When we are on that stage it is our time to give our opinions, stories, and anecdotes and sell them in a way that is designed to make the audience laugh; this is the image we build that allows our audience and followers insight into how our minds work.
While it’s important to allow this insight, one thing I have noticed among many comics off stage is an element of disengagement. They refuse to interact or act cold or distant and it’s a far cry from what their on-stage persona exemplifies.
For me, it can be a bit off-putting. Someone that lacks engagement is always frustrating, but it makes it even more of a let down when you see a whole other personality that you can’t connect to.
Here are my thoughts.
We can’t afford to be disengaged.
In any industry, engagement is an important part of putting your name out there and making a valuable connection. It’s the basis of networking and being engaged ensures you do what you need to do to make a lasting impression. I was recently on a couple of shows where I encountered comics who were a bit cold. While the other comics on the lineup were conversing with each other and making an effort to interact, these comics just didn’t put forth an effort. One of the comics even completely ignored another comic trying to include her in the conversation. Being so disengaged already puts forth an element of negativity and leaving a negative impression is all it will do for you.
That negative impression can even lead to a lost opportunity; one of these comics I was considering casting for a future COTL show. After that experience, it made me think of other options. Sure, it’s a bit harsh, but I can guarantee most people operate in that mindset and they’ll likely give the opportunities to those they feel a connection. Any great talent can be overshadowed by a negative impression.
Anxiety gets blamed too frequently.
Of all the performers, comedians are probably the ones with the weirdest mindsets. A lot of us are shy or are prone to anxiety. Even I deal with a certain level of anxiety around new people.
However, putting forth anxiety or shyness is a cop-out. I have learned that the hard way, especially in the first two years.
Comedy isn’t some Hallmark movie where a comic is shy or anxious and we see the story of how he/she overcame it. It’s a cold industry that really takes everything at face value and no producer, casting director, an agent with a potential opportunity is going to wonder why you didn’t engage; they’re only going to care that you didn’t engage and you never want a miscommunication to be the reason for a lost opportunity.
Being more engaged is a process that takes time to master (it took me a couple of years in production to learn how to engage more efficiently). No one is expecting you to suddenly have an overnight change, but it’ll do more for you to practice being engaged versus just sitting back and ignoring potential opportunities.
Got questions or something to add? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!