Very early on in my comedy career I had a couple jokes that killed at open mics. I quickly established myself as one of the “best” of the regulars in the room. So naturally I saw a very clear and quick path to success and stardom. A headliner would waltz into the open mic, see my killer set, and invite me to open for him or her on the road. Within a short time I would eclipse him or her in popularity and the public would insist that I launch my own (inter)national tour. Months after that I’d begin my satellite radio career and be on my way to owning the world by the time I turned 30.
All on the strength of a joke I don’t even use anymore…
Well I’m 30 now – just over five years into my comedy career – and suffice it to say that none of those things have happened. Unless you count Staten Island public access, I haven’t been on television. I’ve definitely gotten love from headliners, but none of them have changed their tour plans for me.
Funny enough, however, I feel closer to being where I want to be now than I did when my head was up my own ass as a truly young comic. A little perspective (aka a little dose of reality) will do that for you.
If you hang around with comics long enough, you’ll learn that none of the successful ones are truly
overnight celebrities. No matter how easy they make it look, there are so many hours of work and sweat and rejection and refinement that went in to making them pop. A note to really talented teenagers: no excuses – put your hours in now! You’ll thank me when they call you a prodigy.
The same is true regardless of your passion. If you want to make something of yourself, you have to spend enough time breaking down the barriers to success and then replacing them with strong habits. If you do a great job, most people will think that it just comes completely naturally and easily to you. Comic irony, anyone?
It might take me another five years to get on television. Maybe more. I might strike gold and have my first moment now. I’m good either way because I have a better understanding of what it takes to be successful and I am willing to put in the work to get there.
Don’t believe the lie of overnight stardom…unless, of course, you want to make a sex tape or are willing to degrade yourself beyond belief on reality television. Even still, you’ll have to promote it properly, and that will take some time.