Why did the identical twins cross the road? To tell NSFW jokes at the Improv!

smash_brothers_cory_n_chadIdentical twins Cory and Chad Baumgartner — “The Smash Brothers” — have a unique approach to the business of comedy they’ve used to fuel their careers as comedians. They operate their act under the perfectly named company: Identical Entertainment. Born and raised east of Los Angeles, the brothers had a challenging yet character building childhood:  they attended more than 14 schools! To help make friends they embraced the role of class clowns. It worked!

Those experiences drew them close to each other, strengthening already genetically close ties. They now consider themselves each others best friends. Interestingly, even though they look alike, Cory and Chad are very different: Cory is the “Good Twin” with a laid back style and calm demeanor (he  doesn’t drink or party). Chad is the “Evil Twin,”a bad boy type, who, with his wild party stories, always keeps Cory on his toes.

Their lives are intertwined at almost every level:  they have switched college classes, broken up with each others girlfriends, showed up to work for each other, and even used each others drivers licenses (allegedly). You really never know what to expect with these two: although they are identical twins, their act is one of a kind!

I first encountered the brothers after I praised the Hollywood Improv on how effectively they leveraged their Facebook page. I added that, whenever I teach public speaking courses, I always discuss the impressive public speaking skills of successful comedians. Shortly thereafter I received a message from Cory and Chad offering to come speak to a class of mine.

Comedians Cory and Chad with Matthew Gilbert at National UniversityA public speaking class I teach at National University — COM103, Public Speaking — was a perfect fit. On Saturday, June 4, 2011, they spent nearly 2 hours (with their colleague Mark Gonzalez).  They enthusiastically shared their experiences as comedians with my students. Cory and Chad also provided my students with inspiring and insightful ideas about pursuing their passions. It was a sincere and soft-spoken experience (especially considering how energetic their stage act is).

On Friday, March 30, 2012 everything came full circle: I attended their show at the Hollywood Improv. This was my first time attending their show; it was as wild and whimsical as I imagined! After the show, they spent time with me, sharing insights into their entrepreneurial experiences and efforts as independent comedians. They discussed how, in addition to social media, they continue to use traditional marketing tools (something I stress in my classes). They also mentioned that the marketing tricks they use can translate to any small businesses or entrepreneurial effort.

You can watch the interview in the video below. Note: This video contains some mild profanity (Cory and Chad speak from their hearts). As a result, you might want to avoid watching this at work or in mixed company (or wear headphones). But, I assure you, the insights Cory and Chad share are invaluable.

Here are the top 10 tips from the interview:

1. Accept the Benefits of Bombing: accept that bombing on stage is a good thing; it will light the fire under you to do better next time and improve your act.

2. Be Patient, but Persistent: Comedy is a tough business; it takes years to “get paid” and finally realize results from your efforts.

3. Dedicate Yourself to Your Dream: work for the recognition of your writing and the reward of making your audience laugh; you’re going to hear “no” a lot so anchor yourself to your idea and let that motivate you through the tough times.

4. Embrace Word of Mouth Marketing: Cory and Chad worked every audience after each show, handing out flyers and building relationships with their audience.

5. Invest in Marketing Yourself: the brothers paid people to place 5,000 flyers on cars at concerts or other events. Their expectation was a modest 5 people from each effort; they were willing to invest the money on the exponential potential of getting their name out their and leveraging their brand awareness.

6. Make Your Money on the Road: Building your brand in comedy is not something you can do casually or comfortably; you need to hit the road and tour comedy clubs across the country — around the world if possible too!

7. Maximize Every Moment: the brothers got their break while joking in line at a Starbucks; a club promoter was also in line and thought they were funny. Cory and Chad said they were stand-up comedians and he gave them 5 minutes on stage at the Improv that night!

8. Promote Yourself and Believe in Your Potential: don’t expect a comedy club to promote you; take responsibility for your own marketing and put your heart into it.

9. Put the Effort in You Want to See Returned: show business is just that — a business; to build an empire you need to keep building your brand, work hard, and keep improving your comedic craft.

10. Use Every Promotional Option Available: Cory and Chad have used Craigslist, e-mail blasts, Facebook, MySpace, radio commercials, Twitter, and even 5″ x 7″ promotional cards they hand out after shows.

Smash it!

On Saturday, September 2, 2006 I “officially” enrolled in my second career: teaching. It was on that date that I taught — of all subjects — my first traffic school class! Crammed with 40 students into the meeting room of a motel in Woodland Hills, CA without working air conditioning on a 100+ degree day —  it was almost literally trial by fire!

After Teaching a Public Speaking Class at National University in Los Angeles, CA (10/29/2010)In the five years that followed I have matured immeasurably as an instructor and managed to forge my own path into the world of academia. I now teach a variety of on-line and on-campus marketing, management, communication and writing classes (in addition to the occasional traffic school class).

The schools for which I now teach include UC Santa Barbara (Extension), UCLA (Extension), National University, Strayer University, and Axia College of University of Phoenix.

While teaching at these (and other) schools, I’ve had the privilege of learning with students from countries including Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait,  Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, Russia, Spain, Taiwain, the Philippines, and Turkey.

For those of you curious about how I have found my way to teaching opportunities, my most common methods are through personal referrals, social media relationships, postings in the Education/Teaching Jobs section of Craigslist, HigherEdJobs.com and the jobs section of the Chronicle of Higher Education website.

Although I am dedicated to continually improving, I am confident in my abilities to create curriculum, inspire my students and manage a classroom. My students respond positively to my methods and I appreciate their consistently positive reviews. I’ve also become quite adept at driving all over Southern California to teach! On a related note, I am grateful for having taught traffic school: it helped me develop a casual, yet professional style in my classes.

