A potential new project came up today and it could be exciting to work on. It’s still very preliminary so I will refrain from talking about it for now until I’ve cleared things with the client, but I wrote a new piece today as a sample for them. Since it is a sample, I think it’s okay to share it with you guys for your enjoyment.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way. Stand-up comedy is a financial nightmare and a laughable (no pun intended) career choice, at least in the traditional 9-to-5 sense. It is also a purely skill-based industry with a notorious return on investment. Confused? That last bit means that you could be good and they still won’t laugh. Indian parents especially would have seizures should their kids mention comedy as a career choice (oh Ganesha forbid!). Then why would anyone choose stand-up as a career choice?
The answer is simply this: you do it if you NEED to. Artists of all types – writers, comedians, painters, potters etc. feel what is known as a “calling” – an internal voice that pushes them to exhibit and show their talents for the world to see and appreciate. It represents an urge to look beyond the entrapments of money and society for a higher cause.
Some of you might be thinking – It sounds all fancy on paper, but it’s not possible for “so-and-so” reason. Here, what I am trying to do is show you the positives of pursuing a career in stand-up while trying to maintain a realistic picture.
Famous stand-up artists such as Chris Rock, Russell Peters, Louis C.K. and Jim Carrey have all either said on record or demonstrated that they did stand-up for many years making almost no money at all, and then suddenly they were able to break a barrier and started making crazy amounts of money. While stand-up is a notoriously difficult career to be financially stable in, should you be able to succeed, you will not need to do anything else for the rest of your life, literally. You could potentially make millions of dollars (or you know, rupees) from shows and DVD sales (piracy hurts though).
Depending on your success, you may even get to perform in famous arenas, like the O2 in London, with thousands of people attending just to hear you talk. You can’t get that kind of ego boost in any other job, kids.
Also, we are lucky to live in a day and age where it is easier than ever to get your name out there. With the internet and services such as YouTube, Vine and Twitter, people with a comic heart can rapidly gain a rabid fan following, as demonstrated by “YouTubers” such as PewDiePie (gaming channel, 25 million subscribers), Smosh (comic sketch channel, 17 million subscribers), and Vine user Will Sasso (1.7 million followers), who is also an actor and former MADtv comedian. Many YouTubers have gone on record to say how they engage in video making because it is what they’ve always wanted to do, and it’s cool to be on YouTube because it started as such a small thing for introverted people that eventually became an internet giant that Hollywood and mainstream film and television industries are looking to exploit. As such, comedians such as Gabriel Iglesias have a full time YouTube account that they regularly upload to, and via which they promote themselves. It also becomes an easy way to promote merchandise, of yourself or of sponsors, which is a great way to both stabilise finances and to create indirect advertising.
In conclusion, being a stand-up comedian is a hard business. You need to be genuinely funny, must believe in yourself constantly and be ready to suffer hard times regularly. However you will be responsible for your own success, and should you be successful, you will become financially stable very quickly in a job where self-satisfaction will be at an unparalleled high. I mean come on! You’ll be making people laugh for a living. That’s not a bad deal at all.
Thank you for reading. If you liked it, please leave a like and a comment below. If you loved it, I’d love it if you share it with your friends. Let me know if you’re interested in this kind of article, and I’ll write about other careers in a similar manner. Better yet, leave a comment telling me which off-beat or regular career you’d like me to write about, and I’ll get it to you in 24 hours (I can almost guarantee it. This was very easy for me to write. I took under an hour for this one).