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Crucial Lessons You’ll Learn In Comedy

The further you get into comedy, the more you will learn the ins and outs of this industry.

This industry is full of twists and turns that can be either career-shaping or soul-crushing. It really depends on how you respond and handle each circumstance.

While many spend years in the scene they often fail to do one thing: treat themselves as a business. Yes, we are comedians, but just because you are a creative doesn’t mean that’s all you have to worry about. No one will care about you “art” if you don’t do things to get noticed and show how you can benefit others.

If you eventually want to make money as a comic, it’s about becoming business savvy to take it to the next level.

Here are some important lessons I have learned.

Make the most of every opportunity.

Opportunities are abundant on the scene and in the industry; however, every opportunity has a scale of worth and it’s potential. For example, that bar show or bringer show has the potential to turn itself into more spots; that festival acceptance is something you can use to warrant bookers to take another look at you.

This is because you are showing you can be booked, a necessity for your brand.

Everything has the possibility to connect to another opportunity thus enhancing your visibility. Visibility is the greatest asset to a comic’s business because, without it, no one will know you exist.

Each opportunity, big or small, is a chance for you to gain traction somewhere and it’s all about connecting one piece to the next.

Mistakes Are Gifts.

I was recently watching an interview with Bethenny Frankel. Yes, I understand and am fully aware she is not a comedian, but she IS a brilliant businesswoman and many lessons can be learned from her experiences.

Just like many comics, she started off in an industry that she didn’t know much about and had to learn as she went on to build her brand. One of Frankel’s greatest lessons learned is that “mistakes are gifts.”

Let’s face it. No one is perfect and you’re going to mess up (comics especially). Making these mistakes early on is crucial to learn so you can become a more business savvy comic in the future when it really matters. Hey, you may even get some material out it. Maybe you aren’t networking enough? Do you have a personality flaw? Your relationship with a venue is more difficult than it needs to be? You aren’t taking enough risks? These mistakes are meant to shape us so we can become better in business. You don’t have to lose yourself in becoming that business savvy comic; it’s more about altering the way you interact so you don’t cost yourself real opportunities down the line.

“Big breaks” are rare occurrences.

Comedy as a profession can be very humbling. I attended a comedy conference hosted by Laughing Affairs back in 2017 where Jessica Kirson was on the panel. She said one thing that has always stuck with me: “You know, this industry has a way a keeping you humble. I remember a time where I was on The View and then the next day I was performing in a fish restaurant.”

Jessica is probably one of the most down-to-earth comics I’ve ever met and it shows with her wisdom and knowledge as a comedy veteran. This business will throw successes and mediocrity at you and sometimes at the exact same time.

Sadly, I see so many comics operating with the goal of finding that “big break.” It’s definitely feeding our ego to find that opportunity that’ll make us a success, but comedy often presents opportunities that can seem like big breaks, when they’re really just stepping stones to the next level. Save yourself the heartache of expecting a big break. Big breaks are usually a rare occurrence.

There you have it. Some important lessons to think about in comedy. Just know that it’s up to you to learn as you go and no one can teach you, but yourself.

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

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