In this article, The Business of Stand-Up Comedy: Be a Part of the Comedy Community – Part 1, I’ll discuss the importance of participating in the world of stand-up comedy, and not just going out and performing.
Part of being in the business is letting everyone know you’re in the game. Anyone who is great at anything will immerse themselves into that field. They’ll surround themselves with people who are in it, read the literature about it, sign up for newsletters, hangout with the professionals.
Stand-up comedy is not just a job; it’s a lifestyle. If you’re not willing to do this, understand there are thousands of comics who are already doing this and working their way up.
Here are a few suggestions:
• Haunt a Comedy Club
By haunt, I mean be there as often as you can with the goal of working your way to getting stage time. If the club owner/manager asks you to do something…do it. No matter how below your station in life you believe this task to be.
At the Comedy Store in Hollywood the beginner comics are asked to volunteer their time to be door persons, park cars, answer phones, etc. You must also be willing to do whatever it takes to get stage time and further your career.
• Be Visible
Make sure the other comics and club managers know you are around. Make regular appearances at all the clubs. Drink at the bar with the working comics.
Have a web presence. Join the Facebook stand-up comedy groups. Consistently send out bulletins and invitations to your shows. The old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind,” is very true in comedy. Be in sight and in mind.
• Get to Know as Many Comics as Possible
The more friendly contacts you have in this business the better. Most every comic you meet will have some information about a room or comedy contact. In fact, some of the worst comics have the most contacts because they don’t work on their show as much as they network. This will also come in handy as your career grows.
Whenever my wife Gayla Johnson and I go to Las Vegas, which is often, we always drop by several comedy shows and get in free. When comics are on the road they’re usually delighted to see a familiar face, even if it’s a casual acquaintance. This is not just about politics…it is about making friends. Sometimes, lifelong friends.
• See Other Comics
Most comics are so wrapped up in their own struggle that they miss the chance to study and network with other comics. Of course, go to see Eddie Izzard, Chris Rock, Bill Burr and the like.
But also take the time to go to a club and support one of your fellow comics on a night when he or she needs an audience. Most comics will reciprocate in kind and show up at your shows.
Part of the training in my workshop is to get everyone to work in collaboration. In writing material, giving each other solution feedback and going to each other’s shows. This builds a community that you’re a central part of. Create a gang of comics who know and support one another. Remember, today’s comic is tomorrow’s sit-com producer.
In my next article, The Business of Stand-Up Comedy: Be a Part of the Comedy Community – Part 2, I’ll continue to offer more ways of advancing your career within your local comedy world.