We all know comedy is business. Well, we should all know comedy is a business. Some have a tougher time than others grasping that concept. In every industry, whether it’s entertainment, home goods, health, and wellness, etc. you have to do things that are impactful to make yourself stand out from the many who are trying to achieve the same goal.
Comedy is no different and today, EVERYONE thinks they can be a comedian.
Such a high volume of competition (because everyone is your competition) makes it more difficult to get spots, be seen, and ultimately reach your goal.
So how do we make a splash while navigating our path? It starts where you begin: you have to be disruptive.
What exactly is being disruptive?
The idea of being “disruptive” isn’t new, but I learned of it from the business mogul, Bethenny Frankel. As we know, Bethenny Frankel is not a stand-up comedian, but she is an expert businessperson and in business, concepts for growth are generally universal...you just have to tweak your approach and relate it to your industry and personal goals.
Frankel discussed her SkinnyGirl brand and how being disruptive to the market is one of the key components of her success. She filled a gap in the market that wasn’t being satisfied. For comedians, filling a gap or doing something that hasn’t been seen yet is now something that is becoming more essential to achieving and maintaining relevance.
It takes longer to cultivate, but the impression is lasting.
How do you cause disruption in comedy?
Being disruptive goes all into your craft and what you’re selling on that stage. It doesn’t mean your loud or obnoxious, or a self-described “edgelord” looking for attention. It’s beyond that.
You kind of have to think of yourself in the sense of being a product and ask yourself things like:
• Is what I represent actually different?
• Is my skill up to par?
• Am I confident in what I’m trying to sell?
• Would people actually buy my comedy?
Such questions can take years to figure out and sometimes I notice comics today can typically only answer one or two of these questions.
The truth is so many comics have the chance to actually be disruptive: their background is unique, their performance style makes people pay attention, etc.; However, they’re either too afraid to be different (because being different will always come with an upside and a downside), they just don’t know how to really push the envelope, or they haven’t matured enough in comedy.
Learning to be disruptive takes time especially in comedy where the first goal is just to be comfortable on stage. It’s not an overnight occurrence.
You’ll lose relevance if you just satisfy a standard.
Now, I’m not gonna say that playing into certain styles and “meeting standards” in comedy isn’t gonna get you anywhere. Yes, you will gain opportunities if you meet a standard. However, if you continually try to meet a standard you end up looking like a carbon copy of comedians past and present and you won’t stand out. For example, I know comedians who use Mark Normand as a reference point for inspiration. That’s great to have somewhere to draw from, but so many comics today have taken it to a level where they are performing EXACTLY like Mark Normand. Even with topics and talking points. Some comics believe because they make mental health their main act that it’s different. Sorry, Gary Gulman, is already doing that. I even have issues with a lot of gay comedy that is overtly sexual that SOOO many new comics are pushing. Matteo Lane already cornered that market long ago.
It takes knowing thyself and paying attention to your comedy path to really be able to push it and make an impact. You’re not gonna know that from day one so relax and give yourself time. Comedy is where art and business meet so you have to be flexible.
Got questions or something to add? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!