It’s unsolicited comedy advice time! As near as I can tell, everyone on earth is either a comedian or a DJ, and some of those people have gotta need advice. These are theories, or ideas really, that have brought me some comfort in a difficult world.
1. Festival Bookers aren’t funnier than you are
They don’t have to be. They’ve organized a festival. They are, for the most part, lazy, burrito-eating pieces of shit, living on their friend’s couches. That’s how I imagine them, anyway. They aren’t better than you are, they just run a festival in Pig’s Snout, Arkansas.
Except for the festival bookers who have booked me before. They are connoisseurs and the true arbiters of taste.
2. Squeaky Wheels Suck at Comedy
You’ll run into people in this world who are aggressive about booking. Aggressive aggressive aggressive. That’s how they have found success.
You do have to ask for bookings, don’t get me wrong, but there’s people whose whole life is bugging other people. That’s how they survive and pretend they have a career.
3. Show Bookers Are Not Funnier Than You
I’ve done it a thousand times, I do a show with someone who books a comedy show and I absolutely wipe the floor with them and then think, how dare they not book me?
They don’t have to. They got it together to run a show. They’ll book the people they like, or the people they want to ingratiate themselves to. It’s not *really* a meritocracy. Sorry!
4. Some People Are Just Never Gonna Book You
This is the best unsolicited advice. There are some people, some shows, some festivals even, that just won’t like you. Once you’ve politely reached out a half dozen times, you don’t have to keep torturing yourself. Put your energy, your support, your time into shows that like you.
5. Comedy Doesn’t Have To Pay Your Bills
There’s people who will tell you that if you don’t make a living from comedy, you’re not a real comedian. Here’s the thing. Loving comedy and being funny, truly loving the artform, doesn’t mean that you’ll make much money at it.
Your art doesn’t owe you a living. You can be a genius and never make a dime. You can be a hack and make a good living. As far as I can tell, being funny and making money at comedy are only tangentially related.
The fact is that not depending on comedy to pay your rent frees you. You don’t have to take gigs you don’t enjoy, and you don’t have to do things you don’t want to do.
6. “I run a comedy show. How can I tell if I’m funny?”
Do you ever do any shows that aren’t yours? Once your comedy show ends, do you keep getting booked? No? Congratulations, you’re a producer, baybee!
7. Remember that success is not a straight line
One day, you’re jealous as shit because your friend got a speaking role in a Disney show. The next minute, you’re helping them pack their bags to move home. One day, you’re playing a huge theatre supporting another friend. The next, you’re bumped on an open mic in the fucking Valley. You’ll have big and little successes, and big and little failures. That doesn’t mean you’re not making progress. If you love it, keep going. If you don’t, find a better way to spend your time.