend insists on watching the damn thing all the time! So I guess I should not have been surprised when I spotted this store on the Kings Road last week. Rumour has it, this is the casts favourite store!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Great book reviews on the back of the paperback release!

Amazon book reviews
Book reviews for The Drought by Steven Scaffardi
The positive reviews continue to rack-up for The Drought. Here are the latest reviews on the back of the paperback release two weeks ago...

Amazon Reader Review #8 (Paperback Edition): The funniest book I've read in ages
This is an awesome read! Hilarious, brutally honest and easily the funniest book I've read in ages. Steven Scaffardi is a new writer but you never would have of thought it. Simply put: GET IT! 5/5 stars

Amazon Reader Review #9 (Paperback Edition): A fantastic read
I was a little dubious at first as Scaffardi is a new writer but my fears were blown away within the first few pages. The story is cleverly written and full of characters everybody can relate to... Some of the tales may seem far fetched until I recalled them happening to me or one of my friends! This is a fantastic read which doesn't just cater for the 'lads' (my wife loved it!) and I would strongly recommend this book to anyone! 5/5 stars

Amazon Reader Review #10 (Paperback Edition): The Drought
The Drought is a witty tale which will stir memories for any group of lads, reminded me of some of my own group of friends shortcomings with the fairer sex!! A fun read 5/5 stars

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Top night at Dirty Dicks!

Dirty Dicks, Liverpool Street, Comedy, Open Mic Comedy
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #40
That was a frickin' awesome night! Hot on the heels of last nights success at the Golden Jester, it was down to Dirty Dicks in the city. It's a great little venue, and every time I have been there they have had a good audience. But I have never felt that I have done myself justice there - until last night!

All of my gags went down well last night, and I even got a round of applause for the lack of female rioters joke. A couple of lads from Essex said they were nearly in tears laughing, while Brendan O'Donoghue said that I smashed it (and he was excellent finishing the show!). And to top it all off, the promoters gave me a ticket to the Scott Capurro show on October 28! That's what I call a right touch!

I also got to see some really funny acts for the first time including Dave Flynn, Naomi Hefter, Tin Vodopivec, Buster Joe Loveman, and Brendan O'Donoghue.

I am through to the semi-finals of the Golden Jester comedy competition!


I am through to the semi-finals of the Golden Jester comedy competition!
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #39
Last night I came third out of 11 acts to qualify and progress into the semi-finals of the Golden Jester comedy competition. There was a great line-up of comics on the night, with the very funny Darren Walsh taking top spot, and James Alderson taking second.The event took place at the Holiday Inn in Sutton, and being a local gig for me, I had great support with friends and family coming down. It probably swung things slightly in my favour as the audience voted on the acts to go through, but Alan Sellers and the guys at Great Comedy Nights did say they had weighted down the scores to make the result more balanced.

Palan Ns and James Loveridge also progressed into the semi-finals that will take place on October 27 and November 22. Special mention to Sophie Richardson who I thought was really unlucky not to get through.

Roll on the semi-final!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Laughing Horse New Act of the Year - 1st Round Heat confirmed!

Laughing Horse New Act of the Year 2012
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #38
I got the nod last night that I have been entered into the Laughing Horse New Act of the Year! This competition has discovered the likes of Jack Whitehall, Russell Kane, and Rhod Gilbert.

My first round Heat will take place at The Goat Tavern in Green Park on November 8.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

September comedy round-up...

Guy Manners: MC at The Carnivale
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #37
I had two Comedy Bin gigs this month that I haven't mentioned yet - one on September 19 at The Carnivale hosted by Guy Manners, and then it was off to Clapham on September 28 for The Alchemist hosted by Aatif Nawaz.

I felt a bit sorry for Guy on the night as he tried to get the audience involved during his intro, but was met with two of the most stand-offish members of the crowd he could have picked! You had one woman who insisted she bascially did nothing in her life! And then he was chatting to some dude who seemed unsure of who he was! Hmmm, tough crowd. At least Guy managed to pick them out for the rest of us!

And back at The Alchemist where the hard-working Alex Chapman was doing his 49th gig of the week (the boy doesn't stop gigging!) and cat-lover Scott Rutterford, who had brought his banjo with him to sing a song about - yep, you guessed it - his cat!