It’s not easy being a comedian and it’s a profession that’s filled with rejection and no shortage of things to fear. However, even though fears are a big part of pursuing a comedy career they are too often given more credence than they deserve.
Specifically, here’s three things I’ve noticed most comedians are way more afraid of than they should be…
1. Getting Your Material Stolen
Do jokes get stolen (intentionally and unintentionally)? Yes. Is it something you should worry about? No.
Too many comedians spend too much time worrying about other comedians stealing their material when it’s ultimately meaningless and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it anyway. It’s amazing to me how many comedians will hurt their own career by refusing to share material online (in videos, tweets, Facebook updates, blogs, etc.) for fear that somebody else may steal their material.
At the end of the day, nobody else is going to build a career based on your joke – in order to succeed in comedy it’s about much more than just your jokes. There’s a lot less joke theft going on than you think, and the people who are stealing material rarely have any success with it anyway so it’s meaningless. Don’t worry about what other comics are doing, just focus on your own act.
Sure, there’s a chance somebody may borrow some of your material. But there’s virtually no chance if they do it will have any impact on your career…or theirs.
2. Being Disliked By Part Of The Audience
If you’re not yet a headlining comedian who’s playing to an audience that specifically came to see you and is familiar with your work, then you shouldn’t expect every person in the audience to like your act. When you’re performing to a room that has no idea who you are, it’s likely that room is packed with a wide variety of people who have different senses of humor.
Your comedy, if you’re doing it right, shouldn’t be for everybody. So don’t worry if not everybody in the room loves you, but rather concentrate on making sure that at least some of the people (hopefully the majority of the room) love you. That’s ultimately who your fanbase is going to become.
You’ll find you get more long-term benefit from making half the crowd think you’re amazing than you will making the full crowd think you’re just OK. If you keep that mindset, you’ll be a little less concerned about a few people disliking your act.
3. Being Ridiculed By Your Peers
If you’ve been doing comedy for any extended period of time, then I’m sure you’ve already come to realize the delicate nature of comedian friendships. No matter how nice you are, you’re going to make some enemies and most times their dislike for you will not even be justified (though sometimes it will be – you know who you are).
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of adjusting what you do based on criticism you receive from other comedians and that’s not always the best thing for you or your act. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing more valuable then some genuinely helpful advice from a more experienced comedian who truly has your best interests at heart – but make sure you understand that comedian’s perspective and respect their advice before you take it.
Lots of comedians have their own agendas, jealousies, and other “quirks” that lead their comments to do you more harm than good. You need to follow your own instincts and not be afraid to be ridiculed by other comedians. Just because nobody else does something like you do, doesn’t mean that you’re wrong. It could mean that you’re right.
Can you think of other things comedians are more afraid of than they should be? Please add your thoughts in the comments below…