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Dealing With Rejection: The Do’s & Don'ts

Over the past ten years comedy has exploded. Not only has comedy exploded as something provided to consumers, but also the volume of comedians in the industry.

Everyone and their mother is now attempting stand up; because there is so much comedy, everyone thinks they deserve a piece of it. However, there is a flipside to this boom: increased probability of rejection.

Rejection is a natural part of any business and there is no one comic who got every opportunity they wanted. Rejection shapes us; sometimes it’s good and other times it really shows how badly people respond.

Here are the do’s and don'ts of dealing with rejection.


Take it as an opportunity for growth.

Rejection doesn’t always mean it’s the end or that door is closed. Think about the comics that get late night spots. I recently watched Comedian on Netflix and the part that really made an impact on me was how much Orny Adams agonized how the network wanted him to change certain things in his set to be “network friendly.” For the most part, a late night spot is the amalgamation of the comic’s material and what the network says they can do on television. If you see it as anything else, you are misinformed. No comic would ever be allowed back if they went rogue on television and just did a set how they wanted. If someone offers feedback for what it takes to nab an opportunity, then take it as a gift because it’s very rare anyone will respond with feedback. Even if they don’t respond, it’s a chance for you to hit it harder for what you are trying to achieve.

Leave the door open.

Maybe an opportunity wasn’t right at that moment? Productions, networks, etc. will likely have more than just that one opportunity. There is such a thing as the future. If someone says “no” just politely thank them for their time and go along your way. A positive lasting impression will do more for you than you think. Even I have cast comics that I had rejected previously. Their set simply wasn’t ready at the time, but because I saw the development and our last interaction wasn’t annoying it made me take a second look.


Take it to heart.

Comedy is a business, not a charity. You are not entitled to any opportunity you desire or even the ones you receive. If someone rejects you for an opportunity it’s often a case where branding is taken into consideration and you just weren’t a right fit.

The thing comedians need to understand is you ARE building a brand and you’re going to only appeal to CERTAIN markets. Not everyone is going to be on board and that is okay. Of course it’s great to have your comedy accepted, but rejection can be the best form of protection. Maybe you weren’t ready for the opportunity? Or that opportunity would’ve caused more heartache than good?

Whatever the reason, just move forward to allow yourself time to find the other opportunities that fall in line with your ultimate goals.

Burn bridges.

I recently saw a Twitter post from Jessica Kirson:

This couldn’t be a truer statement and while it’s specified for comic-to-comic relationships, you’d be amazed how it relates to comedians and productions. I’ve witnessed situations where a comic doesn’t get an opportunity and they’ll engage in a way that is uncalled for: blasting the person’s email with nonstop messages or worse, trashing them in a public forum.

Once you go that route, there’s no going back and a momentary ego trip will ultimately create a long term bad reputation. Don’t let one missed opportunity be a reason to foster a bad reputation because I guarantee obsession and/or retaliation will get around to everyone.

When you understand comedy as a business you’ll further begin to understand why rejection is necessary for the industry. When opportunities go to the wrong people it can be disastrous for everyone involved and rejection is the buffer that allows for great work to continue.

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

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