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What Does It Really Mean To Be In The Comedy Business?

March 3, 2012

I know most comedians cringe at the mere suggestion that they are business people, but the reality is that in order to have a successful comedy career these days you have to recognize that you are a business person – whether you choose to think of yourself as one or not.

And once you come to grips with that fact, it’s worth taking a moment to consider exactly what kind of business you are running.

Are you in the service business? Will you make (or fail to make) your fortune based on your ability to service your clients?

And if you are, then who are your clients? Your fans? Strangers? Bookers? Venues? Podcast listeners? Do you even know who you are trying to service and how? Do you know what they want from you?

Are you in the manufacturing business? Does the ultimate success of your business lie in the products you create? Is it about your albums, your live show, your video series, your merchandise?

If you’re in the manufacturing business, do the economics of production work for you? How will you sell what you manufacture? Are your products sustainable? Is there a customer base for what you’re manufacturing? Are you making the right products?

Are you just an employee? Maybe you’re not a business owner, maybe you’re just somebody that’s going to work for somebody else. There’s no shame in that, and it can certainly be very lucrative.

Is your path to success dependent on others hiring you to act in their projects, write for their creations, or help them reap bigger rewards? And if so, how does that impact every other decision you make as relates to your career?

There’s no right or wrong answers to any of these questions, but I do think you’d be foolish not to at least consider them as you plot your roadmap to a successful career.

You can be in one of these businesses or all three. But if you’re not in any of them? Then you’re probably headed nowhere fast.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott Wood March 12, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Comedy is a business and you couldn’t have said it better. Know who you are as a performer and writer and then market your talent heavily to their full potential. Jokes, videos on the net, DVD’s, CD’s, Live shows…You name it! If the people don’t know about you nobody’s gonna show up to the event. Show Business is more than show!


Susan December 17, 2014 at 10:38 pm

I have been told I was funny but took my brother advise and took a class it went well I had a few people come up to me and tell me I was funny, Even Jeff Foxworthy told me be patient and things would come. I JUST WANT A CHANCE.


kayode March 12, 2012 at 9:46 pm

well said Josh
“show-business is a compound word”


Fred Moore March 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm

The fantastic Bill Herz once said “There’s a reason that the Business part of Show Business is twice as long as the Show part. It’s twice as important!”


Denis Bernicky April 26, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Whether you are in service, manufacturing or are an employee you have to be good at getting good references. One of the things which constantly has me flummoxed is when comics don’t link to good reviews. I can understand not wanting to link to the bad ones but when you have a good review and a product to sell (yourself) why would you not point out that other people think you are good at what you do? Word of mouth in the social networking age is more than just getting 60 seconds of drive time on the radio in a local market. Every business needs references including show business.


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