How to Succeed at Comedy


As the world’s most successful living comedian, I feel that it’s my duty to share my knowledge with the world. While I’ve already gone over the seven rules of stand-up comedy, these are only tools to make you better at the craft instead of making money, a colossal error on my part. After all, who cares how good they are at something? I know I don’t. All any decent artist really needs to be successful is to get a little more recognition than they actually deserve. If people like you for just the amount of talent you have, you’re playing the game wrong. They should be expecting more out of you than you’re possibly able to give them. Constantly trying to live up to the person that you’ve manufactured both off-stage and on opposed to what you’re actually capable of is what drives any decent comedian first to success (if they’re very, very lucky) and eventually to suicide/parenthood. It’s a decadent, self-destructive lifestyle but as any true artist would attest, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Except perhaps a much easier way.

You wanted to live outside the box, did you think it was going to be easy? People live inside that box for a reason, you know. Safety, comfort, the sure thing. You could have gone to school and gotten a degree and a nice job like everybody else, but you didn’t, did you? You thought you were special. You knew the risk, you knew what you were getting yourself into but you thought you were just so damn talented that success would find you. Fame would come busting your door down just begging for a piece of you, but that’s not the way it happens. That’s never the way it happens. The rest of the world isn’t waiting for the next big thing to come along, they’re all clawing and fighting to be that thing and you thought they’d catch a look at you and all come running? You did. I know you did. We all did. We’ve all wasted a lot of time thinking it, too.

The thing about artists is that the good ones aren’t salesmen and the salesmen aren’t good. It’s two different worlds, business and art. It’s rare that you’ll find a person with a head for both and if they do they usually lie somewhere in the middle. Not the greatest comedian you’ve ever seen but not bad and also not someone that has a panic attack whenever someone meets their eyes. That’s the sweet spot. That’s where you want to be. Nobody needs an artist to be great, they just need them to be decent. Familiar, maybe, but not great. Truly great art just makes us feel less than. Something mediocre and run of the mill will take you a lot further than some bit of greatness that you spent years and years perfecting. No one wants to see that. They want to see something that makes them say, “Huh, that’s pretty good but I could probably do better.”

I’d also suggest not having sex. Not ever, with anyone. Especially if it’s with someone that has anything to do with comedy. Having sex with someone else in this line of work is generally seen as either creepy, trying to get ahead or in some cases just plain icky. You’re also going to have to see the people you slept with over and over again, which can be awkward, and comedians gossip like nobody’s business, so if you have some weird sex thing involving a Pringles can, a ballpoint pen and a whole lot of homemade scarves, that’s going to get out there. Believe me. Then before you know it your career as a comedian is officially over, at least until the next week when everyone gets bored with it and starts talking about that fucked up shit Steve keeps doing to that mannequin at Macy’s. At this point he’s been in there so much they just want him to take the damn thing home and do what he wants with it but he says that ruins the fun.

These are all thing you shouldn’t do when it comes to being successful at comedy and while they’re helpful to know, I think it’s time we get to the real meat and potatoes of this thing and start answering the question: How do we succeed at comedy? The answer is actually very simple; the same way you succeed at anything else.

Comedy is no different than any other job whether it’s Taco Bell, Chipotle or a different Chipotle location; suck up, lie, cheat and steal. It’s human nature to like people that also like us. If you have a boss that doesn’t think you like them, good luck keeping that job, pal. Same thing goes for comedy. I know what you’re thinking, “What about all my hero comedians who rose up against authority and still found success?” First I would like to point out that all of those people are dead, and second they could get away with it because they were already famous. You are not famous. You know how I know you’re not famous? You’re reading this. You big lame-o. A famous person doesn’t bother reading things that a non-famous person wrote. It’s beneath them. They read things that people even more famous than they wrote, like Hemingway or Billy Shakes. Who were both terrible artists, at least when it came to skill. When it came to getting themselves out there, however, they were geniuses. They didn’t have to be good, they were businessmen that really knew how to get their names out there. You never saw them trying to get any better at what they did yet they’re still to this day considered to be two of the best at it.

So if you want to succeed at comedy, stop trying to be so fucking funny.