One of the reasons comics struggle in their career is because often they get easily distracted by a variety of things that wind up holding them back. Here’s 10 common distractions I see that too often hold comics back…
1. Other Comics
It doesn’t matter what other comedians are doing or what they’re saying about you and what you do. There’s no limit to the number of people that can have successful comedy careers and while it’s a competitive industry, it’s not an either/or success scenario. The more time you spend worrying about what other comics say and do, the worse off you’ll be for it.
Everybody has things they’re afraid of and that fear can easily prevent you from succeeding. Don’t let your fear of failure get in the way of pursuing your overall goal. It’s incredibly easy to be distracted by your fear and allow it to be a reason that you don’t pursue something you want to pursue. It’s ok to be afraid of something, but it’s not ok to use that fear as a reason not to do it.
No matter what you do, there are going to be people that hate it. And those people are more likely to be vocal about those feelings than the people who like it are to be vocal about their support. That’s why 90% of the comments on the Internet are negative. But ultimately, the haters are meaningless. All that matters is the people that like you – concentrate on them and don’t allow the haters to distract you from what really matters.
You will always have things going on in your life outside of comedy that will compete for your attention. It may be another job, family, friends, or any of a million other things that pop up in your life. We all have limited time and it’s easy to allow those things to distract you from your comedic goals. If having a comedy career is really a priority for you, then you need to figure out how to make time to make it happen – it has to be as important a piece of your life as all those other things.
What’s best for your comedy career isn’t necessarily always what pays you the most money and that’s important to remember. A cruise ship gig may pay better than doing free shows in Los Angeles, but if your ultimate goal is to work in Hollywood then it’s not necessarily the best way to accomplish that. Money is obviously important, but you shouldn’t let it be the only thing that determines the path you take – sometimes you need to ignore it.
6. Short Term Gains
Too many comics are too focused on what’s happening with their career in the short term and not enough are focused on the long term plan. Whether you’re chasing money, exposure, or an ego boost, it’s important to make your decisions based on what your long term career goal is as opposed to getting distracted by seeking short term gains that could actually be preventing you from your achieving long term success.
7. The Odds
You’re probably going to fail. Very few comedians ever succeed. The odds are stacked dramatically against you. You need to understand that, but you don’t need to dwell on it. Don’t let the scope of the war distract you from the battle at hand. Focus on the things you can control and making progress to your goal, as opposed to getting overwhelmed by the odds of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Don’t be jealous of other comics and don’t worry about making other comics jealous of you. It’s too easy to get wrapped up into all of that and it’s ultimately not productive at all.
9. Conventional Wisdom
Just because the “experts” (including myself) say there’s a particular way you’re supposed to frame your act, or use social media, or do your podcast, that doesn’t mean that there is. In fact, most people who succeed do so because they choose to be different and go against the conventional wisdom of the day. Don’t get distracted by how others say you should do things, just do what feels authentic to you and learn from your mistakes.
10. The Rules
There are no actual “rules” so don’t worry about them. Make your own.