The struggles of a stand-up comedian

The struggles of a stand-up comedian

Being a stand-up comedian was never easy. It is still not easy. It takes a lot of self deprecation to stand-up in front of an audience, which is expecting you to make them laugh.

a3

You stand right there with many eyes looking at you, expecting you to be funny. You go up there trying to be funny. Everybody is judging you, every second of your stage time. They want to see if you have the right confidence, the right material, the right presence and the right delivery, to be able to make an audience laugh.

If the audience likes you, they laugh and you feel on top of the world. Your content falls at the right place at the right time. It works. People connect with you. They laugh at almost everything you say. The intensity of the laughter is high and you love yourself for making so many people happy.

If the audience doesn’t laugh, you feel on the bottom of the world and you want to hide yourself in a rat hole where no one can see you. The tragic happened to you. You went in front of an audience and you said things which you thought were funny, but nobody laughed. They stared at you and felt sorry for you.

What went wrong?

You think about the possible answers to that question, all night.

Was it the content that wasn’t funny?

Was it the delivery that wasn’t interesting?

Was the timing wrong?

Did I take longer pauses?

Did I take shorter pauses?

Should I have been a little slow?

Did I lack confidence?

Did I not connect with the audience?

You don’t know. So, you rework your content. You talk to other comics and seek their advice about what happened. You ask your friends, if you have any left, and they happened to be in the audience getting embarrassed about being your friend-the works.

Those were the matters of the craft. Besides the craft, there are many other challenges a comedian, especially, a new comedian has to face. Stage time is precious and it is not easily available. There are a few open mics run by individual comedians and slots run out within a few minutes of the event being posted. A new comedian has to be online and keep on the lookout for events listings. For people with jobs, it gets extremely difficult to stay in touch with such listings.

The timings of the shows are late and families get affected. If you do stand-up comedy regularly, you will end your days by midnight or post midnight. Your parents reject you, for whatever you are doing. The author of the post is living separately from his parents so that they can sleep while he attends open mics. Parents wonder where they went wrong.

Keeping up with health becomes an issue while you stay up late. You miss your dinner. You gate up late in the morning and miss breakfast many times. You start losing weight pointlessly or gaining weight, pointlessly. Pointlessness rules your schedule and your eating regimen.

There are many other challenges like marketing yourself, getting shows, doing unpaid gigs and keeping at it, while nothing seems to be happening.

Oh, does this all sound depressing? It’s not. It takes work, the ability to drink failure and patience. Comedians do comedy because they love it. They love making people laugh and when they succeed, they feel amazing. They feel great about themselves and people love them for it. Oh, and I have heard, they make money too. I don’t, no.

If you plan to take up stand-up comedy, do it for the love for it. Any other reason and you will quit, soon. It is not easy, but it is worth, every minute of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should you quit your job to pursue your passion? -Yes, and No.

Should you quit your job to pursue your passion? -Yes, and No.

1.jpg

I read a post this morning which said ‘Don’t quit your job to pursue your passion’. The reasons cited in the post, among others were that some bloggers who did that are scrubbing toilets now, it is a privilege for the rich kids etc. etc.

I didn’t find that post interesting or entertaining or useful. It was downright malicious. Now, as someone who did quit his job to pursue his passion (writing and comedy), I owe an explanation to the person who wrote that post and to people who think likewise.

To start with, I will start with the YES part of the answer.

Why should you quit your job to pursue your passion? Why do people do it? Are they fools? Are they fools to leave the comfort and security (assumed) of their jobs to start walking on an unknown terrain which they have not seen before and they will have to walk alone?

No, they are not fools. Most of them are intelligent, smart thinking people. They are forced to leave their jobs, even if these are jobs they like, because in any job, one is not able to give himself or herself wholeheartedly to what one loves to do.

Let’s say, writing. Even if you work as a journalist in your job, you will not be able to write the content that you long to write. You will not be able to edit it the way you want and you will not be able to decide the timeframes.

Let’s say, a graphic designer. Even if you work in an agency as a graphic designer, you will not have the freedom to make the designs that you want to make and have the liberty to push them out. Every job is a role in a company and that role has to adhere to the requirements of that company and that system.

Take anything-a photographer or a painter or a filmmaker or a speaker.

Therefore, from the company’s perspective, there is nothing wrong with it. A company has responsibilities to its customers and its systems, which it will have to adhere to. Companies are not formed to cater to the passions of its employees.

Therefore, people quit their jobs and go out on their own to try and see if they can make it by themselves-as freelancers or as companies of their own.

Do they scrub toilets? Well, it is stupid to say that they scrub toilets or in the other case, if they are scrubbing toilets, they took the decision without any meaningful calculation of how they will go about making a life out of their passion and how would they meet their expenses.

When I quit my job, I did it after saving some money for 2-3 years (which I could have used for a down payment for a house), so that I can have a 2-3 year shot at what I am trying to do, that is even if I make no money in that time. Right after I quit, I started working freelance with research agencies by using the contacts I had and by building new ones. I have been able to make my expenses, while I continue to write books and perform comedy.

Let me elaborate a bit on the NO part of the answer.

You should not quit the job if you have no clue what your passion is. A passion is work that you will do even if you have to pay people to do it. You cannot NOT do it.  

You should not quit the job if you have no savings or you have no visible source of making your expenses. That’s the bare minimum. You should be able to make your expenses, while you work on your passion and try to make money off it.

You should have an idea about what will happen if you fail. I don’t know what that means myself for I my definition, one is a failure when one gives up.

You should not quit the job if you don’t understand what living a passionate life means.

You should not quit your job if you can satisfy yourself with living a mercenary life where money is your only source of satisfaction or happiness. I am sorry for you.

You should not quit your job if you deride people who quit their jobs to pursue their passions.

**

It is not easy to leave the comfort of an air conditioned office to try and stick things out in thin air. That’s what passionate people are trying to do. They are trying to create things, keeping their faith as their best friend.

They are trying to make the world a beautiful and lovable place where they can do their best work and hopefully, inspire other people to do their best work, somewhere on the way.

If it doesn’t work, they will know in their heart that they tried.

Should you quit your job to pursue your passion?

The answer lies somewhere between YES and NO.

Thanks for reading.

Amar