Something that has crossed my mind from time to time is the concept of popularity and what it means for building a comedy brand.
It’s essential for us to build our following to gain traction in the industry, but what I have noticed is various comedians, new and seasoned, yearn for the feeling of being popular whether it’s with their stand-up, projects, or on the scene in general.
Let’s face it, most comics were not the popular kids in school; in fact, most of us were probably loners or outcast in some way so it’s almost foreign to many of us to be popular.
If I have learned one thing in comedy, it’s that you don’t necessarily have to be liked to be a good comic and make people laugh. It’s more about getting people’s attention to have them listen to what you have to say. It’s about polarity.
Polarity is a concept in branding that means people either love or hate what you’re selling. For comedians it’s our stand-up and polarity is essential for success.
One of the best examples of polarity in comedy is Bill Burr. Not everyone likes him, but you can be confident that people are going to listen to what he has to say.
There’s a saying that if you have people that love you and you have people that hate you, then you have a brand. It may not feel good initially to know that people hate you, but if you are secure in yourself, you will eventually understand that it still means people are talking about you. When people care enough to have an opinion of you, it sparks interest for others to take a look at you to form their own opinion.
For every person that hates you, there’s going to someone that loves you, thus carving out your audience.
Being “liked” by everyone can hurt your branding.
Being liked is part of building your brand and is necessary to gain a following, but it’s only good to an extent.
Think about it. If you end up being liked by everyone where no one will disagree with you, it can turn on you and register as boring. Maybe decades ago that would’ve worked where audiences expected more wholesome versions of stand-up comedy, but times have changed and comedians today have to be edgier and push the envelope just to be noticed. Being the “safe” option is something you never want because audiences will just move on to the next thing once they realize you’re “vanilla.”
Don’t be afraid to ruffle feathers.
The great thing about comedy is it’s subjective.
What isn’t funny to one person may be funny to another. You may find yourself thinking “oh, I shouldn’t say this because…”
Never deny yourself the chance to make comedy gold. As long as you are honest in your stand-up and not pretending to be a stand-up, then any joke has a shot at being successful. It’s about having the confidence to execute it well.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference and trying to be liked by everyone is going to be a never ending battle. It’s when people are not talking about about you that you should be worried. Think about that.
Got questions or something to add? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!