As a comedian, there are going to be several times when you want to give up. For the most part, we are often in situations where a normal person would just get up and leave. Think about it, we subject ourselves to long nights at open mics, shows, etc. Sometimes we’re even waiting for hours just to get up and perform.
I was recently hosting back-to-back Comedians on the Loose open mics solo (yes, I host sometimes), and both were difficult, to say the least. While we were at full capacity, it was a chilly Thursday night and you could tell most comics just wanted to do their time and leave; however, the bucket lottery can be a real bitch for those desiring an early exit.
The last mic was the most brutal and the energy in the room was just so low with comics getting up on stage and going through the motions. The sentiment clearly was “no one is listening, so I’m just going to do my time and get out.”
A great majority of the comics played into this energy with many just giving up because they weren’t getting the response they wanted. It wasn’t until the end of the mic that there was a handful out of the twenty-something comics that really powered through to earn their laughs. Additionally, it made me remember these people for positive reasons.
Here’s what I have noticed.
The moments where you think no one is listening are the most important.
You’re going to have moments when you feel like no one is paying attention or isn’t on board with what you have to say. Comedy is unpredictable and it’s often necessary to have those less than favorable experiences. If everything was always perfect you’d never learn anything. What most comics don’t understand is these uncomfortable (often painful) bombing moments are the moments where people really are listening for one reason or another.
Case in point, the Thursday open mic experience. What most people do not realize is that someone like me that produces shows regularly is always listening, but I really pay attention during the uncomfortable times to notice when a comic can really rise to an occasion. Sure, it’s great when the room is on board and everything is easy, but the tough rooms are where I can see how a comic responds to bad energy and assess their readiness.
Be certain that my method is not uncommon. Anyone who has a show, project, etc. wants to know who they choose to work with can handle what they’re giving them. Off-stage matters just as much as on-stage.
What people see you do off-stage is a heavy influencer of how they view you on-stage. This is where your personal business really matters and it is heavily linked to your level of professionalism.
It can be as easy as networking and being seen. If people see you and know you there is a higher chance that they will think of you for the future.
On the flip side, off-stage attention can work against you and it usually is connected to unprofessionalism. Believe me, there have been people I have passed over to work with because my off-stage experiences with them were not favorable or they exhibit behavior that doesn’t make me want to associate with them. Sure, they might have talent, but talent will usually be overlooked if you are deemed as a risk.
No production or seriously committed comic will want to be connected to someone with questionable off-stage antics. That’s a fact.
Moral of this article, remember that someone is always watching you in this business whether it’s the audience you think isn’t paying attention, the show producer, or your followers. How you conduct yourself really is a deciding factor for the opportunities you gain or lose.
Got questions or something to add? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!