that’s one thing I get asked A LOT, at least when it comes to comedy – not so much for cooking or doing handyman work around my house. I don’t do either of those very well, but I do have lots of people asking me for joke advice – out of the blue they’ll send me scripts and jokes and all sorts of documents that they want me to look at to tell them “if it’s funny.” And that’s hard for me because, as I’ve mentioned before, comedy is subjective.
I saw some videos on Phyllis Diller
this week, and in one interview someone asked her what she thinks made her so successful, and she said “ignoring people’s advice!” And so, even though I give advice on this blog, I guess today’s post will be about ignoring people’s advice.
And that’s probably
good advice, plus nobody – not your friends or your family or even other comedians really knows EXACTLY how to do something like comedy, so why listen to them? Sure there things you can do to help your jokes, and ways you can practice, etc. . .but when it comes down to it, I don’t think any 2 comedians took the exact same path to comedy. And the advice you’d have gotten from a veteran comic 20 years ago like “get your 5 minutes together and get on late night TV” in order to be famous probably doesn’t apply now. A friend of mine saw a comic who’d been on late night TV 4 or 5 times. . . getting people to fill credit card applications at a store. Late night TV did not make him a star as it once did.
In a video from
many moons ago, Phyllis said that her best friend gave her some advice – she told Phyllis to get rid of that laugh because she’ll never get famous with a laugh like that. But guess what we think of when we think of Phyllis Diller? Right, that cackle, that, well, MADE HER FAMOUS! And in his book Jay Leno says he was told to get a chin job because his chin is so huge. Good thing he ignored THAT advice as did Oprah when a TV network earlier in her career asked her to change her name. I saw an interview by Rosie O’Donnell once, and when asked what advice she’d give to up and coming comedians, she said “quit. Don’t do this job.” When the interviewer said “what are you talking about?” She replied that when she tells comedians to quit, what she’s hoping is that they tell her to go to hell, and that they’re going to do it anyway, because that’s the kind of fortitude and perseverance that you need to do this job. If you’re going to quit just because she tells you to quit, then you don’t have what it takes to succeed.
So when you’re
thinking of using humor, and friends give you all sorts of advice about what to do or not to do, feel free to ignore it. Okay, you don’t have to ignore all of it, but maybe weigh it yourself and seeing if it fits for you. Use your own judgment and don’t hope that someone else’s thoughts are better for you than what your thoughts are.
that you’ll be successful if you are just you, so you have to do what’s right for you. People will enjoy that you are you and that will move you forward. And I second that. Cherry pick the advice you’re going to pay attention to. We don’t really need another comic exactly like the ones we already have anyway.