The Myth Of The Big Break

Comedians are always looking for that opportunity to get to the next level.  Some call it their “big break”. I believe that there is no such thing.

First, I don’t think there is such a thing as a big break.  I believe it is akin to steps.  What I mean is, there are little processes that lead you to the place you want to be.  What some comedians believe is that it isn’t steps but more like a leap, or jumping into an airborne aircraft.  You don’t go: first night, open mic and then second night, Starring in your own movie.  Doesn’t work like that.  There are a lot of chances to get you where you are going.

I don’t know how many comedians I have known over the years that thought that all they had to do was get on stage and a producer from NBC or Comedy Central would scoop them up and hand them a million dollars. It is the same thinking as a poor person waiting on the lottery to solve all of their problems.  Some comedians will point to a person that is red hot right now as an example of overnight success.  Here is the biggest issue with that thinking:  If you are not prepared then what are you going to do when you do get that chance?  If you aren’t out there performing and getting better, even if an opportunity hit you in the face you wouldn’t know what to do with it.  Every example that I hear of, the person that was doing it for two years and now they are in movies or the guy that went to an open mic and got blown by an executive from Comedy Central is missing a couple of key points.  First, it could have been a fluke.  That isn’t how it is normally so you should not expect it to work out that way for you.  Second, and what this paragraph has been trying to get at from the first word, they must have been prepared enough.  If just getting there is the goal then they succeeded.  If it was to stay there then they still have work to do.

I had been doing comedy for about 4 years when in the span of like 3 months I opened for a couple of big acts.  Like national big.  I thought it was my big chance to get up to the opening these big acts.  It didn’t pan out.  I think what was important was that I didn’t let that be my one and only chance!  The same thing happened when I went to Seattle to be in their international comedy competition.  I thought this was my big chance and I think I put way to much on just a competition.  Because even if I had won the whole thing, that doesn’t mean I could just lay back and rest on that little resume enhancer.  I would still have to kick butt everywhere I went.

I think it is a product of what YouTube has done to fame and fortune.  YouTube has made it that you can be an overnight success.  I think as humans though we are bad with these sorts of things.  We tend to believe that if it can work for that one guy then it has to work for us.  Those people are outliers, anomalies, freaks. The average comedian will spend years honing their craft to the point that it is as sharp as can be before they get opportunities.  That’s what you should be striving for, being a better comedian, not being a flash in the pan…unless that is what you want.


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