Do you need a manager?

Reader question:

Do you have a manager? Do you NEED a manager? There is a lot of confusion around the kind of help having management can offer. Does it really open doors? Or is it just a shortcut to a door you may eventually open yourself?

Things to consider:
Some comics book all of their own gigs (i.e. Elayne Boosler, "Comic Insights", Silman-James press)
Young people can rise quickly (i.e. Aziz Ansari, Donald Glover), getting big writing credits and cast into shows with big stars. Did they do it with the help of management?
I have heard that Saturday Night Live casting will not consider letting someone audition unless they have managment.

I do not have a manager (and no one's offered). Would I consider it? Sure. 15% of nothing is still nothing.

But, unless your career demands are overwhelming you (unlikely), I don't think you NEED one either. A good manager can def help open some doors. But lots of people have managers and get little/nothing as a result.

I guess I think the big misconception is that a manager can take a nobody and "make them" overnight. I think a good manager can take heat and make it hotter. But if you're doing nothing right now, I think it's unlikely that a manager will come in and turn you into an overnight sensation.

In reality, most people who think they "need a manager" probably should worry more about getting funnier. That's the best way to make things happen. Be undeniably good. Do that for long enough and good things will happen.


soce said...

I agree. Some of my music friends hired managers at the very start of their career.. they paid them hundreds of dollars per month!! And then got angry when their careers didn't take off. I say hit the mics and keep doing your thing until you are the master of your craft--

Even if a manager did manage to bring a new performer into the spotlight, that new person would not be ready for it and probably mess up an opportunity that would be better suited for someone with far more experience.

ECN said...

I feel like "a manager" is so vague, though. Is this someone with some standing in the industry? Connections? Is he/she affiliated with anyone? Because there are good managers and bad ones, legitimate managers and illegitimate ones.

You have to ask, is being affiliated with this manager going to lend you legitimacy in the eyes of anyone? Because that's the one thing you can definitely get from a good manager -- people looking at you and saying, "all right, this guy is for real." Of course, you still have to be able to back that up, but you know what I mean.

(The corresponding question, of course, is who are YOU? I mean, even aside from your experience or the state of your act -- do you WANT to manage your own affairs? Do you have any talent for networking? Do you know how the industry works? Would you have any clue how to go about doing what you want to do: booking your own tour/finding acting roles (though that's more an agent thing)/etc.?

The fact is, a lot of comics are never going to be good at any of that stuff. And yeah, if those guys can find the right representation, that's probably a great thing -- it's not a matter of the manager/agent creating momentum, it's a matter of putting the client's momentum in the right direction.)

Abbi Crutchfield said...

When I talked with Jessica Kirson she said that most comedians have to be self-motivated, whether they have management or not.

You certainly don't need a manager to do comedy full-time.

Abbi Crutchfield said...

But you DO need a manager if you want to see an authentic combover. They're disappearing fast, so getting management is your best chance to view one up close.

myq said...

ECN is correct.

There are people who might offer to manage people when they are less experienced just because they want to make some money in the short-term, and if they do this enough, maybe they'll land on someone who eventually kicks it into high gear on their own, and then they were in on the ground floor.

The thing that people always say is that a good manager-client relationship is just that: a relationship. It's not something to be jumped into, it usually begins with a getting-to-know-you process, no pressure, just learning about whether the two of you will be a good fit together.

Knowing when it's time for a manager is also like love in that you'll just know.

Or you'll be alone forever.

And that's fine too.

Moving on/Subscribe to my newsletter

I only post on rare occasions here now. Subscribe to my Rubesletter  (it's at  mattruby.substack.com ) to get jokes, videos, essays, etc...