||COVER STORY page
featuring | Matt Brown | Bill Word | Albert Taylor | Rob Tanaka | Rebecca Kraus | Gene Zimmerman | Sean Mattison | Michael Villani | Tom Call
Profession: Comedy Producer, Stand-Up Comic and Comedy Teacher
Name/Place of business: Word-Up Productions, Inc.
How long in this business: 14 years
What you like best about your job: “I get to influence a lot of lives: I help comedians become better and reach their dreams; I entertain hundreds of people a week; and people have met and fallen in love in my workshops.”
They say laughter feeds the soul. Fortunately for 46-year-old Bill Word, it also feeds his bank account. Word, who started his professional life as a software engineer, now engineers laughs as one of the busiest comedy producers and teachers — in Orange County.
It’s difficult to make a living in comedy, unless you’re a Jay Leno. But Word has managed to do the near impossible. In just four years, this veteran stand-up comic, who once appeared on ABC’s “America’s Funniest People,” has transformed Martini Blues, a popular jazz and supper club in Huntington Beach, into a very-happening jazz and supper club with comedy shows four nights a week.
What started out as a gamble (Word quit his day job) running a room where amateur funny people could polish their acts has turned into a comedy central for aspiring comedians, thanks in large part to the hugely successful contests created by marketing-savvy Word: Orange County’s Funniest Person Contest (his original brainchild), California’s Funniest Female Contest and the Ultimate Laff-Down, an ongoing comedy competition (http://www.killerkomedy.com/).
“The Funniest Person Contest is very popular with local comedians. There are bragging rights that go with winning it,” says Word, whose well-known, local contests have stirred interest from the national press and the “Tonight Show.”
But for Word, the big payoff is seeing new comedians build confidence, performance after performance, and grow into their talent. “I actually develop comics at Martini Blues, unlike L.A. comedy clubs where it’s about who you know and who your management is.” Word has given valuable stage time to nearly 500 up-and-comers so far. He also teaches comedy classes two days a week.
“I think stand-up is the most difficult thing you can do in entertainment, next to singing in front of Simon on “American Idol.” In comedy, you know instantaneously how well you’re doing by the response of the crowd.”
How did this comic get his start? “My two sisters and mother like to talk. At dinner, I’d get one line a night, so I had to make it good.”
His long-term goal: “I’m working on making Martini Blues a world-class comedy club.” It could happen. Mark this Word.