Is negativity part of the business?

As the first few people who ordered my book have finished it up I was able to hear one reviewer tell me that my book was very pessimistic.  I have to agree, in fact, I’m kind of glad to hear that.  One of my book’s goals is to discourage people from investing their life into something with big hopes and dreams only to find out later that it’s a terrible industry.  (Think of all the gas money I just saved you!)

The first negative about comedy is the lack of money, especially in this current economy.  Read the way it used to be versus how it is now in Chris Coen’s latest blog.  He sums up several of the common one-nighter problems.  Along with that there are bad road conditions, insulting paychecks, and tough crowds to deal with.  One week you do a set of jokes that kills, the next week people are offended.  “Crowds are like women, am I right?!” hacky 90s comic says.

So how are comics supposed to stay positive on the road?  By carrying on a relationship where they barely get to see a loved one? (that’s an upcoming topic)  Spending weeks in strange cities?  Being validated and judged on a nightly basis by people who they normally wouldn’t care about the opinions of?  These things wear on you and can be devastating.

The key to staying positive is to find other things in life that you build on top of your comedian lifestyle instead of letting it smother you.  No one is going to “make it” just doing stand-up.  While you’re on the road you may want to team up with the comics you work with (the ones you can stand and respect) to find things to do whether it be producing goofy youtube videos (Jake Iannarino does this), writing material, or just hanging out.  Have a bigger project to work on that relates to your stand-up career (obviously, mine was writing the book).  Get to know the people at the clubs so they eventually feel like family every time you work there.  There are a lot of ways to at least limit the negativity you’ll face.  I cover several more in Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage if you want to get a better feel for what it will be like.

Next week won’t be much happier.  I’l discuss how to handle criticism in a deeper way than, “Don’t take it personally!”

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