It should only matter to you. As of last Tuesday I’m now at 13 years. What’s gotten me through? My other careers. There was the bank, substitute teaching and now full-time teaching as well as a marriage. Without the two things that are more important to me than working the road (my wife and my teaching), I don’t know what I would write most of my material about. So yeah, thirteen years blah blah blah.
Anyway, I wanted to point out that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been performing. There’s no way to gauge how far along you should be because of all of the variables. Yes at 13 years I should be headlining, but instead of making headlining money I earn it from a different outlet so that doesn’t matter (as much) to me. It took me six years to become comfortable featuring and another three to become strong at thirty minutes. I’m a bit of a late bloomer.
This week’s advice is this…Don’t feel bad or good about where you are and how long/short it took you to get there. In Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage I tell a story about a headliner who tries to subtly brag about how few years he had been performing by casually slipping it into the conversation. It made him sound bad and I haven’t heard anything about him since.
On the other side, comics who try to brag about how long they’ve been at it can sound just as pathetic because half the time they’re doing it at an open mic show with no sign of any professional shows on the horizon. What little respect you might hope to gain by telling everyone how long you’ve been performing will probably be lost in the judgement of the others listening.