So you’ve been grinding away at the Mics. Your material is starting to make sense and it’s forming into an actual set. Where do you go from there? There are Bar Gigs, Showcases and Charity Shows galore to put your stamp on. But there’s a point where you start to wonder where you’re going with all of this. If this is a hobby for you, which is fine, maybe you’ll be content with just Open Mics and Bar Shows. But what if you get that bug? What if it begins flowing through your blood like a parasite hopped up on kerosene and ready to burn, baby, burn? Well good news: there’s a whole damn World out there and it’s waiting for you to bring all that you have to make it laugh.
You’ve said all this time, “I’ll be happy just getting regular gigs and having fun.” But now you want it all. The road trips, the adventure, the good gigs, the bad gigs and the great ones. You want more and more people to see you. You want that frigging spot on Conan! Well as the Prince of Pain, Richard Lewis, once said, “You just better want to be that, because there are no guarantees. Just know your craft.” He has been through the hell it might take to make it so he knows what he’s talking about. It sounds easy, sure. But it’s ruthless. Is it worth it? I’ll tell you when I get there. But it just has to be.
There’s nothing better than getting on that road for a gig. You and your friends load up into an automobile, gas up, snack away, share stories, laugh your asses of and aim straight for that destination of yours. You get there and you’re ready to go up on Stage and they’re ready to laugh and the storm’s brewing. Embrace it.
All gig’s are different. Maybe you’re staying at a dumpy hotel because it’s all you can afford. But maybe the gig is taking care of you. There are some where they actually put you in a pretty nice room, buy you meals and then pay you. It’s like heaven. All you have to do is what you were put on this Earth to do: make people laugh. All that hard work pays off and it takes you quite far.
The road isn’t always easy though. People aren’t always friendly and looking to hear Comedy. It’s really like any normal Comedy setting. There are hecklers, drunks and easily offended people. Are you expected to work clean? Can you? It makes a big difference in how much work you’ll get, all opinions aside. Maybe you can go blue. Go for it. It’s on this road, in the truest of Comedy gigs, that you decide if it’s the life for you or not. There’s no shame in trying. it’s what you do next that matters.
So you’ve done these “big time gigs,” no matter the size, but you can’t just rest. I mean, sure enjoy some drinks, food and time with friends and Audience members after. But the next night when there is no gig and there’s an Open Mic in reach, go. There are no breaks. If this is what you’re going to do, it’s just another damn shift. This is when you have to work the hardest. Family’s coming to town? Hope they like Comedy. Buy them tickets. can’t make it in time for an Open Mic because your job is your priority? That’s fine. But remember, for a lot of Comics, the Comedy is their priority. They’ll always have the time to hit Mics with no excuses. No judgement either way. No slip ups. Work.
Don’t let it go to your head. Stay on the same level of thought and care with the people you’ve come to know at the Mics. You might go on to bigger and better things, they might be stuck in the Mic limbo, but it doesn’t mean they might not get there one day. The work shows. Those who may not work as hard will show it. The Stage is where you get to prove yourself. No matter what. Surround yourself with good people who work just as hard and have the same ambition. A Comedy Family is better than an assortment of cliques. I don’t know about you, but I left High School behind a long time ago.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: treat the Staff right! Think of yourself as a Comedy Ambassador. When you go into a new Club, bar or what have you in a new town, respect the Staff. I can’t stress this enough.
“But Robbie,” you might say, “you’re just so preachy.” Well I’m passionate, dammit. I’ve learned a lot and I still have miles to go. This will probably be the last one of these that I do. I don’t know if any of it helps you. Maybe I’m trying to tell all of this to myself. If it does help, just remember to try your best and see how far you can go. Test yourself. It never gets any easier. Even at the top, you have to work hard to stay there. It’s an Adventure. Your future in Comedy is Who, Why, Where and When. Laugh, dammit, laugh.