Comedy is one of those professions where you often wear many hats and adapt to different roles. One day you are a comedian performing on stage, the next you could be a producer for a show. Sometimes you’re doing both in the same setting.
When you have the opportunity to be able to be so adaptable, you gain better insight to what is being done right and what needs to change, not only in yourself, but also your comedy community.
Here’s some things I have seen several comics do that not only leaves a bad impression, but can hurt your overall potential as an aspiring comic.
Being pushy about opportunities
When an opportunity is tangible, it’s a natural human reaction to do everything we can to get it. Whether that opportunity is appearing in a show, making networking connections, etc. the excitement behind it can be enough to make us go crazy.
For the comic, it can seem harmless sending a message and asking for information or if you can appear in someone else’s work. How else are you going to get yourself out there without being assertive? This is exactly where comics take it too far and end up going from assertive to being pushy and annoying.
I can recall a time I was approached by a comic through social media for a spot on the Comedians on the Loose Gotham showcase. Okay, fine. He wasn’t the first to approach me via social airways in hopes of getting a spot on the show. I politely declined his request for an immediate spot and gave him insight to getting cast on the show. Later he kept sending me links to events he was performing on saying I should come to see him and hopefully that would gain him a spot at Gotham. Not exactly what I had explained and left me kind of annoyed. Fast forward a couple of weeks to the March 2018 showcase and he showed up trying to approach me while I was busy taping the show where I indicated that it wasn’t a good time; he lingered by the camera for a few more minutes and then gave me his business card before leaving mid-show. I later receive a message from the comic asserting since he made an appearance at our show I was obligated to come to his show. Nothing was ever agreed upon that there’d be a show exchange and it ultimately left me with a bad taste in my mouth. This is one of the more extreme examples, but there definitely is an extent you can push things before people write you off. Annoyance is one of the worst feelings to make someone experience and people tend to remember the bad feelings more than the good; if someone reaches that point with you (especially those with opportunities) where your pushiness crosses the line, don’t expect them to think of you for future opportunities.
Professionalism applies to many situations as comics. It can be tricky sometimes as comics because from a societal viewpoint, we are expected to be the funny ones or the jokesters. In many ways we are rebels to what is the norm.
However, there are situations where regardless of what we do, you are supposed to carry yourself with professionalism, especially when it comes to business. For business sake this means showing up on time, adhering to the guidelines set by a producer or club, doing your research, communicating in a timely manner, etc.
You might think that these are so simple, but it really is surprising how many comics don’t do these simple things and don’t realize the negative impression they are building.
Even with personal branding, there are certain things comics have to show to get booked. Sometimes something as simple as lacking a headshot can cost you a gig. It seems trivial, but if you look at it from a production viewpoint, no one wants to put a selfie or a subpar zoomed in image on a promotional flyer. Not only does it bring down the quality of what the producer is trying to achieve, but it’s an indication of lack of seriousness. Lacking a headshot might seem like a novice mistake, but you’d be shocked at how many veterans on the scene don’t see this as a priority and they wonder why they haven’t gotten further in comedy.
Falling short of what you are selling
This is probably the icing on the cake for why many comics don’t get booked or get booked once and never repeat that booking again, but selling yourself as a great comic and falling short is incredibly damaging to not only your peers’ impression of you, but also to your audience. This is exactly the reason why even for the Gotham shows, we primarily book comics we have seen perform and don’t field inquiries from people we’ve never met before or those who push so hard because they think they are ready. We’ve only done it a few times in the past and each time the comic didn’t live up to their hype and it ultimately decreased the quality of the show.
A lot of this plays into ego, but if you are trying to get booked and aren’t living up to what you put out there, slowly but surely you will see opportunities dwindle. You never want to have someone regret booking you and regret (like annoyance) is something no one likes, especially when it comes to their business.
In conclusion, the best advice to follow in this business is to put your best foot forward. Strike the right balance between going too far and not doing enough with your efforts and you will see the difference. It’s all up to you how to proceed.
Got questions or something to add? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!