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Doing Too Much As A Comedian

I wrote a blog back in January discussing the concept of comedy becoming oversaturated and how it can seem there is too much going on with comedy in general.

Just about everyone is producing a show, performing so many times a week, appearing on podcasts, etc. that it can make the element of oversaturation apparent not just to the connoisseurs of comedy, but for the comedians themselves.

While gaining exposure is by far the most important element to building your career, comics need to understand there is a line between gaining that exposure and doing too much.

Here are my thoughts.

Being everywhere can backfire

It’s a confusing concept to want to gain as much exposure as possible and then it being too much, but it is a fine line. One prominent comic that comes to mind for over-exposure is Amy Schumer. While Schumer is currently one of the top names in comedy and her rising star was seen as a positive, there has been an extended period of annoyance when it comes to hearing about her. Whether it’s her recent headline grabbing antics or one of her many projects, not everyone is as excited as they once were to hear about her.

In many ways the constant exposure has backfired and even affected rating for Inside Amy Schumer. Instead of holding on to the “must see” tag, she has been deemed “inescapable.” Not exactly a good thing, right?

Now, Schumer is an extreme example, but if you think about it at the ameteur level, it’s extremely possible to get caught in the cycle of doing too much. One way I have seen comics do too much is doing excessive bringer shows. Think about being that comic who is always on bringer shows. It’s fine to do a few every now and again, but the honest truth is that for bringers, your friends are your audience. If you have a large group of friends it can be worth it to do a bringer a few times a year.

Now think about intensifying your number of bringers to every month (I have seen this done). Over time you become that friend where you have people saying “oh great, another one?” Especially if you’re a novice comic where your comedy isn’t as good as it will be further down the line, it can leave a negative impression of you as a comic amongst your peers. The goal is to have people want more of you, not grow tired of you.

Focus on quality over quantity

Quality over quantity is a great strategy many comics can adopt and benefit from over time. It looks at everything with the mindset of “what will I gain out of this?” Are you going to gain anything for being on a particular show, podcast, sketch, etc. or are you doing them just to do them? If you can ensure there is good reasoning behind something then it makes for a better impact.

Even with something as simple as open mics and becoming a better performer, you need to focus on quality over quantity.

When I took the stand up comedy class with Jim Mendrinos at Gotham Comedy Club, one thing always stuck with me with what Jim told us:

“If you’re going to an open mic, make sure you have a goal like ‘I want to be more physical’ or ‘I want to project my voice more.’ Just have something in mind. Don’t do it just because you want to say you got up on stage.”

This lesson made sense because we lead busy lives as comics and wasting time is never going to benefit us. I learned that I’d rather do three or four productive mics every week where I grow as a comic than one every day and just go through the motions for some of them. I’ve even seen it happen where comics get up every day and they end up getting worse. Kind of counterproductive if you think about it.

Now, one week may change from the next and you have to be able to adapt your strategy of quality over quantity. Maybe you have an important show you’re preparing for and need to iron out your set? As long as there is something to be gained then it will make sense and apply to projects even beyond the stage.

If you approach comedy with the concept of achieving quality then you will be golden. Remember that you don’t have to do EVERYTHING, especially if it has no impact on what you are trying to achieve because not everything will be a real opportunity. Focus on doing things well rather than having too much on your plate.

Got questions or something to add? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!

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