3 Offstage Actions to Take to Accelerate the Full-Time Comic Process…

There are a lot of comics eager to feature and make comedy their only career.  Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to do well within the first two to three years.  If you’re a bit older and have more life experience than the average 24-year-old, that helps.  If you’re simply gifted at comedy (which is very rare) that may allow you to become full-time even sooner.  You have to have the material and joke-writing ability and that can take years (at least five for me).

So what can you do in the mean time while you’re building your experience levels? (kinda like those Final Fantasy games)

1.  Break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend.  When you’re in love, it’s hard to put comedy first.  If you do, they’ll get even with you and you’ll end up getting hurt.  It’s best to be single so that it doesn’t matter how late you’re out.  I once turned down a gig so that I didn’t break a 3-month anniversary date with a girl.  I was dumb.  When you put sex love first, it’s going to cut into your career ambition.  Odds are it’s not going to go well and at some point it’s going to be an even bigger distraction and financial burden.  But won’t it make great material when we break up?  Art comes from pain, right?  Sure it will.  Do that now and then good luck coming up with an original punchline for the most overused setup in comedy.

And don’t you dare think about taking him/her on the road with you!  Those mishaps are covered in Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage.  “What’s she going to do, Rob?  Wreck the car an hour before showtime?”  It happened.  Read all about it.

2.  Get a full-time job.  You need to be able to work gigs where you’re going to lose money.  I used to drive 5 hours to Topeka for a $100 gig.  That’s not very profitable.  By having less free time, you’ll find your work ethic and need to get better will be much improved.  Suddenly, those 3 hours of free time won’t be wasted on video games (kinda like those Final Fantasy games–ha, callback!).  There are challenges to working a day job, but if you can’t handle that, you can’t handle the road.  It takes self-discipline.  Build up your savings account, get a car that works, move back to your parents’ place or the cheapest rent you can find…and then all of a sudden…quit your day job.

3.  Make comedy your main source of income.  Some people can’t stand the thought of going into debt.  If comedy is your main income, I guarantee you won’t flake out on making the calls you need to make.  With nothing on your schedule, you’ll have plenty of time to send those avails out.  (By the way, send those out often–monthly at least.  Most club managers aren’t offended by that, especially if you’ve worked there before.)  These three steps are a multi-year process, but the most motivational thing you can do.  As your money runs out, pick up something part time again, but let the reality of poverty and the shittiness of a comic’s income sink in before you decide this is really what you want to do with your life.  What percentage are you willing to commit?

Treat every club like a new job hiring process.  You need to find their calendar and see who’s working there so they can help you get a guest set.  Find out who actually books each club that you’re trying to get into.  There’s no point driving four hours to perform in front of the assistant manager who has no say in booking (I’ve done that too). The bills won’t stop and that’s usually enough motivation to take the necessary risks.  There’s plenty to do in the other 23 hours.

So basically:  dump, work, quit, scramble/hustle.

And yes, I linked a lot of previous posts in here; read those too.

Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage is available on Amazon, iTunes, Kindle, Nook, KOBO, etc.  I recommend paperback on Amazon for an easy reference guide.

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About Rob Durham

With an English Degree, three years as a doorman at the Columbus Funnybone, over a decade of stand-up experience, and a recent certification in teaching high school English class, writing a book seemed like the next inevitable step for Rob Durham. The son of a coach, Rob has an excellent ability to teach and explain things in the easiest and most direct way possible. His (often labeled ridiculous) memory allows him to think of every possible situation that a new comic might face because at one point he was there too. Rob gives an inside look at comedy that doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges every performer faces. Without ego and the myth that “anyone can do it” Rob gives the reader a true feel of what living the so-called dream feels like, from preparing for that first open mic night to touring the country. View all posts by Rob Durham

3 responses to “3 Offstage Actions to Take to Accelerate the Full-Time Comic Process…

  • mehgerbil

    Ditch my wife, become poor, work at Wal-Mart.
    I think you’re an agent of the devil trying to make people sad.
    However, I’m willing to consider this advice – I’ll talk to the wife tonight.

    • Rob Durham

      Basically. It’s why I’m not full-time anymore. You gotta be crazy, in your 20s, and able to survive like a college kid for years.

      • mehgerbil

        I actually appreciated that perspective in your book.
        I’m an old guy aspiring to do my first open mic in January.

        I’m concentrating on Toastmasters now; I already know how a failed joke can erase one’s memory and I already know that the audience laughs at the wrong stuff.

        I find it interesting for all the wrong reasons and I consider laughter good but if I can get someone to drop their head and say, “Oh gawd, oh dear gawd” – well, that just nourishes my soul.

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