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Comedian Question: Who Are You?

Who are you?

Seems like a simple enough question, but it’s actually pretty complicated if you think about it.

When I ask “who are you?” I don’t mean you in your daily life that likes to go apple picking or binge watch Netflix. This isn’t your Tinder profile.

What I’m referring to is the comedic identity we each possess that greatly influences our writing and performance. This identity helps decide your brand to further carve out your path as a comedian.

Some comedians go throughout their entire time in comedy not fully understanding their identity. They may get certain elements of building their identity, but for the most part never fully realize it.

Here are my thoughts.

Vulnerability reveals your real identity.

In my time doing comedy and seeing others perform, the one thing that makes me take notice is when a comic shows vulnerability.

What exactly is vulnerability? For me, vulnerability as having the willingness and courage to be exposed. For comics, this is essential because vulnerability is what allows us to connect to our audience. Maybe the material isn’t the most relatable, but being vulnerable shows people who you are so they can find something to like about you.

Too often I see comics stay superficial with their writing; they’ll talk about television, politics, current events, etc.

In the moment it might be funny, but it often leaves audiences feeling like they don’t know anything about the comic and they end up being forgettable. Not everyone can do what Dave Chappelle and comedians like him do, so it’s imperative to dig deep to truly figure out your real identity.

Understanding your identity separates you from the fray.

Comics who know who they are have an easier time selling themselves, plain and simple. That’s simply branding: communicating characteristics of yourself to your audience. In the case of comics, you use your identity to brand yourself to gain followers (people who want to see you). Doing so helps you attain more goals in comedy such as getting passed at clubs, attaining representation, getting a late night spot, etc.

Whatever your identity is, you need to be confident in it to sell yourself. No one will look twice at someone who doesn’t have doesn’t have a good sense of their comedy identity because it’ll usually present itself in a weak or confused brand.

Your identity is found in your purpose.

Okay, this may sound a little like a Thought Catalog piece, but sincerely, your identity is found in your purpose...purpose in comedy I mean.

Your purpose is what you feel you should be doing in comedy. Do you feel you’re supposed to be pushing the envelope with dirty or dark humor or are you supposed to be telling more thought provoking jokes? Maybe you’re supposed to be storytelling or maybe you are supposed to be a punchline comic? Or a mixture? Whatever that is, figure it out and you will see the rewards.

When you know yourself you know what you are doing. Your identity is the first step to being a real comic.

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

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