Comedian Steve Hofstetter has made a career out of doing things differently. His new book is, well, no different.

"The traditional path to entertainment success is a traffic jam of people desperately trying to all reach the same exit," Hofstetter said. "I did what I do when the freeways are clogged. I took surface streets."

As he details in his hilarious new book, "Ginger Kid: Mostly True Tales of a Former Nerd,"  Hofstetter first got into comedy in high school, when he joined the school's improv group at the behest of an unrequited crush. His first break came in college when he began writing a self-published column that was picked up by CollegeHumor.com - before they were the mammoth that they are today.

"I emailed over a dozen websites about college life to see if they'd let me write for them for free," Hofstetter said. "The only one that got back to me was College Humor. At the time, the staff was the two founders and a third guy doing videos. And they're the only one that said yes."

Upon graduating college, Hofstetter learned that stand-up was not going to be an easy path to take professionally and he had to make his own luck again.

Hofstetter hit the road and stayed with friends and relatives and slept on couches and floors and in a car when he had to. The pitch was to student groups at various colleges - fraternities and sororities, sports teams, cultural organizations. Hofstetter would perform at a fundraiser with no guarantee of getting paid if he could keep the first $500 they raised, and one third of everything on top of that.

"Sometimes I'd drive 12 hours to make $40. Sometimes I'd drive 40 minutes to make $1200," Hofstetter said. "I never really knew what I was walking into. But it worked."

Hofstetter wasn't getting booked at enough comedy clubs, so began producing his own shows - and now runs Comedy Juice, the most popular live stand-up show in LA and NYC. Hofstetter wasn't getting acting work so he concentrated on his YouTube channel - he now has 275,000 subscribers and 85 million views. Hofstetter wasn't getting cast in other people's projects so he began pitching his own and has now hosted and produced multiple TV shows.

Hofstetter's new book is a perfect example of him not playing within the system.

Instead of going the traditional route of crafting a proposal in order to try to land an agent, Hofstetter started writing. He began writing short stories on his Facebook page, many of which caught on. One story (about getting revenge on a woman who refused to clean up after her dog in the airport) went so viral that it was covered by publications on six continents.

Even Hofstetter's manager (Russell Best) is independent, running his own firm out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Best showed Hofstetter's stories to a literary agent, who helped him craft the proposal that would eventually become "Ginger Kid".

Ginger Kid, which is made up of a collection of always funny and sometimes touching personal essays about getting though bullying in high school, has a pretty clear message.

"I wrote this book because I wish I had it to read when I was 14," Hofstetter said, "You can let others hold you back. I almost did. Or you can put your head down, put the work in, and put them in your rearview mirror."

And Hofstetter has been doing that ever since.

What can you put in your rearview mirror today? 

Published on: Mar 20, 2018