Feeling Content Before Teaching a Class at DeVry University in Bakersfield, CA (1/27/2009)Numerically speaking, by my estimation, I have taught more than 150 classes (roughly 115 college level classes and 39 traffic school classes) and have learned with approximately 2,200 students! I am honored to have shared a learning experience with so many students and look forward to the individuals with whom I will have an opportunity to learn in the next five years!

Speaking of which, as a lifelong learner, I embrace Søren Kierkegaard’s idea that “to be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner.” I join with my students on a journey towards generative learning which, according to Peter Senge, “enhances our capacity to create.” Learning generatively connects existing knowledge about a subject with emerging ideas about it, resulting in a more personalized understanding. In a classroom, a generative learning approach encourages students to individually engage material rather than passively listen to lectures.

It is for this reason that I am motivated by the motto “semper discens, semper faciens,” which translates to “learn continuously, live generatively.” To help my students learn generatively, I avoid assignments that require repetition of information in deference to papers, presentations and projects that provide a platform with which they can confront personal or professional issues. When possible, I customize curriculum to meet the needs of each class and am responsive to change throughout the term.

Acting as a “guide on the side” and not a “sage on the stage,” I combine learning with laughter and encourage students to pursue their individual ideas. Having taught students of various ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds, I am especially sensitive to the diverse challenges with which my students might be contending. Considering this, I believe an educational environment should encourage students to compete with themselves, not with each other. Learning should create community, not competition. When one of us succeeds, all of us succeed.

After Teaching a Marketing Class at UC Santa Barbara (10/28/2010)Interdisciplinary by nature, I teach courses in business, communication, English, technology and traffic safety. While each discipline is distinct, I consider their common intersection with humanity, technology and industry. I often include elements of one or more of them in every class, regardless of its primary focus. I encourage my students to shatter preconceptions and create meaningful knowledge.

In summary, although it can be as challenging as it is rewarding, teaching allows me to help shape the lives of others while giving my life greater meaning.

3384976248_1a320a0753_zBy coincidence October 30, 2008, marked two very special events in my professional life: my first anniversary at DeVry University in Bakersfield and the day on which I learned that I was hired as an adjunct instructor by National University.

My tenure at DeVry has been nothing short of life altering. For me, being hired at DeVry marks the moment when I officially became a “real live” classroom teacher. Although I had already been hired to teach online courses for Axia College of University of Phoenix, there was something incredibly validating about being in a classroom.

I suddenly felt like a legitimate teacher — as if I had finally emerged as an educator.

I can partially thank my experience with Axia as one of the reasons why, as a relatively unproven teacher, I was hired at DeVry (though I did teach traffic school, so that must have counted for something, right?). I must also acknowledge Center Dean Barry J. Bailey for taking a chance on me.  His decision to let me initially teach two courses on a trial basis has fundamentally changed the course of my career (and, to be honest, my life).

Since embarking on my relatively new career in academia, each new school at which I am hired leads to another opportunity. There is something affirming and encouraging about this experience (and it is one that I hadn’t encountered for some years prior to venturing into teaching).

I have also realized how intertwined my experiences have been at every school where I have taught and am teaching: I continuously learn from each situation, thereby improving my overall aptitude as an educator. Whether it is sharing best practices with colleagues, receiving guidance from my supervisors or as simple as listening to my students, I am in a constant state of learning. In the year since I started teaching at DeVry there I have taught 16 sections of the following business, computer and English courses:

  • BUSN-115 (Introduction to Business and Technology)
  • COMP-100 (Computer Applications for Business with Lab)
  • COMP-129 (PC Hardware and Software)
  • ENGL-032 (Developmental Writing and Reading)
  • ENGL-092 (Intermediate English)
  • ENGL-112 (Composition)
  • ENGL-135 (Advanced Composition)
  • MGMT-303 (Principles of Management)
  • MGMT-404 (Project Management)

I continue to grow and mature as an individual and instructor at DeVry and look forward to many more years at this respected and forward-thinking educational organization. I am also anticipating teaching some new courses in the coming months, which should provide added energy and excitement to my experience there.

National University promises to be another exciting step in my career development.  Once again, I have Los Angeles Craigslist Education and Teaching Jobs to thank for this lead and Bettina Moss  for giving me another wonderful opportunity. Again, I can’t stress the impact that a few key individuals have had on my professional progress. Their generosity is even more notable considering that other individuals who I already knew and asked for assistance have sometimes been less than helpful. This is definitely a lesson in “paying it forward!”

As explained on it’s website:

“National University is the second-largest, private, nonprofit institution of higher learning in California. Founded in 1971, National University consists of five schools and one college, including the Schools of Business and Management; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and Media and Communication; and the College of Letters and Sciences.”

Additionally, National is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and is also non-profit — a notable distinction. I previously had known National University as a resource for individuals seeking a teaching credential and an avenue for active educators seeking advanced degrees. National University also offers more than 50 graduate and undergraduate degrees — with more than 1,200 courses online.

National University courses are a quick four weeks in duration: eight four-hour classroom meetings during the week and two four-hour Saturday sessions. In comparison, DeVry courses are eight weeks in length (with one or two physical meetings a week depending on the course type) and Axia courses are nine-weeks of entirely online education. At first I will be teaching traditional classroom-based courses at the Los Angeles Campus (which is near Los Angeles International Airport), but eventually I might teach in a hybrid model similar to that which DeVry uses.

The courses I was hired to teach include the following (though as of today I have only been scheduled to teach one section of the first course, COM-103, Oral Communication, which is set to begin at the end of November.

And, so it is with great gratitude that I look back to my last year of teaching at DeVry and even more excitement that I look ahead to another year of continued career development!