I Need You To Be Better At Comedy

That being said, you need me to be better too. I need all the comedy shows to be better, but so do we all. I’m not asking anything of you that I don’t ask of myself. Don’t think I’m trying to be divisive; I’m actually trying to bring us all together. Here is why.

The biggest limit we place on ourselves as artists is fear. We are afraid that there is not enough work, we are afraid that we will never get the opportunity we think we deserve and we are afraid that the success of others is taking the chances that we feel entitled to. I have been guilty of all of these feelings and I have let them affect me to my own detriment. I’m trying to get over it, and the best way to get over these feelings is to let them go.

Comedy often feels like an individual activity. It may seem like a competition. We all want the same hosting/featuring/headliner spots. We all want to open for our favorite comic or get on “that” showcase. We tend to think that comedy and the entertainment industry is not the meritocracy we believe it should be, but we might all be wrong. Let me focus on the negative first.

  1. If you suck the audience will not enjoy the show. If you are bad enough, the audience will not want to see another comedy show. They may leave before I even get a chance to perform. They may never come to another comedy show ever.
  2. The same is true if I bomb and you kill it.
  3. If there is no audience it doesn’t matter how good either of us is.

A year ago, when I was much more intent on going it alone, I subscribed to a different philosophy. I used to believe that following someone who was terrible gave me the opportunity to look better by contrast. I’m still going to take that approach when it happens, but now a days I would much rather follow someone who does well. I’d far rather be a great comic on a great show, and you should too.

This may feel like a lot of back patting fluff right? Aren’t there still limited opportunities for those who rise to the top? Maybe right now, but that is a very short-sighted way to look at things, and comedy is not a game to be won in a single night or year for that matter.

Here is the positive effect of us all being better:

  1. Everyone does well > The show goes well > The audience feels like they get their monies worth > Some of them will come out to more shows.
  2. The more people coming to shows makes it possible for there to be more shows.
  3. More audience at shows produces more demand, and we are the supply. Now there is more work for all of us.

It is a sad fact that comedy attracts a lot of egos and some people will never be on board with this team philosophy. I wasn’t, and I may not be in the future, but I am now. We as entertainers are all on the same team. No one needs comedy. The world will keep spinning and society will keep functioning without weekly comedy shows. It is on all of us to continually justify our industry, the very industry that fuels our passions and livelihoods. There is room for all of us. If not tonight, there will be in the future, as long as we all keep getting better and moving forward.

That is all.


About Jamie Ward
I am a comedian. At this point in my life I live comedy. I'm not all that funny, but it's all I think about every waking moment.

3 Responses to I Need You To Be Better At Comedy

  1. phillip branch sr. says:

    You are absolutely correct. And a damn good writer!

  2. Roz McCoy says:

    This article needs to be mandatory reading for all comics, new and old.

  3. Agreed. The audience remembers if the SHOW was good or if the SHOW was bad. They may not remember the individual performers but they will remember how they felt about the night as a whole even if a few comics bomb. Don’t worry about where you are in the line up. Do what you can to make that show great so those people will continue to come back.

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