5 Ways to Get Your Start as a Comedian
While Forbes reports that some of the world’s biggest comedians are making millions, with “Seinfeld” creator Jerry Seinfeld earning $57.5 million in 2018 alone, the reality is, it takes a lot of hard work, talent and perseverance to get even close to those ranks. But if you’re willing to do what it takes, you may at least be able to at least earn a living doing something you love – making people laugh. And who knows, someday you might even be able to surprise the “King of Comedy.”
Assuming you’ve got some good, original material – enough for at least a 30- to 60-minute standup show, these are some of the best ways to get your start as a paid comedian.
Head to Local Comedy Clubs for Open-Mic Nights
The majority of comedians get their start by taking part in open-mic comedy nights at local clubs and other similar venues, and you should do the same. If you wow the audiences consistently, you’ll probably be given more stage time. And, if it becomes obvious that you have enough solid material to host or open a show, usually around 15 minutes, you may be asked by the owner or manager to fill an opening act spot. It might be just one show, or it could be a series of shows.
Remember, the more opportunities you take to perform, the more you’ll learn – there’s no substitute for stage time, so get as much in as you can.
Download and Create a Profile on Special Guest App
There’s no better app you can download to help you get started than the Special Guest App, an entertainment booking app co-founded by Damon Wayans, Jr and entrepreneur Kris Jones. Talented people, including comedians, can get paid for what they love to do without having to pay a big percentage to an agent or manager. You set the fee and get 100% of cost the person booking pays. It’s a great way to get more experience performing while earning at the same time, like Heidi Heaslet who’s become a regular on the Los Angeles comedy scene.
Make Sure You have an Act That’s Suitable for Audiences Outside the Comedy Club Market
If you only have an act aimed for adults, then you’ll be relegated to adult comedy clubs and other adult-only venues. If you can deliver a good, clean act, the opportunities for potential gigs open up significantly. Think everything from weddings and dinner shows to cruise ships and corporate events. Don’t be too choosey, after all, the point is to get paid, and get more experience too.
Promoting yourself takes a lot of time and effort but it’s usually a must in the comedy world. Be sure to contact national and regional comedy talent agencies that handle a variety of comedy acts – if you have material for both adult and general audiences, there’s a long list of possibilities.
An Electronic Press Kit
Credibility will greatly improve your odds of success, which means having an electronic press kit, or an EPK as they’re commonly called, complete with your bio, comedy resume, your best performance videos, etc. Your Facebook page isn’t going to cut it. Ideally, your EPK should be tailored for each individual booking agent, showing a genuine interest in working for that particular booker.