No matter what level you’re at in your comedy career, you probably wish you had more fans than you currently do. And while that’s a worthy goal, it doesn’t mean there aren’t some advantages to not having much of a fanbase at all.
If you’re getting down on yourself and your struggles to grow your fanbase, here’s three advantages of not having any fans…enjoy them while you can before the world catches on to your talent.
1. You Can Experiment
When nobody’s paying attention to you and what you do, you have no excuse not to experiment with your comedy in as many ways as possible. After all, if nobody’s watching, you’ve got nothing to lose.
Take advantage of this time to try out new material, a new style of comedy, and as many different outlets for your comedy as you can. Try stand up, take an Improv class, put on a one-man show, write a screenplay, launch a blog, make a video, launch a fictional character-based Twitter account, or try anything you can think of that seems fun, interesting, or challenging.
Ultimately, your experimentation will likely lead you to something that clicks with audiences and triggers the growth of your fanbase. But if you don’t experiment, and instead stay stuck on whatever one thing you think is going to be the thing that “breaks” you, the chances are it will never happen for you.
2. There’s No Pressure
I know there’s a certain level of emotional pressure any time you step on stage or create something and release it to the world, but that’s nowhere near the pressure that will come later in your career when you’re more established.
Comparatively, you don’t really have anything to lose when you don’t really have any fans in the first place. Try to remind yourself that it doesn’t really matter if you bomb on stage sometimes or if you don’t nail an audition, because you’re still learning and growing as a comedian. It’s part of the process – you need to accept it and not let it get to you.
There will be plenty of time for you to feel pressure down the road when hundreds of people have shelled out a bunch of money to specifically see you, or when you land your dream gig and then have to deliver the goods in order to keep the job. But when you’re starting out the only pressure you should feel is being put on yourself by yourself – so try not to get too much in your own head and enjoy the process.
3. There’s No Preconceived Notions About Who You Are And What You Do
When you have success in your career and have built a fanbase, your fans will have certain expectations about who you are as a comedian and what you do. And while often those expectations will be based on your actual interests and style, many times they will be based on perceptions of your interests and lifestyle.
For example, in his recent appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, comedian Doug Stanhope talks extensively about living up to the perceptions his fans have about his lifestyle and world view. Stanhope has a large and rabid fanbase that I’m sure he wouldn’t trade for the world. However, he also struggles to deal with their perception of him and his act and how to balance who he is as he evolves with the comedian that his fanbase wants him to be.
But as a comedian who doesn’t yet have a fanbase, you don’t have to worry about any preconceived notions people may have about you. Most likely, when audiences see you (online or offline), they are seeing you for the very first time and you have the opportunity to present yourself in whatever manner you choose. That’s a cool opportunity and one which I encourage you to think about and have fun with.
Would you trade any of these advantages for a larger fanbase? Of course you would, but that’s not the point of this article. The point is that even if you’re frustrated at your lack of a fanbase, it’s worth taking a moment to look at the silver lining of being a relative unknown – it gives you some freedom to do things you won’t always be able to do once you’ve “made it.”
So, try to enjoy the moment while it lasts.