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This Is What’s Holding You Back In Comedy

2019 is fast approaching and it’s that time where we take inventory of what we are doing for our stand-up and how we can essentially move forward in the industry.

The great thing about being a producer is you have so many comics you see and work with while learning what’s working in moving them forward and what is holding them back. It makes you self-analyze to fix what you’re doing wrong.

Here are just a few “cardinal sins” that many comics commit.

Networking poorly.

It can be difficult to understand networking. It’s overwhelming especially when you’re considered a newbie. My biggest flaw with networking (especially in year one) was I didn’t know what I was doing. Do I wait to amp up my networking until I’m happy with my own stand-up or do I hit it hard regardless of where I am? Obviously, you should always strive to make connections, even as a new comic because you want people to know you exist beyond open mics.

But even for comics who aren’t new, there are habits some fall into that can be detrimental. They start to stick to what’s familiar and call that networking or don’t make the effort to network. For example, think about the comic that is booked on a show, does the spot, and then leaves. They don’t interact with the comics (or only talk to ones that they know) and their only communication with the host or producer is during the show. They’re missing out on a potential opportunity to connect. Initially, this came off as arrogance, but I have gotten to know comics over the years and learn why they are like this. Sometimes it’s anxiety and other times they just have to go to do another spot; however, some people take first impressions as the last impression, and will write you off. It’s unfortunate, but it’s inevitable.

Here’s something to know about networking: it’s not about getting others to like you, it’s about getting noticed. People remember who makes an effort, and it’ll work better to network with new people a little than just keeping your networking circles familiar.

Being afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Like networking, a lot of comics stick to what’s comfortable with their own comedy.

Maybe you are only comfortable “presenting” your material versus making it something the audience feels engaged? Or you don’t necessarily want to talk about yourself?

Think about it. There are many comics you see who discuss topics that are mundane or topical at best. I mean when you’ve heard comics talk about Taco Bell drive-thrus or boring Trump jokes, it’s kind of hard to feel connected to them or feel like you’d want to get to know them.

This plays into not taking risks which is a huge mistake because you only limit yourself. For me at least, I’ve noticed the only comics I connect to and essentially want to book are the ones who give real insight to themselves. If it’s topics like breakups, sexual frustration, or even OCD, it gives me a deeper insight into how this person thinks. I’ve even made friends with a few. It may not be the most comfortable to talk about, but things you’ve felt pain from and experienced are real and audiences want to connect to what they feel is real versus just some opinion.

Not viewing comedy as a business.

Comedy is a money making industry, but you’d be surprised at how many comics don’t see it that way. I mean when you’re calling yourself the “Comedy God” or you get pissy that you weren’t booked on a specific show, it’s pretty clear this is ego messing with reality.

Every comedy entity is going to operate with the intent to make money so you have to show you can make money, not only now but for the future. You also have to show that you will make that process as smooth as possible whether it’s how professional you are or your ability to adapt to the needs of the production. If you give someone a difficult experience or display online or offline behavior that’s considered “a bad look” it will always come back to you in the form of not being booked. A bad reputation travels fast and it ultimately limits your visibility. Be smart and know you’re always being watched regardless of the medium. You want to be a comic so that comes with the territory.

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

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