Comics believe that if you want to “make it” you have to be in a big city. Now, being in a large city will give you more chances to get up every night and you have more chances to succeed. There is no reason however, that you can’t do well in a smaller town. You will have to work a little bit and be willing to drive, but it is possible.
A lot of comics in small towns are comfortable being there and they understand that an exec from NBC isn’t coming to their neck of the woods looking for talent. There are some that do not understand, that if you are in a smaller comedy market, you have to do more to get the same amount of work that someone in a larger market is getting. That seems logical, but a lot of people don’t really get that. You have to be willing to drive to the cities where the comedy is happening and get noticed. That means going to open mics and independent pro shows and mingling with the other comics. The reason I said independent shows is because if you go to a comedy club, you may not meet the person that can get you in that room.
If you do have aspirations of doing comedy for a living, then you already know how important it is to work on your material. In a smaller city, you may not even have an open mic. That is when you create one yourself! It isn’t that hard really. A lot of bars are looking for cheap entertainment and there is nothing cheaper than free comedy. The only issue with this is that you have to have people willing to come out to the open mic. If you are not sure how many other comedians are living where you do you could try going to open mics that are not comedy related. There is always a poetry open mic or a mic where there are a mix of things going on. Give it a try.
If you do have open mics in the area, you will be best serve to make sure you hit them all as much as possible. I am a proponent of going to open mics. I think it is the best way to get comfortable being on stage in front of people, which is what you want to do…right? I get it, if you are in a small town and comedy isn’t a big thing people like to do, that it can be frustrating to always play in front of nobody, but if you want to get better than this is an important step, I believe.
I live in Spokane, WA. I like the area, but it is not a haven for comics. With that being said, I have to use the resources that are in the area to then be able to branch out and make money in other areas. So, I will do the open mics in town and work on my material, and then I will go to Seattle and Portland and other larger areas, and I talk and interact with other comics that live there. Comics are human, so if you are cool with them and are funny, they will help you as much as possible. Also because I do not live in these areas, I can get on open mics easier and that will attract people who think I am funny. All of this helps me make money even though I live in a city where I only do about 5% of my shows.
I hope this will help those living in smaller areas, to not get discouraged and to keep on keeping on. If you just work a little bit harder at making sure you are not forgotten, you can make waves, and a little cash, in comedy no matter where you reside.