In this business, you will run into a plethora of personality types. Some of these personalities will be mentors, potential collaborators, or just acquaintances. Others may be potential friends whereas most might just be “friendly.”
Notice the use of air quotes? It’s something to keep in mind as I continually notice on the scene this desire many comics have to be friends with everyone.
I recently conversed with a few comics where conversations turned to making friends in the industry; it certainly is important to have those friends and confidants you can trust to either have your back or even help you get to the next step...and vice versa. However, so many of these comics felt the need to be friends with EVERYONE they meet in the industry. If they didn’t do this, they were doing something wrong.
Here’s why this is a flawed mentality.
Being everyone’s friend can register as fake.
I’m sure we’ve all met that comic at some point. The one who is so chummy with everyone, tries to be overly nice, and never wants to ruffle any feathers.
Usually, it’s equated to networking (albeit very aggressive) and then they get frustrated that these tactics rub people the wrong way.
I noticed this when I first started comedy. It didn’t really change anything at the time to see this happening; however, when I took on the role of producer it became increasingly evident that the need for some comics to be friends with everyone was fueled by ulterior motives.
Prior to becoming a producer, I never understood the coldness that was often received from producers, bookers, agents, and even some pro comics.
Now that I have more insight, I understand why this occurs. For example, I could meet a comic that says “oh, let’s hang out soon.” Then a couple of days later, that same comic will send me a mediocre tape of their set requesting to be booked on a show. Pretty disingenuous, right?
Other times I will see comics who had a bad reputation to begin with try to do intense damage control, when the damage is already done and they have pretty much been written off.
If people recognize anything fake, it’ll be an immediate turn-off.
Strive for respect over friends.
One of my good friends in comedy told me recently that she “doesn’t care if people think she’s a bitch.”
Some may call this harsh, but that’s the kind of the mentality you have to have to succeed: not caring if someone is your friend or not. Comedy ultimately isn’t about your personal life and lifelong friendships. It’s about your career and to make moves that impact your career you have to be willing to live with a certain level of polarity.
However, there is an element that is necessary which is respect. Respect doesn’t mean people like you or are your friends. They may even dislike you as a person (not everyone is meant to be friends) but they can at least appreciate what you do whether it’s your stand-up or a project you take part in regularly.
You do this by putting in the work of perfecting your craft and being professional.
No one receives respect immediately, regardless of how special you think you are. It takes time to cultivate and you’ll get more out of people respecting what you do versus having a ton of friends. Personality can only get you so far and you really have to have the goods to sell yourself.
If you make quality friends in comedy, then congrats, but know that shouldn’t be your ultimate goal. It’s a slippery slope to have everyone like you and in regards to casting, the best most comics might get is a bar show out of this strategy. Real opportunities aren’t given just because of friendship.
Got questions or something to add? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!