Those who have watched America’s Got Talent or any reality show around child talent competitions know just how many children are out there who are born entertainers. They also know how competitive the entertainment industry is and how difficult it can be for young, up-and-coming entertainers to get noticed.
With dreams of being the next Disney Channel darling or Nickelodeon star, most child entertainers need to be a triple or even quadruple threat: they have to be able to act, sing, dance and, oftentimes, perform comedy. Most children arrive with some dance and musical training and even some experience in acting, but very few show up with comedic skills.
Adam Richmond is a Los Angeles-based comedian known for high-energy performances, a sharp wit and an almost larger than life stage presence. He’s also someone who over the years has offered to use his experience to guide children who have comedic ambitions.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Richmond was one of the top headliners to come from the country and has toured as a comedian across the United States, Canada and even internationally. He’s also been featured on Last Comic Standing, Last Call with Carson Daly and has had his hands as a writer and producer on plenty of projects in LA.
Working alongside Collette Craan, founder of Standing Tall Comedy Kids and Teens, Adam Richmond has spent time over the past couple years writing jokes for young, aspiring entertainers, helping them perfect their comedic timing, punching up their delivery, and, most importantly, giving them the right material to boost their confidence.
Significantly, Richmond also understands what the big studios are looking for when it comes to young talent. He’s done extensive voice over work with Disney, signed with one of the most influential VO talent agents in the business and recently filmed a guest role for a TV show on Nickelodeon.
“Collette saw me perform at a few spots around LA and I guess she liked it. So, she asked me to work with her kids,” Adam Richmond recounts. “From there, she started sending me some of the material the kids had written and I would go through it and try to figure out what they’re really saying and try to make it work. Maybe help them get some laughs…or twelve”
While being funny may come naturally to Richmond, transitioning from his brand of adult comedy to the mindset of writing for a younger audience has proven to be the most challenging part.
“Because they are so young, their life experience is quite limited. So, I have to remember that when I help them with their jokes,” continues Richmond. “I see a lot of mom and dad jokes and bits about their teachers and being in school. That kind of material makes sense. After all, those are the things that are most relevant to them. It would be weird if the joke had them in the back of a bar, smoking a cigarette, talking about all their past relationships gone bad (he laughs)…or would it?”
Keeping this in mind, Richmond takes the material the kids write and are comfortable with and ‘punches it up’ as he calls it. This often requires writing directional notes such as, ‘Throw arms up here,’ or ‘do an impersonation of your mom’s voice here’, making him more of a director and teacher than just a joke writer.
Richmond’s work culminates when the children from Standing Tall Comedy Kids and Teens perform in two showcases each year. Held at the Hollywood Improv and the Edgemar Centre, the young comedians take to the stage to perform their jokes and showcase their talent in front of a live crowd AKA their parents and friends.
“That’s where it all pays off,” smiles Richmond. “It’s almost like a proud dad moment watching them perform and hearing the crowd laugh at their jokes.”
Because of everyone’s busy schedule, these performances are often the first chance Richmond gets to meet these young joke slingers in person. Having the opportunity to speak with the kids he has written material for is a truly rewarding experience.
“They will come up to me and thank me and say stuff like you made the jokes so funny,” says Richmond. “It’s incredibly great to get a chance like that to interact with these talented kids.”
With veteran comedians taking the time to nurture the next generation, we can all rest assure that the future will be funny indeed.
Photo courtesy of Adam Richmond
Guest Author Bio
Alice Pugh is a childhood educator and freelance writer. Alice has previously taught English abroad and is passionate about writing on a variety of topics including education, technology, travel, business and fitness. Considering herself a type of cultural anthropologist, Alice enjoys learning about new cultures and traditions through the stories of people. In her spare time, she enjoys staying active through regular yoga and Pilates classes. She is also an active board member and volunteer with a number of local charity boards and organizations.