Never Play It Safe
Comedy is currently at an all time high for both comedians and consumers alike.
Just like there is so much content to consume (NetFlix, Amazon Prime, social media, etc.), there is just as much that can be found in person to satisfy your comedy needs. Hell, you can go to any bar and then have a surprise comedy show happen right in front of you. For some, it’s almost like you can’t get away from it.
Yes, we are in a comedy boom. That isn’t debatable, but in a time when there is so much going on, it can make it even more difficult for any comics to stand out from the rest of the many comics trying to make it in this industry.
This is a time you need to be willing to take things a step further and really risk it in comedy because playing it safe will only do you a disservice.
Here are my thoughts.
For jokes, risking it can mean many things.
When we think of taking a risk, the first thing that comes to mind is the content of our jokes.
Sure, no one wants to hear a boring joke, but it isn’t always about having the joke be super edgy (use of profanities, controversial topics, etc.) to get the point across; it might be more about how you perform the joke. For example, the same joke said one way can change completely by performing differently.
For example, I used to be low energy and stoic in my first two years of comedy. I felt comfortable performing in this way because I was afraid to really push it and become more animated. A friend brought it to my attention that it came off as stiff and the jokes weren’t getting as much traction as they could when I did this.
After hearing this I pushed myself to become more animated to match what I am normally in person and it benefited me in the long run. My jokes get more traction when I really push and commit to the feeling in the joke. It was a valuable lesson to do that because holding back (playing it safe) was only hindering me as a comic.
Challenging yourself is a risk, but done right can pay off in the long run.
For the sake of business, risks are necessary.
We are in a business. Whether comics acknowledge this or not, comics need to act like business people to be able to successfully sell themselves.
Business is about taking risks, not doing what is easy and expecting it to get you somewhere.
Taking risks, whether it’s your own personal comedy or a project, gets you noticed and enhances your visibility. Believe me, gaining attention for doing something new and different is always a positive, even with the bumps along the way.
For example, let’s say you’re doing a podcast. That’s a risk in itself because it’s time-consuming and isn’t going to be immediately successful. If your concept is sellable, developing it and perfecting it is something that will eventually pay off.
Even with something like Comedians on the Loose, it was a risk to start off how we did because one of the biggest things we pushed was a “no bringer” policy for our shows.
We initially started as a show that was purely scene-level and were urged to implement the bringer model by many of our peers and mentors. However, we stuck to our guns and were able to build a show that featured primarily open mic talent and now attract pros from across the country. We did this by starting off with a risky concept and then tailoring it as we grew and those risks worked.
When it comes to risks, it’s about doing it wisely. If you’re going to start taking risks, make sure you have a result you want to reach. No risk will pan out without an end game. Once you know what you want out of taking a risk, commit to it and see if it works out; always remember, no one gets anywhere by being the safe option.
Got questions or something to add? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!