You’re not everyone’s ice cream flavor of the month.
Sorry if that’s news to you, but if you’re already in the stand-up comedy game, you no doubt know that by now. There are people you can’t make laugh, and there are people who find you and your humor downright offensive, whether for justified or unjustified reasons.
That’s true when you’re up there in front of a live crowd. It’s true in person. And it’s going to be true after you’ve finished writing your humor nonfiction book and start shopping it around.
Some people like chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. Some people don’t.
Some people like you. Some people don’t.
Some people like peanut butter. Some people have no taste. (Sorry, Europeans.)
It’s just the way life goes. But a smart comedian and writer-to-be knows how to shut out the haters and make people laugh anyway.
Don’t ask Innovative Editing to guarantee that any of the following comedy-related quotes are true. It can’t be done or, if it can, it would take too much time better spent eating ice cream.
But even if the attributed individuals didn’t say what they’re purported to have said, the quotes themselves are pretty thought-provoking…
“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” – Erma Bombeck
“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” – Mel Brooks
“Comedy is tragedy – plus time.” – Carol Burnett
If they’re right, which I think they largely are, that explains a lot about why comedians can get so much flak. It also explains why you have to be so careful when writing a humor nonfiction book.
If you want to be successful, you have to know who finds what comic and who finds what tragic.
Identify your audience, then tailor your presentation.
There are clean comedians and vulgar comedians, Christian comedians and mainstream comedians, group-specific comedians, PC comedians and comedians who flat-out refuse to play to PC crowds.
In order to be successful, they all have to know what their audience is expecting. What will those people find funny and what will they find boring, stupid or unacceptable? The same question applies to writing a nonfiction humor book. Unless you’re the pre-scandal Bill Cosby, don’t treat it like a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. It’s not.
To each their own, right? Now it’s time to go find yours.
Ever heard of Tim Hawkins?
In internet-using Christian circles, he’s a pretty big hit, with 58 stops scheduled for his 2019 tour season. Why is he popular in internet-using Christian circles?
Because he understands them (since he is one of them), he knows the best ways to poke fun of them to their faces, and he keeps it clean while he does.
But he wouldn’t do nearly so well with crowds that aren’t used to conservative Christian traditions, habits and other insider stuff. Which is why he normally schedules his appearances in churches, where people are more likely to hear about his events and pay to come see him.
Or take Sam Adams, whose website describes him as delivering acts that are “energetic, comically insightful” and “100 percent profanity-free” about every-day life…
Smooth. Clever. Hilarious. These words are used often to describe Sam Adams, who gained national attention by winning at the 2009 Great American Comedy Festival. The “True Color” video clip from his Dry Bar Comedy special filmed in 2017 went viral with over 10 million Facebook views in less than 72 hours.
That “True Color” clip is worth going viral and then some in my opinion. But, again, that’s my opinion. I’m sure he isn’t for everyone.
There are people who are extremely sensitive about topics involving race, which his “True Color” bit addresses. There are people who prefer more crude humor, which he doesn’t do. And there are people who simply have different senses of humor than the ones he caters to.
That’s your job as a comedian who actually wants to get paid. Which is why Kevin Hart, who is anything but PC, should have never thought he could host the Oscars.
Don’t make the same mistake.