It’s never easy to grow your fanbase and it can often be overwhelming to figure out how to connect your comedy to an audience that will enjoy it.
But one of the best ways to solve this challenge is to find your own comedy niche.
When I work with comedians I ask them who they think the audience is for their material and too often, the answer I get from is that their audience is just “people who like funny stuff.”
There’s nothing wrong with that answer, but there’s also nothing helpful about it.
“People who like funny stuff” is such a broad target audience that it doesn’t really mean anything – and that makes it much more difficult for you to grow your fanbase.
By comparison, if your answer to that question is something like people who have kids, or people who love sports, or people who are tech geeks, or just about anything else that conveys a specific set of non-comedy interests then everything you do becomes easier and you have a dramatically increased chance of success. That’s because focusing on a specific comedy niche will inform the content you create, the ways you promote it, and how you go about building your career.
In short, it gives you something to build a plan around.
If you don’t have a niche beyond just being funny, you’re making things much harder on yourself than they need to be. Here’s a few things to consider when you’re trying to figure out what your comedy niche could be…
What Are You Passionate About?
Besides comedy and making people laugh, what are you most passionate about in life? The things you’re most passionate about are the things you should incorporate into your comedy niche because that’s what you’re going to naturally be drawn to discussing in your comedy and your content.
Are you passionate about politics? Sports? Classic cars? The military? Music? It really doesn’t matter what it is, just that you identify what you like to do beyond comedy and what you like to talk to people about. Whatever passions you have are likely shared by lots of other people and those are the people that will become your target audience and form the foundation of your fanbase.
Don’t be afraid that your passions are too small to form a niche for your comedy. There’s really no such thing as too obscure a comedy niche – in fact, it’s possible that the more obscure your passion the more successful you’ll wind up being in growing your fan base in that niche. And the reason for that is…
Being One In A Thousand Is Better Than Being One In A Million
This may seem counter-intuitive but it’s actually better to focus on a more narrow niche than it is to focus on a huge niche (which is also why it’s not a good plan to just go after “comedy fans” or “people who like funny stuff” – it’s too broad).
The narrower your comedy niche is, the more likely you are to connect with fans of that niche, the less competition you will have for their attention, and the more likely you are to have a passionate and connected fanbase.
As you think about your passions and consider what your comedy niche may be, also think about how you can drill down even deeper into that niche and you may see some interesting possibilities surface.
For example, there’s lots of comedians out there whose niche has become nerd/fanboy culture including everything from movies to comic books. But what if you were really passionate about Marvel comic books specifically? Could you develop a comedy blog or video series built solely around Marvel-inspired humor? Probably. And you’d know exactly where to find the audience for that content because it would be other Marvel fans. And the chances are, they’d love what you created because you have a shared passion.
Plus, you’re no longer competing with other fanboy comedians, because you’ve now carved out your own niche within that bigger niche. You’ve made yourself unique by focusing on a narrower niche.
What Is Your Expertise?
Another great way to find a niche for yourself is to consider what unique expertise you may have that can inform your comedy. For example, Alex Barnett is a comedian in New York (and a Connected Comedy reader) who used to be a lawyer. He’s now parlayed his legal background into a niche appealing to lawyers which has allowed him to book corporate gigs performing for law organizations and recently was hired to write a recurring column for Lawyerist.com.
If you consider what non-comedy expertise you have – either from past work experience, a hobby, or something in your personal background – you’ll likely find similar opportunities to use that expertise to create some comedy opportunities for yourself.
You Can Have Multiple Niches
You should also understand that you can appeal to multiple comedy niches, so don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to just one. Each niche will bring its own set of opportunities and you should be willing to explore several different possibilities to see what comes from them. As you go, you’ll likely find that certain niches will click for you and those are ultimately going to be the ones you’ll focus on because you’ll go where you’re having the most success.
But initially, don’t be afraid to try to create projects for different niches – as long as you’re focusing on niches where you have a passion and/or expertise for the subject. Don’t try to go after a niche because you think there’s opportunities there if it’s not something you really are genuinely interested in – the fans in that niche will see right through you and it won’t work.
If you’re considering going after a specific niche and want some suggestions about how best to approach it, please leave a comment on this post and tell me what you’re thinking about. I’ll be happy to give you some feedback.