As a comic, your ultimate dream is likely to be on the same level as the pros of the industry.
Whether it’s having a slew of stand-up specials, starting your own production, or getting noticed by one of the top networks, we all want to be something bigger than just our immediate comedy community.
Sure, you can get up on stage and keep cracking at it. You may even hear other people say “get better” or “be funnier.” Makes it sound easy, doesn’t it?
However, if you don’t approach stand-up with some solid tips and things to remember, you’ll end up being the wandering comic with no direction.
If you want to play with the top dogs, then why not use the best tips from industry professionals?
Here’s some solid tips from pro comics that we found helpful!
Ignore your competition
Joan Rivers received some very particular advice from a Mafia guy in Vegas: “run your own race, put on your blinders.’ Don’t worry about how others are doing. Something better will come."
Hopefully none of us end up rubbing elbows with the mafia, but ignoring your competition is probably one of the best things we can be told. Comics often have this misconception that others are their competition and that others stand in the way of their success. WRONG.
At the end of the day, it’s all up to you to make the right moves, get funnier, get noticed, etc. because YOU ARE YOUR COMPETITION. Cut the crap, and work at it for yourself, not to prove you can beat others. You’ll just end up being disappointed in the end.
See everything as an opportunity
The word “opportunistic” often has a stigma attached to it, but is it really a bad thing, especially when it comes to your own success? Stephen Colbert says it perfectly: “...there are no mistakes. There are only opportunities.”
Obviously, you don’t want to burn bridges by stepping on others to forge that path to success, but you definitely want to take everything that comes your way.
Opportunities come in different ways for every level you reach as a comic. For new comics it could be the opportunity for stage time. For a more seasoned comic, it might be the opportunity to be part of a YouTube sketch or if you’re really good, getting featured on a late night show (one can only dream).
Never turn down an opportunity to be seen because chances are if you say “no” once, it may not present itself again. Even if an opportunity doesn’t work out, it’s always an opportunity to learn and grow.
Surround yourself with like-minded people
This one is kind of a no-brainer, but Steve Harvey asserts being around like-minded individuals is key to really becoming a successful comic. Even I have found that the more I am around people who are driven to succeed in this industry, the more I feel determined to grow and be successful.
Why would you not interact with other comics, producer, writers, etc? The deeper you get into being a comic, the more likely these relationships will benefit your career.
Have the confidence to try new things
Kevin Hart is one of today’s heavy hitters in the industry with a goal to not just be a stand-up comic or an actor, but a mogul. Having the “up for anything” attitude is what really got him started in stand-up comedy.
Hart confesses in his memoir, I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons: "That's when I said the word that changed my life: 'OK,' It was as nonchalant as every other 'OK' I'd uttered. I basically shoulder-shrugged my way into comedy."
Trying new things outside of your normal routine of comedy can bode well. For example, before I started Comedians on the Loose with Sonja Savanovic, we were just doing the open mic routine. Sonja suggested we get into producing shows to do something bigger and I basically said “okay.” It wasn’t some grandiose idea I had in my head and like Hart, I basically shoulder shrugged and jumped on board.
I had never done production before and I was a neurotic mess in the process of producing the first official Comedians on the Loose show in October 2016, but it was the best decision we could have made because it helped us to better understand the business of comedy as opposed to just being on the talent side.
Trying new things gets you noticed and forces you to grow because we learn more from discomfort. Getting comfortable is dangerous for career progression in any industry.
Remember that fame is not a goal
Many comics start comedy because they want to be famous, but you should never enter any career path because of a chance at fame or monetary gain. According to Margaret Cho, success is measured by “how much you enjoy something.”
When you love what you do, the rewards will follow. Yes, the chance at fame and money is enticing and it takes a lot to get noticed, but if you don’t love being a comic it will show and eventually hold you back from your true potential whether that is on stage, as a producer, or in front of the camera.
Fame is temporary, but an honest love for being a comic has longevity.
Got any other pro tips you didn’t see on this list? Comment below and let us know your thoughts!