I manage my comedy career like a business, setting clearly defined goals, broken down by milestones deadlined accordingly.
I recently read an article about companies in Silicon Valley changing their direction, or pivoting, when things weren’t working out or when new opportunities arose. Instagram, which was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars, is one such company that pivoted and went in a different direction which obviously worked out for them.
Over the past few months, my goals have changed drastically. When I started in October, I wanted to land a 20-minute headline set at Yuk Yuk’s (Toronto’s major comedy club) by December. Yeah…that didn’t happen. But I didn’t know any better. I didn’t realize that it took as much as ten years for people to land a headliner spot.
In February, my goals were to:
- Stand-up: Play all major clubs in Toronto.
- Stand-up: Develop a killer five, seven, then ten minute set
- Social Media: 100k blog followers, 3k subscribers, and 10k twitter followers
- Social Media: Get featured on all major Toronto publications
So none of that really happened. But that’s ok! Time to pivot…
New Goal: Become A Natural Born Killer
‘It feels like I’m bussing a nut, when I open ya up?’ Damn those are some hard lyrics…(1:30)
One of my old bosses from my IT days said that it was very difficult to focus on more than three goals, and he was right. I also realized that my social media goal of having a lot of subscribers wasn’t exactly what I wanted. In addition, I realized that developing a killer five, seven, and ten minute set wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do.
My new goal is to become a killer comedian. By that I mean I want to develop an act where I get 3 or more applause breaks eight out of the ten times I go on stage. My intermediate goal is to do well (have people laugh throughout my set) eight out of ten times.
My soft goal (no definitive milestones/timelines/etc.) is to be myself on stage. Quinn C. Martin, my mentor in comedy and amazing friend, always tells me that I’m hilarious on the phone, and that I need to bring that on stage.
I’m slowly learning how to write for myself, and by that I mean I’m not writing jokes requiring me to change my emotions on a dime just to suit the joke. Before, I had material that would get laughs but would disrupt the flow of my set because it required me to fake emotions. It was clear that I was doing material rather than speaking my mind, even if the material reflected my opinion.
Implications Of Goal Change
Because my focus is now to be myself (i.e. rant, get upset, loud, etc.), the biggest thing that I need to do is get on stage as much as possible. One thing that I’ve been doing in the past quarter is going on stage 3-4 times per week, which isn’t a lot given that other amateur stand-up’s are doing 7-10 sets a week (i.e. doing two a night). But I don’t like leaving shows after I’ve performed…I feel like I’m disrespecting the other comedians when I do that. If they’ve listened to me, I should listen to them, shouldn’t I?
The other implication is that I might be doing material that I think is funny, rather than material that follows the typical premise-punchline-tag-surprise tag formula. But I’m ok with that. I’d rather learn how to be myself, and find out how to make people laugh that way, than craft an act that requires me to be someone else.
Oh, and I also have a goal to have 100k in my bank account by the end of the year. Russell Peters made 500k in a week, so I can’t be asking for that much, right? 😉 Long story short, I’m not going to be a broke comedian. Nobody said you had to die a pauper in order to pursue your passion.
Pillars Of My Life – Mental and Physical Well-Being
My number one priority is my own physical and mental well-being, which are two things that I’ve sacrificed in my past careers. In fact, I feel that my physical and mental well-being are like pillars that support my comedy. The better I look and feel, the more confidence I’ll have. The more confidence I have, the easier it will be to just be myself. Not getting rejected by women is a tertiary benefit that I’ll welcome with open arms, as well.
Over the past month and a half, I’ve fully dedicated myself to my workout regime. I’ve taken up hot yoga in addition to my P90x work, and the benefits are amazing. I’m able to think clearly, and often find myself coming up with material on the way home. It’s like my subconscious is working while I’m at play.
My meditation practice is also going strong, and I recently started listening to Buddhist chants which have been helping as well. This is also a CRUCIAL part of my progression as a comedian, because one of the goals of meditation is to quiet the ego. I’m convinced that my ego has lead me to feel the need to add unnecessary elements to my stage presence (i.e. over embellishing punchlines, feel uncomfortable, etc.). Tat tvam asi, naw mean, son?
Over the past quarter, I’ve:
- Done another set at the Hard Rock Cafe (did OK…)
- Worked on a TV show for ATN
- Hosted The Guest Spot, a show on Serius XM Radio
- Pitched BiteTV (ideas in progress with them)
- Lost 18 lbs
Moving forward, my life is simple:
- Eat well. (Physical Well-Being)
- Work out. (Physical Well-Being)
- Meditate/Yoga (Physical and Mental Well-Being)
- Make as little money as required via IT so that work doesn’t disrupt my comedy but enough for gas, first dates, and chicken wings.
- Meditate (Mental Well-Being)
- Get on stage. (Comedy)
I love my life. I’m doing what I love, surrounding myself with good people, and taking care of myself. At a funeral, the Greeks would simply ask, ‘Did he have passion?’
Do I? I do now.
Now for the biggest, baddest, bombaclat sound ever…Rodigan! People fi dead! This goes to show that anyone that follows their passion can succeed…