18 Pros and Cons of Being a Comedian

Comedian

Should you become a comedian?

Funny, you should ask…

There are irregular hours, long treks on the road, hectic schedules, intermittent income streams, competition, and the need to generate new material and be on-the-mark funny on demand.

Yet you still plan to work as a professional comic.

Now that’s funny! 

So, ask yourself: What does success look like to you?

Do you want to tour colleges as a stand-up comic, join a comedy troupe or improve group, host a podcast from your living room, or move to LA and sell a screenplay?

And is this a dream with a deadline or an ongoing enterprise?

Hobby or livelihood? 

Pros of Making Funny for a Living

1. Satisfaction

The amusing thing is that humor explores the human condition at heart.

If the rhythm is right and the flow happens, a comedian can have the cool of a philosopher and the wisdom of a bartender at a trendy watering spot, making people laugh and forget their problems for a while. 

2. Creativity

Some people are called to fashion something that has never been seen before.

Comedians love ideas and language and have a sharp sense of observation.

If you’re fortunate, you reach someone with your satire and help them see a new view of a situation. Humor is a valuable tool for dealing with complex issues.

Some of the fiercest comedians come from marginalized communities.

Humor speaks truth to power.

Comedians can present audiences with a unique perspective.

The best leave a mark on society.

Think of pioneering talents such as Lilly Tomlin, Lenny Bruce, Richard Prior, and Bill Hicks and contemporary talents like Russell Brand, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ricky Gervais, and Chris Rock. 

3. Challenge

Sure, you could join your mom’s law firm, but where’s the adventure?

Perhaps fate has different plans for you.

You could have become a pimp, a meth chef, a stock market analyst, or a hedge fund manager.

But you didn’t—something pulled you back from the edge of the abysmal…oops, that’s the abyss.

You had a vision for a career where, if all went well, you could get people so cranked up that attractive people on a date would squirt diet rum and diet coke out of their nostrils laughing. 

4. Community

As a comedian, you get to hang out with comedians you admire—people who get your values and lifestyle and can offer friendly competition to hone your craft.

Even better, it’s like being invited to the cool kids’ table in the cafeteria.

But, of course, I was kidding—like that was ever going to happen! 

However, if you’ve yearned for a tribe of clever, funny, bitter, twisted peers who get you—and to paraphrase Mark Twain, like you anyway, that can be powerful.

We’re talking about peeps who can get into a battle of “three guys walk into a bar” scenarios and match your fart joke for a fart joke.

And then raise you a Tijuana stage show joke that’d make People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a.k.a. PETA, furious (on the ass’ behalf.) 

5. Travel

If your motto is “life’s better lived out of a suitcase,” then a career as a solo stand-up comedian could merge your love of discovery with a talent for making audiences come together in laughter.

6. Interpersonal Relationships

People will find you charismatic.

When you talk, they’ll expect you to be funny, which can be mesmerizing when the topic is geopolitics or the right to die with dignity and wondering if you’ll break into Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” ( You won’t—that’s for amateurs.)

Friends and family find your every utterance fascinating and fraught with meaning.

While wondering if you’ll use the stories they confide to you in your material. 

7. Insight and Growth

Comedy is an outgrowth of an individual’s outlook.

And as you have experiences and experiments, as you crash and burn or soar and take off, you change. 

The alchemy of existence transforms some things into gold, brass, and plutonium.

And it’s all gist for the material.

8. Remuneration

Any career in the entertainment industry is like buying lottery tickets for a job.

But you know what?

Someone wins.

There are hordes of comics performing for free to learn the trade, some barely scraping by, some making a comfortable living, and a few reaching rock star status.

9. The Last Laugh

Congratulations!

You’ll have the satisfaction of proving your guidance counselor, family, and partner wrong.

Being a smart alec can be an excellent way of being a respectable, tax-paying member of the community. 

Pros AND Cons

Some pros and cons of being a comedian are opposites: mega riches vs. financial insecurity, fame vs. obscurity.

And, funnily, some of the same traits are mirror images, just like traits in any other capacity.

So, for example, the need to continuously push yourself further for fresher, more honest material might create great jokes or a nervous breakdown.

