The Stand Up Story Prospectus

Stand Up Story is a documentary about a magical time in the history of Houston stand up comedy, a time when the Bayou City was in many ways the most respected spot on the comedy map. The Comedy Workshop, just about the first comedy club outside of New York or Los Angeles, launched the careers of dozens of comics who went on to fame and success: Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks, Janeane Garafalo, Brett Butler and many more. Other famous Houstonians tried their hands at comedy here, as well, including nationally known cartoonist, Bill Hinds, and long time radio DJ, Fred Kennedy, better known as half of Hudson and Harrigan.

While the comedy routines themselves will appear in moderation, Stand Up Story focuses on the many personalities and larger than life characters who populated Houston’s comedy scene prior to 1990. The performers who laid it all on the line each night, baring their souls in front of paying strangers, also formed bonds and friendships that have lasted lifetimes. On top of everything else, they accumulated some of the most hysterical and irreverent stories ever told.

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This movie tells the tale of those pioneering Houston comedians through their own recollections, vintage video and stills, and the narration of Mike Vance, the very first stand up comic to set foot on the Workshop’s stage. One of the most attractive elements of Stand Up Story is that there will be access to privately held stills and video that have never before been seen in any media. It is a unique look into the world of show business and, at the same time, preserves a valuable tale of Houston’s performing arts history.

Production Team

The writer and producer for this project is Mike Vance, a 25 year veteran professional in all aspects of writing and performing. He has sold sit-com scripts, hosted a drive time talk show, provided humorous commentary on sports and politics for TV and print, starred in national comedy specials, toured internationally doing stand up and improvisation and even done a full season color on Rice University baseball broadcasts. He is specifically suited for this project.

Allison Gill was the first director of photography and post production supervisor on Stand Up Story. Her background is heavy in graphics and post. Along with her husband, Greg Gill, the sound designer for this project, Allison is co-owner of Spyder Design here in Houston. They oversaw shooting on the hours of interviews that were shot in 2003 and 2004.

Several other experienced Houston directors, editors and photographers are committed to helping complete Stand Up Story. Several of them have personal remembrances of seeing comedy in Houston during those special years.

Comparable Projects and Possible Markets

Comedy is always a hot commodity in television and film, and that extends to the documentary market. There have been no fewer than three separate biographical documentaries about Sam Kinison and a like number about Bill Hicks, two of the Comedy Workshop’s most prominent alumni who will be featured in Stand Up Story. Fellow Houston products Brett Butler and Janeane Garafalo have also been featured in hour long biographies just about them. This project brings these four together in context with dozens of fellow comics and features loads of brand new material.

Jerry Seinfeld’s feature Comic drew large audiences and got rave reviews in telling the story of Jerry’s quest to write a new act for the road. A Boston producer completed a documentary about Boston comics, names which include Steven Wright, Lenny Clark, Kenny Rogerson, Kevin Meany and others. Comedy is king.

Cable networks which have purchased and aired similar projects include HBO, Showtime, A&E, Comedy Central, Bravo, and even PBS. E! Entertainment Network was the initial outlet for Brett Butler’s bio-doc, and they still air the best of the Sam Kinison documentaries five years after the first showing. The most recent Bill Hicks bio was an excellently done piece that showed on the Trio Network and later on HBO. In short, the TV networks in need of this type of informative and humorous programming are numerous.

Another secondary market is film festivals, most of which have one or more documentary categories. Those rights can often be retained even after a network has purchased the right to air the show for a certain period of time. While the direct monetary return from these festivals is generally not high, the publicity for the project can translate into direct sales of DVDs and tapes.

Finally, at least a portion of those direct sales will be returned to the production entity. Most networks will wish to control the direct sales during the term of the contract, but a split of proceeds is negotiated.

Contact Mike Vance about Stand Up Story