Never Be Afraid to Take A Risk In Comedy
I have been thinking a lot about my passion for comedy and building a career in it.
In September 2017, I walked away from a full-time job to pursue my true career interests (comedy, duh). These past months since then have been very interesting to say the least and I’ll never regret doing what I did because it helped me grow as an individual.
In that time, I accepted a full-time position for yet ANOTHER job that had no relevance to my career aspirations and now I’m finding myself regretting the decision. I’m planning to quit that job soon as well (shhhh. Don’t tell anyone).
In making this seemingly abrupt decision, I realized why I couldn’t just bite the bullet and stick with this new full-time job: I wasn’t being true to myself.
I knew I wasn’t being true to myself when watching an interview with Bethenny Frankel and Ellen DeGeneres from 2012. Bethenny said in regards to her success:
“...I just had a lot of ‘no’s’ in my life. I’ve always had a certain vision and a certain dream and it’s changed. I talk about [in the book] ‘all roads lead to Rome’...always being on the road. You’ll never know where you’re going to end up and you might get derailed but you always have to be on the road and I always have.”
She later explains she “wanted to be successful” but for a lot of her life she “made decisions out of fear instead of truth and wanted to be financially supported by a man to do all of this.” However, she “could never stick to that” and always found herself “going back to the road.”
Stop letting fear influence your decisions
Now, I am well aware Bethenny Frankel is not a stand-up comic, but her experiences felt somewhat parallel to my own. The parallel for me comes for the idealized need for financial support to feel like you can do what you truly want to do.
I took a job I didn’t want based out of fear; even staying at my previous full-time job as long as I did was a decision based in fear. Regardless of the salary, it was a certain level of security that I was used to having because it was always there.
Now that I technically have the security again, it is in many ways driving me crazy and making life more stressful since I used the time I wasn’t working to really develop myself in comedy and production for Comedians on the Loose (hence the decision to leave).
Even when it comes to things specifically with stand-up, comics should never live in fear because it holds you back from really knowing your true potential. What was “fear” for Frankel manifests itself differently for comics. Perhaps you are fearful a seemingly offensive joke won’t go over well or you don’t want to try out a new character because it’s out of your comfort zone?
Living this way will only hold you back from taking the much needed risks this industry requires to be successful. No one ever got anywhere by being “safe.”
Everyone’s truth is going to be different
Now, my personal truth is not going to be the same as the next person’s and “truth” is going to change from one scenario to the next. Maybe now your truth is having security or developing a character on stage? In a year that could change.
Just remember that believing in what you want is the most important thing to building something successful.
Take into account something like production. When Sonja Savanovic and I formed the COTL show at Gotham Comedy Club, we wanted it to be a no-bringer show. Period.
From the beginning, a no-bringer show was seen as impossible to make successful, especially when the majority of the talent showcased was relatively new and the market is oversaturated with bringer shows. However, we believed in the concept and really pushed what we thought was possible and in line with our vision. What went from a show where it was difficult to even get a date now has the first half of 2018 mapped out with show dates and it’s because we stuck to our concept and chose not to compromise our truth.
Even if it’s your own personal stand-up writing or other career aspirations, sticking to what you believe in for your personal career can get you further than you may think.
It can be very taxing navigating the comedy world; from just trying to get noticed to being fully immersed and being involved in projects, it takes a lot to keep going and hold on to that passion.
Comedy never gets easier, and it’s comical to think that it will. You must believe in your truth and continue on the road if you really want to be successful.
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