When you are first starting your comedy career, there will be a lot of ups and downs. You will be working one week and may not work again for another two weeks or so. This can have a negative effect on comedians, especially those that suffer from other mental health issues. Let’s go over some ways to keep you motivated when the downs happen.
Be around comedy What happens with comedians sometimes is they will only come out to perform when they are getting compensated. This may work for the upper levels of comedians that are booked virtually all year, but if you are just starting or beginning to get paid, coming out to comedy shows and the like can be a great boon for your career and your mind! When you are seen out at open mics and shows, it lets the people in the local area know that you are still pursuing comedy, and that increases your chances of getting booked. If you have a local club and you are always going in to check out the shows, the management there will know that you are around and that opens the door for being put on shows.
Let them know you are looking for work Look at the months coming up. If you don’t have anything lined up, then start contacting those you know to see if you can be apart of a show. This doesn’t mean just the normal format of show. There are all kinds of special shows going on where you may smoke weed after your set and get back up, or drink and argue with other comedians. These shows have the benefit of having a lot of other comedians there and networking with them can benefit you when you have another dry stretch. If you have worked at clubs or know of bookers that are booking rooms, make sure you send them those dates that you are open. Keep it up and that can help close a lot of those holes in your schedule.
Networking This is kind of a combination of the first two steps above. Go to your local club and rub elbows or butts or whatever with the other comedians. Comedy is a very small community. Knowing enough people can keep you busy! You don’t have to kiss ass or anything either. You can just approach comedians after the show and introduce yourself. It helps even more if you are on a show together. That way they can vouch for you.
Keep writing I see this so much. A comedian will start getting a little bit of work and then they stop really writing material and then the work dries up and they are left scratching their head as to why that may be the case. Your one weapon to keep you relevant is your material. If you only have twenty minutes and you have performed at your local club they can’t really use you as much as the person that has a bucket full of jokes to pull from. I think one of the worst things someone can say about a comedian is, “I heard all that last time they were here.”. If you keep working you will keep working.
Engage in other creative endeavors The worst thing to do when the shows slow down is to stop being creative. Just maintaining yourself in creative task can jolt you out of a slump and keep your mind on task. I like to write and take photographs so I will write a couple of sketches or go out and photograph some stuff, anything to keep my mind working and that usually keeps jokes coming to me and keeps me out and about.
Don’t let it define your worth This is an important one. When I first started out, if I had a couple weeks of no work I would let it get to me big time. My mind would just go nuts and I would assume that it meant I wasn’t funny if I wasn’t getting work. That is usually not the case for most comedians. Sometimes it is just a matter of the ones that are better at networking will get the work. It took me many years to realize that having jokes and sitting in your house are not how you get work as a comedian. I still have a ways to go, but I am not so down in the dumps because I haven’t had a working weekend in three weeks. I see that and I hit the pavement. When you are feeling down about your comedy is when you should strive to fix it.
I hope this helps. Being motivated is one of the ways to turn comedy from a part time job into a career.