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What Type of Comedy Foundation Are You Building?

Comedian on the stage

A few weeks ago, I met a comic while performing at a friend’s show in the Upper East Sid

After the show we had the chance to interact and talk comedy. This particular comic is a bi-coastal comedian with projects in both New York and Los Angeles. He’s performed at Just For Laughs and has been seen on Funny or Die, College Humor, and TBS, so naturally I wanted to hear what he had to say about the business.

After a lengthy conversation, he informed me that I had potential to be a really strong “club comic.” This intrigued me because I always had my eyes on doing EVERYTHING should I ever be so lucky.

He then explained to me that every comic needs to build a solid foundation to get noticed so that you know your market and can build credibility off of that audience. After that he disappeared, never to be seen again.

I’m totally kidding about his disappearance. I’ve seen him around, but his words of wisdom have stuck with me since that conversation and it has begun to make more sense as I have thought about it.

Here are my thoughts and what I’ve come to realize.

The foundation you build establishes your audience

Let’s say, hypothetically, I decide on taking a targeted approach at establishing myself as a club comic. My material can be seen as brutally honest, morbid, and dark (thanks again for the review, Stellar Underground). The club scene would be ideal for my style because anything goes at a club and you have free reign to be more risqué which comedy club audiences expect.

This is not to say that a more clean comic cannot appeal to the club scene, but there are different avenues for such comics to gain traction and build an audience with things such as corporations, charity fundraisers, etc.

Ultimately, an audience is an audience and you have to see what audience works best for you and your comedy brand.

Use your foundation to build credibility

One of the common fears most comics have with taking a targeted approach is that if they only focus on one type of audience they’ll get pigeonholed into just appealing to that audience.

However, if you can navigate the business wisely you can use this targeted approach with building a strong reputation to appeal to more audiences in the future and eventually branch off into other areas.

The goal for every comic is a late night spot. We all know this, but no one is just handed a late night spot. They have to grind is out somewhere, be seen at certain festivals, earn other credits, etc. before anyone even thinks about them for a late night spot.

A strong foundation allows bookers, agents, and producers to know what they can do with you immediately and your potential for the future. If you can make someone money immediately you have their attention, but if you have potential for longevity then you’re golden.

No two comics ever have the same story for their uprise; it’s up to you what you want to do and everyone has to start somewhere to earn their stripes.

What are your thoughts on building a foundation as a comic? Comment below and tell us!

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