You have been thinking about trying stand-up comedy for awhile. Your friends all say you should try it. In conversations with strangers you easily get laughs. People gravitate towards you at parties. You fire off comebacks and retorts like a Gatling gun. In short, you think you have what it takes.
Maybe, you even went to a comedy “open stage” night. On a dare you got onstage and not only did well, you won the contest.
In either case, if you are interested in becoming a comedian you need to answer three simple questions:
Are you a self-starting, highly independent, stubborn, creative type?
Are you able to prioritize your time?
Can you distinguish constructive criticism from negative feedback?
Three simple questions. But three you cannot ignore. How do you know if you are built for stand up comedy before you have even tried it?
By nature, stand up comedy looks fun. The great comics make it look effortless and easy. But don’t fool yourself. It’s a long road full of ups and downs, curves and potholes. Gut wrenching close calls and exhilarating successes occur within hours of each other. Can you stay focused and ride that wave?
Let’s assume you are fortunate enough to get enough traction to be bookable. There will be long stretches away from your family and friends (for some that might be a bonus). You will have to take long drives across the state, or country – just to do seven minutes of comedy. You won’t get paid. You will do this for free. All in hopes that someone will see your set and hire you down the line.
You will have shows where your mind goes blank. There will be nights where you have to abandon your act and battle hecklers. You will perform sick, sad, distracted and stressed. You will have nights where the crowds stare at you. Boo you. Or even walk out on you.
But there are the other nights. Nights when inspiration and improvisation meld and magic happens. Those nights can make everything worthwhile.
So, it is a roller coaster ride for sure.
Are you the kind of person who enjoys that type of experience? Do you have thick skin? Do you handle the lonely times in a positive and productive manner?
Let’s face it. Our friends laugh because they like us. Our friends encourage us because they believe in us. But all that counts is this: YOU MUST BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.
Your friends aren’t sacrificing their lifestyle, income, self-esteem or sanity to pursue a dream. They are telling you to do it.
When the going gets tough, it will come down to how you handle things. Because, your friends aren’t going to be there at 1:30 AM on the side of the road when your spare tire pops.
Your friends won’t be at the midnight show on a Saturday in Odessa, TX where you are the only one without a sidearm.
And, your friends won’t be there when the struggling club stiffs you after working all week.
You must be open to criticism. You must be willing to put up with people less focused than yourself. You must be able to continue writing material, even when your shows are going well. Especially when your shows aren’t going well.
It is easy to have a night or two of comedy that goes unexpectedly well. Especially with the support of your buddies. It may seem like comedy is right up your alley. It may be. But it’s all the other things that go with it that you should consider.
Before you commit to the idea of becoming a comedian, make sure you set aside the time to be a great one. Develop the skills. Learn the craft. Realize that you will need to deal with the down side, down time and down right tough nights of stand “up” comedy.
If you decide this is worth all the hard work, then I encourage you to get involved with your local comedy scene. Go to open mic nights. Hang out with funny people. Be supportive, take chances and learn from mistakes.
Are you suited for stand up comedy? You are a stubborn enough to have read this far. You’ve made good use of your time (I believe).
Now go test your creativity and ability to take criticism. Give it a shot, find out. If you put in the hard work will be one of the luckiest people in the world.