I know a couple of struggling comics who have quit their day jobs in order to focus 100% on comedy. I don't really get this. Sure, if you're getting TV spots and working the road and can make a living, then go for it. But if you're not at that level, what's the point? It's not like there are daytime shows you can do. Are you really going to sit around and write jokes from 9-5 every day?
"Making it" in comedy is really out of your hands in a lot of ways. You can keep getting better, but you can't put a shot clock on getting paid. Quitting your job isn't really likely to speed up the process in any significant way. But it will make you a lot more anxious and take some of the joy out of it.
If you can't work at a job you love, maybe the best idea is to seek out a crappy job. Something that puts some cash in your pocket but that you don't want to stick with forever. Temping seems to be a popular route for a lot of comics.
I recall some Jay Leno interview where he mentioned how if he had a good job, he'd never have made it as a comic. He'd have been too complacent. Shitty jobs are the reason he stuck at it. (Then again, Leno is a freak about cash what with that whole "I never spend my Tonight Show money" thing.)
I also remember an interview where The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne talked about working for 11 years as a fry cook at Long John Silver's. He said he never minded it because it was completely mindless. His body was just a vessel moving objects around, but his mind was free to wander and roam anywhere. And that's why he stuck with it for so long.
Kinda related links:
Creating Our Own Happiness by Wayne Coyne [NPR]
Best Days Jobs for Indie Musicians [Thick Specs]
Sandpaper Suit is NYC standup comic Matt Ruby's (now defunct) comedy blog. Keep in touch: Sign up for Matt's weekly Rubesletter. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To punch the clock or not?
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