There’s an age-old saying that holds timeless validity, especially in the entertainment industry:
“Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
It’s not literally biting a hand (that would be insanity); it’s more so the idea that you don’t shit on those who have helped you get to a certain point. As a producer for Comedians on the Loose, this is something I see happen very often, both from personal experience and second-hand accounts. Maybe it’s being inexperienced, immature, or having a massive ego (likely a combination of the three), but it’s very common for comics to not be afraid of burning bridges. They may feel justified in the process, but ultimately end up regretting it.
Here’s what I have learned.
Negative experiences are something people always remember.
I remember talking to a comic months ago; we both have been on shows together and this particular comic had been in the industry for almost twenty years. You think he’d be further along, right?
According to this comic, he was steadily building a presence in the club circuit ten years ago and was on a trajectory to becoming a legit club comedian, but it slowed down. I was able to work with this comic on various occasions and after several shenanigans, he proved to be unreliable and retaliated when called out. This experience left a bad taste in my mouth and now it doesn’t surprise me why his presence didn’t take off when he was in his prime. The more interesting thing is it makes me think less of him when I did like him at one point. Now when I think about projects or people to recommend, I’m not thinking of him.
When people stop thinking about you, your presence diminishes, thus drying up the opportunity stream.
Graciousness goes a long way.
Sometimes in this business, things just don’t work out. Maybe someone passed you over for an opportunity or they couldn’t get you what you wanted. It happens to everyone at one point or another and likely will be something you have to just get used to experiencing.
What you don’t want to do is respond in a negative way because it just shows the size of your ego. It might feel justified to “stick it to them,” but at the end of the day, it means you close the door on potential opportunities. Just say thank you and move forward and if it’s meant to be that opportunity will find you.
Don’t confuse your comedic persona with a business persona.
As comics, we are essentially business people. You have to start thinking in that way if you want to be taken seriously in this industry. Your comedic persona should never be mistaken for your business persona.
Comics are a profession where it is expected of us to be funny or edgy, but too often I see comics take it to an extreme where they don’t understand that you have to know when to turn it on and when to turn it off.
This is where bridges can get burned or you lose out on potential opportunities. Just because your comedic persona is edgy and controversial doesn’t mean your business transactions have to be as well. That might be funny the first few times, but people will eventually tire of it and or even find it off-putting; they’ll ultimately end up seeing you as unprofessional. Often times comics are simply unaware they are doing this, yet that bridge still remains burned if a negative impression is left.
Ultimately, it’s up to the comic to see what potential opportunities they can snag. Don’t burn bridges and cut short your chances of visibility. You’ll only end up regretting it in the future.
Got questions or something to add? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!