The comedy business is a difficult one and it’s very tempting to compare every aspect of your career – your act, your fanbase, your pay, your bookings, your representation, etc. – to that of other comedians who you may believe are comparable to you (or even better/worse than you are).
But while it’s tempting to judge your progress in comparison to other comics, it’s actually not very helpful and can probably do you more harm than good. Here’s a few reasons why…
1. It’s Counter-Productive.
Every moment you spend trying to figure out why another comedian has more opportunities or success than you do is a moment that could be better spent working on your own career. The reality is that comparing yourself to other comedians will often result in more frustration than inspiration, and that frustration will block you from doing what you need to do to succeed.
There’s a million factors that go into building a successful comedy career and many of them are out of your control. Try to spend time focusing on the things you can control as opposed to spending time thinking about why things are happening for other people instead of you.
2. You’re Probably Comparing The Wrong Metrics Anyway.
I’m always amazed when I talk to comics how they can often get hung up on little things that ultimately will have little or no impact on your career. A comic that has 1,000 more Twitter followers than you do doesn’t matter if those “followers” aren’t actually paying attention to his tweets – something you have no way of knowing as an outsider. And just because a comic you know seems to get better set times at your local open mic, does that really mean he’s any closer to actually building a successful long term career than you are? No, he’s not.
If your goal is to ultimately get a job as a comedy writer, then why do you care if another comic is getting more acting auditions than you are? I know this seems a little obvious, but it’s amazing how often comedians get sucked into comparing the state of their career to their peers based on metrics that are meaningless to your own actual career goals.
3. Comedy Success Is Not An Either/Or Career Path.
One of the biggest reasons it’s meaningless to compare yourself to other comedians is because in comedy there’s no limit to how many comedians can be successful. Just because the comedian you may be comparing yourself to has succeeded, doesn’t mean that you can’t.
Sure, there are elements of the comedy business that are competitive, but for the most part success is available for as many people who work to get it. It’s not like the NBA, where there’s only a certain number of roster spots and you have to beat out the competition. In comedy, all you have to do is attract a fanbase – and your fans are welcome to support as many comics as they choose.
So who cares if some other comedians are succeeding (or failing for that matter)? Their success has absolutely zero impact on your ability to succeed.
4. It’s A Sure Way To Lose Your Unique Voice
What’s going to make you succeed ultimately is how unique you are. But the more time you spend comparing yourself to other comedians and trying to figure out why they’re succeeding and you’re not, the more likely you are to try to adapt some of their ways.
It may seem like a good idea (and I’m certainly not saying that you shouldn’t learn from the experts), but ultimately you want to make sure that you maintain your unique perspective in your comedy. Don’t try to do what other people do in the hopes that it will bring you fame and fortune. It won’t.