Monday, October 31, 2011
Intention: The Key to Comedy Success
Every stand-up comic wants a chance to perform on Leno or Letterman, just like every writer wants to be number one on the New York Times Bestseller List. The key to being successful as a comic is to decide very early on what you really want from your comedy career.
In the beginning, I wanted to cover myself in caramel and jump all over Jay Leno. This had nothing to do with being successful. In the beginning, I just wanted to be famous. Now, not so much. These days, I want to book 100 performances or speeches at churches, colleges, conferences, and nursing homes. I want to use my voice to uplift people.
Since moving to Oklahoma, I’ve had a chance to do comedy in a variety of places. I’ve won the semi-final round of Funniest Comic in Tulsa. I’ve produced my own shows at alternative comedy venues. I’ve been writing this blog. I’ve spoken and performed at conferences big and small. I have been featured in a national magazine and in the Tulsa World newspaper. I am, according to my own definition, successful.
Years ago, when I trained under Judy Carter, the legendary expert on building a successful comedy career, she said something in my class that has stuck with me to this day, “Decide if you want to be successful or famous. There are hundreds of successful comedians who work every day, and there are thousands who will struggle forever because they want to be famous.” It took almost ten years for this sage advice to really hit home with me. I will be eternally grateful to Judy for her wisdom and guidance.
The key to being successful at comedy, at work, in our relationship is simple: Decide what your intentions are, and work diligently towards fulfilling your goals. I intend to make people laugh and think. I intend to build a successful business that uses my strengths to make my little corner of the world a better place. I don’t intend to get on a stage and belittle myself, my race, or others in general. I intend to make a living without having to drive 500 miles just to make $100 a night. Hell, I can go back to scrubbing toilets and make more money! I intend to be happy doing what I love, and maintaining my integrity.
It took me a long time to be honest about what I wanted. It has taken almost ten years to see glimmers of success. I feel blessed to have the support of my husband and my friends who cheer for me, when I have a little thing go right. I am happy. I am walking on my path. I am living my dreams.
In case you’re wondering, I still keep a jar of caramel in my car, in case I decide to run off to LA and meet up with “The Chin!”