Canadian comedians don't know how to scale.
It's ingrained in the system created by monopolies with their own interests at heart.
Here's some 'How to Scale' metrics for every part of the comedy journey:
- Build your act in 5 minute increments and test at live shows. Write everything down, record the sets, and get the material right. Assess feedback and apply changes that lead to producing the best material.
- Sell your act by promoting your material through media platforms, a personal website, a promotional kit, club work, independent productions and word of mouth.
- Build your brand by positively assessing what's working and what isn't. Lean into what works and do more of that, but better. Leverage your network and resources as you continue to sell your act. You can't go from $100 a gig to a $1000 a gig without a brand the audience understands.
- Once your brand is established scale through partnerships and collaborations. Cross-pollinate your audiences and share your knowledge. Keep a positive-sum mentality because if what you're building is good for standup comedy as a whole then other comedians will give a shit and not only want to be involved but pay-it-forward just the same as they scale their own brands.
- Get ready to become a business. Most comedians consider themselves independent freelancers or contractors where in reality they're more a B2B (business to business). They're approaching businesses to collaborate on a product (a standup show) and share revenue. A well-built brand naturally builds leverage. Don't shy away from this business side of "show business". Instead, understand it and use it to your advantage.
- Find ways to diversify. Depending how big you plan to grow will depend on how you diversify your offerings. Traditionally comedians diversified through albums, books, acting gigs and merchandise. Media platforms and nocode digital tools have opened the flood gates for product diversification. Even creating free products like a digital template, a course or a skill-based series is a good place to start. Sales magnets help you build your email list. You don't own your social media following but you own your email list. Those are people who consented to your marketing and are interested in what you have to offer.
Now let's quickly get into the mental game. The above is just the brass tacks on how to get it done. Easy to write in a blog post. Harder to put to action.
So there's a few things needed here:
- Perspective. This is not a zero sum game. Life is. You're going to die. But comedy isn't. There's room for everyone. Don't fuck over other comedians. Don't put others down. Acknowledge that this entire endeavour is a learning journey completely unique to each individual comedian. Understand that everyone's trying to figure it out. Assume positive intent and focus on yourself: Your act and your health matter more than any fleeting opinion or feeling you might have about another comedian.
- Patience. We overestimate what we can do in a year and underestimate what we can do in 10. Play the long game. The milestones come quick at first but then the plateaus get further and further apart. Do it because you love it and commit to growing and learning. Keep it that simple.
- Priorities. Get your priorities in order. Do you care about being a good comedian but don't write? Don't promote? Don't respect the show when you're there? Then I have one question: Do you want to be a comedian? If this is the career you want then you need to prioritize your act and your health. If you need to work a day job to keep the lights on, do it. If you need to take a break for some much needed therapy, do it. It's really hard to grow when you're mentally unwell and in the grips of financial ruin. Set yourself up for success by understanding what you need to prioritize.
I write all this because times are changing. Comedians have more control over their careers and gatekeepers are quickly becoming museum exhibits. Gravitate towards the comedians and creators who resonate with your values and build with them.
Are there entities in the comedy world that oppose these values? Yes. And you don't have to work with them if you don't want to. You can build for yourself and partner well with others. That is a readily available choice. Everyone's context and goals differ through and there's a place for everyone. Even entities that oppose my business values. It's more my hope that those entities will grow towards a more positive-sum mentality the more they learn how to do so.
Your career is 100% yours and every comedian worth their salt knows that and takes control. I want that for you. I plan to work with a lot of comedians by the time I'm done here on Earth and want to do everything I can to bring that vision to life.
Use this post as a loose guide but reach out anytime if you want share ideas, collaborate on projects or have a mentor session where we focus on your career's next steps. We're building towards something truly awesome at The Other Comedy Company and it's my hope that comedians will want to join me on this insane adventure I embarked on 8 months ago.