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Is there such a thing as LIFE-COMEDY balance?


I’m sure we can all remember that first time we went on stage and realized we want to pursue stand-up comedy. There’s something so wonderful about figuring out what truly makes you excited and being a performer brings a different kind of thrill into your life. The problem with pursuing your dreams is that you can often feel that everything and everyone that is not contributing to that creative bubble you formed for yourself is kind of in a way of you living your best life. 


There’s an immense pressure to juggle a comedy career with your daily life and you can’t help but wonder - is there such a thing as life-comedy balance? Can you build yourself into a successful comedian while you are still juggling your daily responsibilities - your work, your family, and last, but not least, your health?


TOXIC PRODUCTIVITY

A lot of comedians will tell you that in order to make it in this business you constantly have to chase opportunities and stage time and if you are not on such an aggressive path you’ll never really make it. Such a mindset cultivated this toxic productivity behavior where we are encouraged to always be doing something that will contribute to our comedy. Now that might be relevant to professional comedians but if you are still an amateur the modifications have to be made, simply because we have our day jobs and families, trying to maintain relationships and still have time for some much-needed self care. We do need a certain amount of time to replenish our creative and social batteries, and we can’t just always be “on the go”. No wonder so many comedians try to soothe themselves with drugs and alcohol, they are constantly anxious during their pursuits and then depressed when their efforts fall flat. It’s a vicious cycle that is often glorified and a sure way to a total burnout. 


What some of these pro comedians don’t tell you is that when they were coming up there were different rules of engagement, and that a lot of comedians lived way below their means, or were totally broke, and others had partners and families who were working full time and supporting them. 

The reality is, times have changed, it’s no longer enough to just hit the stage. You also need to be creative online where you will build your audience who will then want to come to your show. How are you gonna be good online? If you create fun content. How are you gonna create fun content? Through constant writing, editing, engaging, etc. Being a comedian is very much a full-time job that you often have to do on top of you already having a full-time job. This can oftentimes feel overwhelming which is why it’s so important to create a healthy life-comedy balance that can keep you in the game for a long time. 


EXPECTATIONS AND PRIORITIES

I know how it is. You’ve seen that one comic you started comedy with now doing a late night spot or going on the road as a headliner or opening for a successful comedian. It’s really easy to feel like a loser, like that could’ve been you if you only worked harder. Now that’s maybe true, but it can also be that life comes at us differently and we have to accept working with what we have at the moment. 

Comparing yourself to others will really do nothing good for you. You should be inspired by someone’s success, not left feeling exhausted and depressed. 

Your day job can be a source of stress to you daily that is preventing you from having any energy or creative juices left to be an entertainer. Some people think they need to quit their day jobs to pursue comedy more seriously but I think that’s a mistake. If your comedy doesn’t cover all your expenses and provides for anything your current day job does, it doesn’t make sense to make that transition. You will always be under pressure to provide for yourself and that will ultimately lead to exhaustion and you might even start resenting comedy, especially if you are not succeeding at it at the rate you envisioned for yourself. 


This is why a lot of comedians, including myself, work remotely. It gives us a certain flexibility to do our job and still manage our day in a way that there’s always room for comedy. Having a remote job can help you have a more flexible schedule that can accommodate your comedy career as it allows you to travel and experience various stages and audiences. 

I’m aware that not every job could be done off-site, but if you are looking to transition from working in the office to working remotely there are several websites that offer such opportunities: FlexJobs, Remote.co, Virtual Vocations, We Work Remotely, Just Remote, Working Nomads, Remote OK, Career Vault, Authentic Jobs, etc. 


FINDING A BALANCE

Your solution in managing this balance of providing for yourself and doing comedy can simply lay in time management. Time blocking is a good system that can help you organize your day in a way where you will not feel like you are neglecting your comedy while being slammed with your daily routine and last-minute inconveniences. It can be really good for your mental health since even the smallest effort you make daily can lead to big impacts in the future. Work with what you have at this time in your life. Your circumstances might change in the future and you will adjust accordingly but for now, just focus on what you can accomplish. 


You can block any amount of time to write. Sometimes I only have 15 minutes and sometimes I have a whole day, and sometimes I’m more productive in those 15 minutes than I am in that whole day. 


Schedule comedy-related activities based on your list of priorities for each day/week.  If you know you're gonna have a really busy day but comedy ideas keep creeping in, just make a note of those ideas on a piece of paper or in your note app and let it sit there for a minute. Whenever you catch a quick break, look at the idea and just write a sentence or two developing that idea. The interesting thing about our brain is that once you open that door of creativity the ideas will just naturally flow, no force needed. Sometimes, when I feel like I have nothing, I just write down what I have: maybe it’s just a tag, maybe I have a punchline or a phrase in mind but no real premise to connect it with but I know it will come to me. A lot of comedy comes from just thinking about things, and not forcing yourself to sit down with a piece of paper and expect the ideas to pour out of you. 


Another good way is to plan your nights. Have a separate night for new material, editing videos, editing existing jokes, updating your social media, squeezing in as many open mics as possible, etc. 

I find it much easier to focus on one thing instead of trying to do a few of these tasks each time but you know yourself the best, so do whatever makes sense to you. There’s no wrong method, and the best one is the one you can maintain for a long time cause just like with everything else, consistency is the key.  Even if you think it's a slow progress, it’s still progress because you are intentional about each step. Just think about this: let’s say you write 1 minute of new material per week, and you test that multiple times at different open mics; that will generate 52 new minutes per year which is essentially a comedy special. This is a rough estimate based on the fact that the joke will work but what’s more important is to create a healthy habit that is totally manageable, and suddenly that 1 minute can turn to 2, 5 or more, because you are now in the zone of positive productivity. 


Chasing after your dreams comes with a lot of sacrifice and negotiating with yourself: your principles, your standards, your patience, and let’s not forget your daily life. Just because you have a dream doesn’t mean that reality doesn’t have you. You have to take care of yourself, your family, and that includes having a stable financial situation that will help you manage it all. 

For many of us comedy is not just our hobby, it’s essentially who we are as individuals which is why the thought of squeezing in time for it can seem daunting, if not impossible. In order to strike the proper equilibrium, you might have to set boundaries, delegate tasks and practice self-care. 


To lead an enriching life there has to be a certain balance between your work and your passion. When you allow yourself to have a life outside of comedy is when you will be able to write about real-life experiences that will resonate with your audience, meaning, how are you gonna write about life when you are not experiencing it? This is what writers on sit-coms are often pushed to do, so go live a life so you can tell us all about it. 


Let us know in the comments how you find that life-comedy balance. 









2 comments

2 Comments


Guest
Apr 30

Thanks for the job links!

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Sonja Savanovic
Sonja Savanovic
May 01
Replying to

You are very welcome, good luck!

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