You must possess a rare combination of sensitivity to view life as it is (because all humor is based on a kernel of truth) and yet be able to withstand difficult periods, including economic uncertainty, competition, and criticism.

Groupies?

Both pros and cons.

The search for the right scatological punchline that works for guitar solos, cold sores, and hostile business takeovers?

Both. 

Cons of Being a Comedian

1. Satisfaction

Yeah, you’re responsible for making people laugh and forget their problems for a while.

If you hear crickets and the sound of ice cubes melting in drinks, you may be criticizing yourself during this work crisis, a critic in your head moaning, “You had one job…”

2. Community

 As a comedian, you can hang out with other comedians you like and admire.

And discover that comedians are humans with all the noble and less estimable qualities it entails. 

Hanging out with your kind, you may find yourself agreeing with Groucho Marx, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” 

3. Travel

Some prefer the comforts of home.

Some 4-star hotels, others a Red Roof Inn, and others are destined to spend time on couches during a self-hosted couch tour that runs concurrently with your scheduled comedy performances!

4. Interpersonal Relationships

 People will find you charismatic.

When you talk, they’ll expect you to be funny, which can be mesmerizing when the topic is geopolitics or the right to die with dignity and wondering if you’ll break into Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” ( You won’t—that’s for amateurs.)

Friends and family find your every utterance fascinating and fraught with meaning.

While wondering if you’ll use the stories they confide in your material. 

5. Challenge

Challenges are satisfying.

They’re how we learn and grow.

But there are some days when it would be wonderful to rest on one’s laurels.

However, in any creative/artistic/entertainment career, you’re as good as your last product.

So part of the career of comedy is meeting the challenges of creating a product-—stand-up material, improv, books, podcasts, or essays, and then working through the demanding details of finding the market and generating a brand, a buzz, and an audience.

6. Growth

There’s that awkward period in a creative individual’s life when artistic vision exceeds technical ability.

One finds one’s voice through commitment, trial, error, and practice.

Failure?

One is encouraged—to try a different approach; with success, there’s pressure for repetition. 

7. Financial Insecurity

The fact that being financially insolvent is called “broke” really tells you everything that you need to know.

Even when you start making a name and reputation, the money may come in ebbs and flows. 

And many comedians start their careers performing for free or low pay.

Not to mention competition (friendly and otherwise).

And, there are the pundits, politicians, and oligarchs who lose power just as we are ready to craft the supreme punchline.

8. The Last Laugh

Anything but complete marquee success may allow, you fear, your guidance counselor, cousins, or ex-significant other(s), to have the last laugh. 

Then you remember that you’re evolving and learning from the experience.

You find it hilarious that you’d ever think otherwise.

Then you recall that you’re eating ramen in a studio apartment.

Hilarious. 

9. Everyone’s a Critic

Will Smith is lurking at this very moment.

The threat is real. 

Pros and Cons of Being a Comedian – Summary Table

Pros of Making Funny for a LivingCons of Being a Comedian
1. Satisfaction1. Satisfaction
2. Creativity2. Community
3. Challenge3. Travel
4. Community4. Interpersonal Relationships
5. Travel5. Challenge
6. Interpersonal Relationships6. Growth
7. Insight and Growth7. Financial Insecurity
8. Remuneration8. The Last Laugh
9. The Last Laugh9. Everyone's a Critic

Is Being a Comedian the Right Career Choice for You?

Being a comedian is an exciting vocation.

Imagine sharing that you’re a comedian at your high school reunion or meeting your future in-laws!

Yet the title comic, with a noble lineage from the court jester, doesn’t necessarily command respect on loan applications and resumes today.

Besides a great sense of humor, a comic needs to be self-directed and resilient—with the ability to bounce back from off nights, failed punchlines, and hecklers.

Travel is generally part of the package.

So are self-promotion, publicity, and scheduling.

Being a comedian, a self-made creative, just like a politician, porn star, or OnlyFans model, requires a rare combination of charisma, character, and willingness to put it all out there. 

There are myriad pros and cons to being in the funny business.

In addition, each individual must consider the emotional and physical work and effort necessary to vie in an incredibly competitive field vs. the intrinsic satisfaction of the creative work.

Jamie Willis
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