Message To Aspiring Comics
Published on March 2nd, 2015 | by Free Standup NYC
Article by: Cory Kahaney, www.corykahaney.com
Hi I’m Cory and I am a comedian… (Hi Cory)
Make no mistake comedy is an addiction and a disease. Joan Rivers told Louis CK on his show ‘It’s a calling’ which I found poetic but let’s be honest, what I do is nothing like Mother Theresa and the lepers. When I haven’t been on stage, I feel itchy, irritable and on edge. When someone compliments me and says I killed, I am not grateful. On the contrary, I am annoyed because I know how hard I can kill and whatever they just witnessed pales in comparison. They were merely a reminder of the kill that eludes me, the one I am still chasing. When I have a new joke in my pocket I cannot wait to smoke it. Watch me sometimes, I’m rocking back and forth on the edge of a chair or a bare stool till it’s my turn to light that mother up! Does that sound altruistic to you?
Every time I speak to an aspiring comic they ask me the same thing: how do I get to the next level? And they hate the answer. Hate! I remember I felt the same way when I asked that question over and over but guess what? When I finally listened, I got to the next level.
By the way when you get to the next level it’s greeeaaat, it’s ah-mazing -- for like a week, maybe two. Then it’s on to the next level and the next until your life is a virtual video game but not really because at least in a video game they count the points and if you beat the game, you win. In standup there’s no order, no score keeper, no human resources. Some get really good, pay their dues and still have to eat in the cafeteria, while others without merit get a corner office and never have to fly coach again.
Oh, I forgot to give you the answer, not that you’ll listen but, whatever. Alright, here goes, here is the secret to getting ahead as a comic: GET AS MUCH STAGE TIME AS YOU CAN. You hate that answer don’t you? Because it’s as insipid as a Geico commercial, everybody knows that. Okay, how many times did you get up last week? Be honest. Was there a wedding, a holiday, a thing at work? I know I said there is no rhyme or reason to this business but stage time is the one exception. Like a pilot needs so many hours to get a license to fly, a comic needs massive amounts of stage time to bomb, to destroy, to get bored, to reinvent, to refine and God willing, get seen. Now the exact amount is different for everyone but sufficed to say if you are asking this question, you’re not getting on stage enough. For me it started with 6 sets a week until there was some movement and don’t roll your eyes at that number, I was a divorced single mom with no child support and a day job when I pulled that off. Then, when things got complacent, I ratcheted it up to 11 sets a week and that’s when I was able to quit the day job.
Keep in mind you don’t have to do this. In fact, if there’s anything else that fulfills you then you should do that instead. Many professions are far nobler. I’m told some jobs come with pensions and profit sharing, whatever that means. My point is stand up is not something you do because you want to, it’s something you do because you can’t not do it.
But you know, as addictions go, this one isn’t the worst. The audience does seem to enjoy themselves while we get high on stage. I’ve seen very socially challenged people actually get laid. With therapy, a patient spouse, a few comics who get me, I can manage my disease. And as long as I remain vigilant and keep feeding the beast by taking the stage, I might even thrive.
I’m Cory Kahaney, and I am a comic.