In honor of Thanksgiving, let’s take a break from the negativity and struggle that permeates so much of the conversation about the comedy business and remember that there’s actually a lot of things for comedians to be thankful for these days.
Whether you’re an established comic, or somebody just starting out, here’s 15 things I think are worth taking a moment to appreciate in the next few days.
1. Your Fans
Whether you’ve got thousands of fans or just your Mom hanging on your every word, you should truly appreciate each and every one of the people who care enough to pay attention to what you create. We’re living in a world where there’s never been more competition for a person’s attention, and it’s honestly a miracle when anybody is willing to consistently give you some of theirs.
2. Free Social Media Tools
For all the bitching that people do about social media platforms it’s easy to forget how many incredible tools have been provided to comedians at no cost. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and virtually every other social platform spends millions of dollars to provide you with an opportunity to reach the world and doesn’t charge you a penny to do it.
3. The Opportunity To Learn
Things like YouTube, Netflix and Google have ushered in an era where it’s never been easier to watch comedy, study comedy, and learn from a library of content that’s easier and more inexpensive to access than at any point in history. For virtually no cost, you can access just about any comedic performance that’s ever happened or read articles and learn from the greatest comedic performers of all time. There’s never been a better time to learn from the masters than right now.
4. The Ability To Communicate With Established Comics
Now that just about every working comedian is using social media in one form or another, it’s created opportunities for you to reach out to them and connect with them to build relationships, ask them questions, or just simply compliment their work. Will Louis CK respond to every tweet you send to him? Of course not, but there are opportunities out there to get to successful comics in ways that there never were before.
5. The Opportunity To Make A Living By Making People Laugh
The mere fact that it’s possible to have a comedy career is something to be thankful for if you think about it. It may not be easy to make a living by making people laugh, but it is possible and there are lots of people out there doing it. Even if you’re not one of those people yet, you should appreciate knowing that it can be done – after all, there’s a lot worse ways to make a living.
6. The Chance To Start Over
Online tools allow comedians an opportunity that they rarely think about – the chance to start over. If things aren’t working out for you, you can always delete what you’ve done – take down your videos, take down your social accounts, take down your website, and “re-create” yourself from scratch. If what you’re doing hasn’t been working and you want to start over, you can. Second (or third) chances are worth appreciating.
7. The Comedy Community
Whether you live in a small town, a big city, or are just part of the online comedy community, it’s pretty amazing the way comedians can bond together to support and help each other. Just like any community, comedians have their fair share of jealousy and burned bridges, but overall I’ve found the comedy community to be way more helpful and supportive of its peers than just about any other profession.
8. The End Of The Gatekeeper Era
Do comedy gatekeepers still exist and are they a huge part of the comedy business? Yes. But, it’s also now possible to build a successful career without going through the gatekeepers and that’s a HUGE shift in the industry. There’s more ways than ever to build a successful comedy career these days, and you no longer have to wait for somebody to “discover” you in order to make it happen.
9. The People That Give You Opportunities
No matter where you’re at with your career, you’re likely surrounded by people who give you opportunities. Whether it’s stage time at an open mic, help producing a video, or a guy who shows you how to register your website domain, there are lots of people out there who help create opportunities for you. You should be grateful for everything they do for you – even the things that seem small. Because those small things, and the people that do them, can often lead to much bigger things.
10. The Opportunity To Get Better
Comedy is an art form where the more you do it, the better you will get. There’s no guarantee that you’ll ever get good enough to make it, but it’s a sure thing that your 100th time on stage will be better than your first. Not all things are like that and it’s important to recognize that just having the ability to ensure that the work you put in will result in improvement is a great thing.
11. Every View, Listen, Like, Comment, and Share
Every single time somebody takes the time to engage with something you have created is an incredible experience and one that should be valued. It’s easy to take for granted things like retweets or video views, but those are important actions from people who can really help you grow your career.
12. Your Day Job
Too many comics are too eager to leave their day job too soon. They think that the sooner they can do that, the sooner they will be considered a “real” comedian and that it will free up their time to work more on their comedy.
But often times comedians overlook the value of their day job and the value of what it provides. The financial benefits of a day job, the structure, and the life experiences it can create often times can do more to help your comedy career than hurt it. If you’ve got a decent day job, you might want to take a moment to appreciate it instead of trying to figure out how to leave it before that’s necessary.
13. The Host Of Your Show
If you’re performing on a standup show, the show’s host/MC matters – a lot. Recognize the importance of the comic filling that role and appreciate the role that they have to play in your performance on that stage.
14. Comedy Clubs
Comedy clubs are far from perfect, but they do provide some incredible opportunities for comedians. It’s a brutal business and most clubs are taking on a lot of financial risk to provide you with opportunities – you should be thankful that there are people out there willing to do that. And while there are a lot of club owners that aren’t exactly the best people in the world, there are still lots of them who treat comics well, are passionate about the art form, and do their best to create what everybody wants – a great show.
15. People Who Hate Comedy Clubs
While I think you should appreciate comedy clubs, I also think you should appreciate all the indie promoters and comedy fans who have turned their backs on the clubs. Their efforts have led to a rise in new comedy venues, alternative rooms filled with hardcore comedy fans, and a whole wave of new opportunities for comedians. Plus, the success of these alternative venues has forced comedy clubs to step up their game and improve their own situations to compete.
Now It’s Your Turn…
What do you think comedians should be thankful for? Tell me on Twitter.
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