I was on Facebook a few weeks ago and came across a post from a fellow comedian that sparked my interest.
This post discussed comics who “stop and start” in comedy:
“The key to success in comedy is not having a mental breakdown and quitting and restarting several times...you all need to take a few deep breaths and chill.”
While there is an element of snark, this post did make a lot of sense. I see numerous comics who (for one reason or another) quit doing comedy only to “make their comeback” expecting for things to be the same. It’s only continuous disservice comedians do to themselves.
Here are my thoughts.
Stopping your momentum stops interest.
Now, everyone's’ reasoning for stopping comedy is different from one comic to the next. For some, it’s health problems, family matters that need attention, etc.
Things like that are real and I don’t fault a comic that has to take care of personal matters first before continuing what they started.
However, that’s only a small percentage and most of the time I see comics that fall off the map for reasons of sheer laziness: you’re too busy, you’re too tired, etc.
Those “reasons” for the most part are completely in your control because it’s your choice to use such excuses.
You’re ultimately stopping your own momentum when that happens and stopping your momentum (for many it’s repeatedly) stops interest.
Our Gotham show is a prime example of this happening as we’ve worked with approximately 150 comics. A few have just stopped doing comedy for extended periods of time. They keep saying “oh, I’ll come back eventually,” thinking this industry or even us as producers will remain interested in them only to find most have moved on from even thinking of them.
Comebacks don’t exist for the unknowns.
Let’s be honest, most of us are not big shots in comedy.
While our egos may tell us we’re somebody, the truth is many of us are and will only remain scene-level comics. That’s just how this business is, some people make it and some people don’t.
There is somewhat of a totem pole for the levels you reach in comedy and there is a point where the gap is bridged from the scene to industry and you start receiving real opportunities. However, the further down you are on that pole the less likely your “comeback” is going to have any impact. Maybe if you were on late night television or were working the clubs heavily, but if you never bridge the gap between the scene and the industry you’ll be starting from scratch each time.
Your passion will come into question.
I can’t emphasize this enough, but passion is VERY important.
For example, I had a comic send me a tape asking to be on our Gotham show earlier this month. This comic had been out of the game for over ten years (already a bad sign) and could only speak of comedy-related things he had done before 2008. When I reviewed the tape it looked like he didn’t want to be there and he was just so blasé about his performance that it made me question whether he really even wanted to be in comedy anymore.
If anyone questions your desire to be part of an industry, it’s a kiss of death and just like a bad reputation that uncertainty will impact everyone else’s impression of you. Know that.
Always remember that this is your career. No one can make you work at it; you have to do that for yourself and you will only remain appealing for opportunities if you show that you have the desire to continue your craft.
Got questions or something to add? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!