Almost every time I watch a successful comedian’s special or headlining spot at a club, there is one thing that always sticks out to me: how much they push it in their performance.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a show hosted by Laughing Affairs that featured talent from all over the city including headliner, Jessica Kirson, who I have seen perform on multiple occasions.
One thing about Jessica Kirson that ALWAYS makes me pay attention is her commitment to her set. She’s animated, sarcastic, and will say things you can really only laugh at with your hand over your mouth so you don’t feel as bad.
As a producer for Comedians on the Loose, one of the biggest rewards is working with talent from all over whether it is our headliners or feature acts. Being in this position allows us to have a realistic assessment of who will likely make it in this business because of how much they push their efforts.
Here are my thoughts.
The more you push it, the more impact you have
It’s a general rule of business and essentially life:
Think about a comic that spends weeks (maybe even months) writing and perfecting a joke and performing it for months on end only to be met with lukewarm responses at open mics. Then one day, it finally clicks and becomes one of their best jokes and has a genuine appeal in any room.
Don’t think for a second that this is stroke of luck. It’s a result of hard work and dedication to perfecting that joke and committing to the performance.
There’s a saying I’ve heard consistently on the scene when it comes to bad performances: “maybe the comic had an ‘off’ night?” As comics, we don’t really have the luxury of having an “off” night because that “off” feeling shouldn’t affect the job you are hired to do. In my opinion, it’s a cop out. I’ve seen many comics perform knowing of the story for them feeling “off” prior to the performance; they still killed it and this is because they pushed through the crap so they wouldn’t lose the impact in their set.
Pushing it really offsets your level of impact. If you perform half-heartedly then you’ll get a half-hearted response. Plain and simple.
Pushing the envelope has a different meaning for everyone
Pushing the envelope with comedy can mean a variety of different things. We may push our performance in certain ways such as doing act outs, discussing hot button topics, or making seemingly mundane topics funny.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be exclusive to performance either as there are so many facets of your comedy business; one of these areas is production.
It’s incredibly common for comedians to engage in production and you have to push even harder to get a production noticed because like comedians, the scene is oversaturated with productions and many of them reek of a half-assed effort. You never want that to plague your brand.
Whether it’s networking, building a brand, or creating content, you have to push hard to have your audience pay attention so you can achieve your overall goals. When people see you pounding the pavement and making the right moves, chances are someone with potential to help you achieve your dreams will be attracted to what you are offering.
When it boils down to it, what you do and how much effort you exert will make the difference. It’s all about increasing the probability of opportunities to come your way. There are instances where people who don’t work as hard get opportunities, but if you notice, those opportunities don’t have longevity in them and fizzle over time.
How much you push it prepares you for the long haul of being a success and it’ll be worth it when you reach that point where you can say you’ve made it.
Got questions or something to add? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!