I like to go on walks occasionally to get some exercise and clear my head. Unfortunately, Los Angeles has been buried under a constant rainfall for the past week, so I haven’t managed to go on a walk since the apocalypse (that’s how a little drizzle is viewed in the City of Angels) began.
But today I ventured out into the rain for a walk and realized that walking in the rain actually has some lessons to offer people pursuing a comedy career. Here’s five of them:
1. Timing Is Everything
One of the reasons I ventured out for a walk today is because the rain had stopped. I looked out my window all morning and it was dry and, thinking the worst had passed, I finally ventured out for a walk in the afternoon. Sure enough, 20 minutes into my walk the sky opened up and it started raining again. Not the best timing on my part.
I had missed the window of opportunity today to have a dry walk, just like so many comedians miss their various windows of opportunities to take advantage of the tools they have available to them. Whatever you’re creating, timing is important. For example, there’s lots of comedians who now do all the same things that Dane Cook did in order to build his legion of devoted fans. The difference? Dane did it first and his timing was right.
The timing of when Dane first embraced using online tools to build a direct connection with his fans was the exact moment when a lot of these tools were exploding – particularly on college campuses. Dane flooded things like Napster with his content at a time when virtually no other comedians were doing so and he reaped the rewards. Don’t wait around when you see an opportunity hoping that it will still be there whenever you’re finally ready to go after it because if you do, you’ll likely wind up getting caught in the rain again like I did.
2. Don’t Forget Your Hood
The first 20 minutes of my walk was great – it felt good to get some exercise and be outside, so I was sufficiently annoyed when the rain started to fall. But even though I expected a dry walk, I still was wearing a hooded sweatshirt just in case I needed it. Sure enough, the rain fell and I was able to pull up my hood and carry on.
Whatever you set out to do with your comedy, you should bring along your own “hood” so that you don’t have to give up on your goal if things don’t necessarily go as you plan. Just because you think that your blog is going to be a huge hit, doesn’t mean that it will be. And what will you do then? Will you abandon it if only five people read your first five posts? Or will you push on, start to add more features and new content, confident that you can ultimately achieve your goal of building a larger audience?
3. Sometimes You Need To Change Your Route
When it started raining I abandoned my typical walking route and chose to go on one instead which would keep me a little closer to home in case the rain got too unbearable. Being able to adapt on the fly is important in pursuing your own comedy goals as well, because your audience might want to take you in a different direction than you anticipate.
For example, you may see yourself as a stand up comedian who happens to do a podcast but what if your audience sees you as a podcaster who happens to do stand up comedy? Does it matter? Maybe, maybe not, as long as you are getting to do all the things that you love.
There’s a film called The Room (read all about it here) that was made by a filmmaker who intended it to be a serious low-budget independent film, but the film turned out so laughably bad that’s it become a huge Rocky Horror Picture Show-like cult hit and way bigger than he ever could have dreamed. Does that make him a success? A failure? Or just somebody who adapted to his career taking a different route than he originally expected?
4. You May Be Scared Of The Rain, But Other People Are Not
The rain’s kept me from walking for the past week, but even as it started coming down I noticed how many other people were outside – running and walking even as the rain fell. Whether I viewed the rain as a dealbreaker to my exercise plans or not, there were clearly other people who didn’t let it stop them from their exercise goals.
I think it’s important to remember that while you may find excuses for why you’re not pursuing certain things, there’s always going to be other people out there that aren’t so easily deterred.
I’m sure you can come up with lots of reasons why you’re not blogging, or making videos, or performing live as much as you want and that’s fine for you. Just know that there’s other people among your peers that aren’t being stopped by those same excuses. And they’re more than happy to attract the audience that you’re not willing to go after yourself.
5. It’s OK To Get A Little Wet Sometimes
As I mentioned before, I wound up walking for over an hour in the rain and returned home more than a little wet. And at the end of the day I felt great about it, because it’s OK (and it’s probably good) for you to get a little wet every once in a while.
When it comes to comedy, not everything you try to do is going to be met with sunshine. A lot of it is going to fail and you’re going to get wet. But that’s ok – it’s not the end of the world and you can’t let the fear of failure prevent you from trying new things.
Make a video series that nobody likes? So what, make another. Tried to put on a live show that nobody came to see? Big deal, it’s happened to everybody. I went for a walk and got a little wet, but I’ll dry off and ultimately it won’t matter that I got wet. And the same’s true for your projects – nobody’s going to remember the ones that fail, they’ll only remember the ones that work.