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Feel Like An Outcast In Your Own Scene?
Feel Like An Outcast In Your Own Scene?
Many aspiring comedians don’t feel welcomed in their own town. The most common complaints are:
“I can’t get any spots.”
“It’s like a good ol’ boys club.”
“They ain’t letting nobody else in.”
I hear ya.
We’ve covered this topic a little bit in the past. (See: “Cracking the Comedy Clique”) In that post we assumed that maybe you were somewhat responsible for the cold reception.
If you feel that you aren’t a jerk, or annoying please read on. If you know that you are funny and the crowd is responding in a way that confirms it, read on.
Great, you are still reading.
Let’s discuss why the problem may not be you after all.
IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S THEM
You should know that many comedians, I would say MOST of them, are insecure. They are teetering on the edge of quitting after every show. They feel like no one appreciates them - and they’ve been at it for years.
Some may even believe that if they stopped showing up for open mics no one would even notice. I felt that way early on. In this mindset, these comics feel stuck and often times have stopped creating. They are on "auto-pilot". They have become “reciters” of their material.
In this instance, you remind them of who they used to be. Your energy and enthusiasm reminds them of why they used to love comedy in the first place. They see that burning desire to find every possible opportunity to get on stage. They hear the excitement in your voice when you tell a new joke.
These complacent comics see your joy. In their gut, they know they don’t have that same fire anymore.
So why are these more established comics comics avoiding you? It is because you are truth. You are still having fun. You are potential. And you are, in some way, what they wish they still could be.
MINDSET OF SCARCITY
Some comics avoid you because they fear you will take something away from them. Stage time. Focus. Laughs. These comics know their limitations. They sense you might have more to offer audiences. Because of their own lack of effort, they look at you as a threat.
Why would they help you get on stage? They believe it will only cut into their progress. They see comedy as a “survival of the fittest”. They feel that helping you will only hurt them. In short, they believe that there is not enough stage time to go around. They think you are going to siphon away some of that precious commodity.
I’ll be blunt. A great many comedians are needy. You often hear someone say, “I love making people laugh.”
Look closer. You’ll notice what they might mean is, “I love people telling me I am great. I love being right. I am awesome because people are laughing at my jokes.”
Being needy by nature isn’t always a bad thing. If it weren’t for this need for approval we wouldn’t hear comedians work through the problems of the day. There would be no one on-stage venting as if it were a ticketed therapy session. Needs get filled and jokes get told.
If a comedian becomes so needy that they are unwilling to accept a newcomer to the scene, that’s a problem. (Just a slightly bigger problem than a newcomer needing to feel accepted into the scene).
There is a difference between an ego-maniac, and someone who is constantly looking for acceptance from strangers.
Many great comics are hurting inside. Some come from broken homes. Some had a parent that didn’t express love. Some failed to live up to the accomplishments of a brother or sister. Still others didn’t have a home with any real belief systems, or values. The gift of worthiness was not instilled in them. It’s missing from their DNA.
Don't pass judgement on these folks. They have had it rough. They will need to make peace with their past before moving forward.
If you feel like an outcast around them, realize they may be in a mental place that has nothing to do with you. Just let them be. Listen closely, and encourage them if possible.
Being self-centered is almost necessary for a comedian’s success. In fact, an individual should base many decisions on the rewards it will give them.
“Will this help my career?”
“What’s in this for me?”
“How can I get this opportunity instead of everyone else?”
These questions all drive success. But obsessing over them causes guys like Jay Leno to hide out in a closet. Which he did to overhear discussions on the successor to the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. It also drives insecure headliners to select their own opening acts based not on how funny they are - but how funny they aren’t.
Don't go against your gut feeling when making career decisions. Be a little self-centered, or at least career minded on your journey. Just don't be consumed with every little decision. You will miss out on some awesome moments when your peers achieve success.
LET YOU BE ENOUGH FOR YOU
So what do you do when you don’t feel accepted in your local scene? Try putting the focus on your act. Try putting that wasted energy into creating material. Change what is within your ability and block out the noise of competition.
Connect and network with the other comics who are at your level, or newer. Make sure you network with comics you can trust and who are where you are or want to be.
Accept that you are good enough for you and move on.
- Rik Roberts / School Of Laughs
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