Comics are the type of artist where you really have to draw upon experience to command the stage and speak with real honesty. It’s how we connect ourselves to not only the material, but also the audience.
I recently went to brunch with another comic (yes, I do brunch). During that brunch the conversation turned itself to living life and how some people we know are so consumed by comedy and being comics that they are in many ways holding themselves back; they ultimately become the bitter souls that frequent open mics almost too often only to realize they aren’t getting better or aren’t where they would like to be in comedy.
It then donned on me that I hadn’t gone to brunch with a comic or anyone for that matter in over a year. I also realized I rarely go out when it’s not something comedy related. As we continued the conversation and the rest of the day this particular comic enlightened me more about the disservice comics do to themselves when they don’t live life and just engross themselves with the “comedy, comedy, comedy” mindset.
This is what I learned.
Experiences outside of comedy support your actual comedy.
Think about the time before you actually did your first open mic.
Whether you bombed or did well, how did you get that material? You drew upon experiences from your life. That’s typically where most comics pull from when they start out whether it’s talking about the girl who you thought was dead when she jumped off the swings or the wasp attack at your grandmother’s house; it was still experiences that supported your ability to come up with material.
As you get deeper into comedy you begin to think differently about your experiences and are much quicker in seeing the comedy in a given situation. You really need to get out there to experience everything possible so you can tell the audience your story.
Not living life will lead to burnout.
Believe me, burnout in comedy is a high possibility. Even I have experienced it from time to time.
Most recently I was subject to an extended period of burnout. With working on my personal standup, coupled with production, and some sudden life changes, I had reached that point of being done...not with comedy, but the mountain of pressure I felt.
It also occurred to me that not living my life outside of comedy was a big contributor to experiencing burnout.
When you’re so consumed by your aspirations it’s difficult to break from that. You just get so enthralled with honing your craft that you kind of forget there is life outside of your passions.
One thing comics need to remember is we aren’t corporate professionals where the mindset usually lends itself to “work, work, work.” Yes, you must be dedicated to your craft but it takes a balance of honing your craft and living your life to truly make things work. You can draw upon inspiration more readily and you won’t end up resenting what you love doing: comedy.
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