Before someone invests time and effort learning how to become a comedian…
One of the questions that many prospective comedians have is:
What are my chances of becoming a comedian?
That question is very broad and doesn’t have a single answer because there are a number of variables that affect an individual’s chances of becoming a comedian who is noteworthy and who can be afforded opportunities to become a professional comedian.
Keep this in mind as you review the information provided in this article:
1. Every new comedian starts in basically the same situation in that they do not yet have a tight, well developed stand-up comedy act.
2. Every comedian – whether they are new or not – has complete control of the process that they use to develop their stand-up comedy act and the stand-up comedy material they choose to deliver to generate laughs.
3. A comedian’s value as an entertainer is directly affected by the consistency at which they can “kill” an audience when they perform.
In other words, the comedians who are able to generate long and frequent audience laughs show after show are afforded the most opportunities to progress in stand-up comedy regardless of whether they are new or experienced.
With that said, let’s start with some additional basic information and then I will expand upon that information in a way that can help to identify an individual’s chances of becoming a successful comedian (because anyone can be an awful comedian — just go to any comedy club open mic night to see exactly what I am talking about).
Now, the bad news…
If an individual does not have actual comedy talent, their chances of becoming a comedian are almost non-existent.
Contrary to popular belief, an individual cannot “write” their way to magically having comedy talent or a personality that is better suited for stand-up comedy. Anyone that will tell you so is a scam artist, probably looking to separate you from your hard earned money. FYI.
Note: “Writing” and talking are two very different methods of communication. Unfortunately most comedians attempt to use one means of communication (writing) in order to develop a stand-up comedy act that is a completely different communication method altogether (talking).
You can learn how to be a comedian and how to develop the skill and ability to develop and deliver a high level stand-up comedy act provided you have the actual comedy talent needed to begin with.
So, for those folks who don’t actually have comedy talent, the chances of becoming a noteworthy comedian are pretty much zero.
Now for the good news…
Fortunately, most of the people who consider trying to be a comedian have all the comedy talent they will ever need to be successful as a comedian, given the right conditions (drive, knowledge, developed skill, persistence, etc.).
Now for the folks who have comedy talent, there are several very important factors that directly impact an individual’s chances of becoming a comedian (which can be pretty darn good) and the level of success they can achieve:
1. The ability to generate a minimum average of 18 seconds of laughter per performing minute, which is headliner level stand-up comedy.
Again, contrary to popular belief, an individual simply cannot suck on stage and make any significant progress as a comedy entertainer for live audiences.
There have been a few (and I mean very few) individuals over the years who were simply not good at stand-up comedy, but were able to land parts in TV shows and movies.
Even then, that was due to having some personality trait, look, demeanor, attitude, etc. that matched what a casting professional was looking for in a film or TV role.
But I should point out that the best way to get the attention of casting professionals is to slaughter the audience with laughter on a consistent basis. Only a relative handful of individuals can do that consistently.
Note: You do NOT have to hold the “title” of headliner in order to develop and deliver headliner level stand-up comedy material.
2. The sense of humor range a comedian has. Individuals who can only develop and deliver “adult” humor — an act that is focused primarily on the genital area, sex, bowel movements, etc. are automatically confined to the comedy club market and are excluded from higher level markets that pay handsomely for comedy talent.
Not only that, but comedians who can only develop and deliver “adult” stand-up comedy material end up competing with the vast majority of other comedy club comedians who already do that sort of stand-up comedy material and are already established, making it very difficult to stand out unless they can generate substantial laughter each performing minute on stage.
But let me say this:
No matter what type of stand-up comedy material a comedian chooses to develop and deliver or the markets they are able to work in…
The opportunities in any comedy market are magnified significantly for ANY comedian who can generate big laughs on the stand-up comedy stage consistently — specifically, I’m talking about demonstrating the ability to generate a minimum average of 18 seconds of laughter for each performing minute.
Again, I should point out that a person DOES NOT have to hold the “title” of headliner in order to develop and deliver headliner level stand-up comedy material — provided they have comedy talent and know what they are doing when it comes to developing and delivering big laugh stand-up comedy material.
And there are so many “comedians” who are awful at stand-up comedy, it’s pretty darn easy to stand-up head and shoulders above the competition — given the right information and guidance on how to develop a powerful stand-up comedy routine.
Comedians also have this going for them:
Unlike talented singers whose progression as a entertainer tends to have a significant tie to how they look (what I call the “attractiveness factor”), no such requirement exists for comedians.
In other words, it doesn’t matter how a comedian looks, how tall or short they are or how fat or skinny they may be. All a comedian needs to be able to do is generate long and frequent laughs when they hit the stage.
I hope that answers the question:
“What are my chances of becoming a comedian?”
They can be very good to very poor depending upon one’s ability to generate big laughs on the stand-up comedy stage.
And as I mentioned earlier, an individual can learn how to be a comedian in a short period of time provided they are armed with the right knowledge.
They just can’t learn to have comedy talent they don’t already have.
It is good to know that there are a lot of different places where you can use your comedy talent. It seems like it might be smart to consider doing writing as well. That could be a good way to use your humor.
There’s a difference between performing comedy material geared for adults and doing “adults only” comedy, which tends to be profanity laced and lacks class or taste (not that there has to be – there’s a comedy audience for just about any type of comedy).
I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that you may be having difficulty generating clean material because:
1. You are trying to “write” material in the literal sense, most of which doesn’t tend to work well. This is a factor that drives comedians to genital humor, which can usually generate some nervous laughs if nothing else.
2. You don’t trust your sense of humor totally, meaning that you haven’t established a reference for clean material that works, but you may have established a reference for material that is not so clean that works to some degree.
3. You may be influenced consciously or subconsciously by the type of stand-up comedy material that you see other comedians doing (which is mostly blue), coming to the conclusion that clean comedy won’t work for you, leading to a block when it comes to developing clean comedy material.
Again, I can’t say for sure. All I know for sure is that the comedy mechanics getting laughs are the same regardless of the type of material you deliver. It should be no more difficult to develop clean comedy material that works at a high level than it is to develop blue comedy material, provided you have confidence in the process that you use to develop comedy material in the first place.