Comedy is one of the hardest parts of the entertainment industry to break out in. For every Jerry Seinfeld they are 10,000 comics like me that have a lot of holes in there calendar and don’t know how to fill it. I think a lot of people get into certain things looking at the end result before looking at the trail needed to walk to get to there. No one just gets up on stage and their second or third time on stage they get a special and a TV show. Unlike music or movies, comedians go through the gauntlet and a lot of people never really make it out. From crappy bookers to long lonely drives it is not always being a superstar.
Starting out you will spend a lot of time in bars and comedy clubs trying to write a set 2-3 minutes at a time. If you drink I guess this isn’t a problem, but if you don’t then you will have to deal with the one comic that is drunk, and he can’t get on stage unless he is wasted. You will then notice a trend. Comics are broken people. I have never met a normal comic. They all have perverse minds that see the world as a playground. They are troubled and feel a need to be accepted and this is before you even get paid work.
I have been doing it for 10 years now and the majority of my shows still take place in a bar. A lot of the time the people in the bar didn’t know something was going on even though there have been posters of your face plastered over every inch of the place for a month. Some of the bars patrons don’t want to hear you. They want to look at the TV so you have to come out HARD to get their attention. If you lose em? You may have to perform for two tables up front. If you don’t get a drunk person yelling at you, then you will be forced a lot of the time to sit around while the bar staff figures out who is supposed to pay you. I don’t know how many times I have had to sit there while the owner of the bar sees if I will just walk away without pay or something? Does that work? Are people just leaving their jobs without getting their paychecks?
Most of the time you will deal with bookers and not all bookers are true to their word. You may get there to find out the pay has changed or that you have to wait two weeks to get paid…if at all. Bookers are people as well. Usually people that want to make more money than you. If you don’t want to be pissed off, don’t find out how much the booker makes compared to you each show. I have met a lot of bookers and only a couple would I leave my prized sheep with.
There are lonely drives and lonely nights after not so great shows where you have to sit in hotel room that was last cleaned in the 90’s watching the history channel. Well, unless you get drunk or high then you will probably forget to lock the door to the shady hotel room and get robbed of the 40 dollars you have left from the show. You will be eating terrible food, unless you eat just fruits and vegetables. When I am out doing comedy, I eat like a raccoon in a suburb. Just junk.
Now, you may be saying, “Well, why are you doing it then?”. Why would you do this? Why would you subject yourself to abuse and being told that everything you have worked so hard on sucks? For the love of the craft. No one goes into this (or should) thinking they will be the next big star. You do it because you love to make people laugh. So much so that you want to make it your profession. This post is not to discourage you. I get down on myself for weeks at a time. I sulk about wondering what I am missing and why no booker will call me back. Then something breaks and I am on the road for a month straight. The thing is that you have to work. I mean WORK. You want to be a professional comic? Well, are you willing to give up 2-3 hours a night 6-7 days a week to perfect your jokes and network? Are you willing to drive to whoknowswhere and tell jokes in front of 8 pissed off locals for 30 bucks and all the off brand energy drink you can chug? Are you willing to email bookers everyday for weeks on end to get some bookings? You have to be honest with yourself. If you are willing to do it 40% of the time then expect 40% in return. You can’t expect this to drop in your lap. Out of all the forms of entertainment, this take more fine tuning than any other and if you would rather sit at home and watch America’s got talent then you should not be upset when someone that works their ass off every night goes further than you. This is the reality of the game you chose to play.