I specialize in comedy shows and humor keynotes
for corporations and associations, and that’s where I make the bulk of my living. It’s fun and it not only allows me to do a job I love but I also get to meet lots of people. But in addition to performing comedy, as you may know, I also do some freelance comedy writing – hence the blog, and I get asked by writers, and wannabe writers if you can actually make a living at comedy writing. Well, yes and no – in my opinion.
If you’re on staff at a TV show or late night show,
you can make a great living at it. I’ve got friends who have and are doing that, and the money is very good. As a freelancer, you can also probably make a living at it. I think if I really, really worked hard to drum up business, I could probably pay my mortgage with the money I could make at comedy writing. It most likely wouldn’t be near what I’m making now, but I could probably live on it. I don’t push to pick up more freelancing gigs because I just don’t have the time, so I have to pick and choose what I want to do and who I want to work with. But yes, it’s possible to make a living at it.
Now, with that said,
if you’re a new writer or someone who doesn’t have a reputation for comedy writing, then you may eventually be able to support yourself with comedy writing, but not immediately. You need to build a reputation for it or you’ll starve. I’ve been doing this comedy thing full time for 17+ years, and I’ve got a great sample of my writing out there – my act. So people contact me to write for them. I also write on a pay-per-joke basis with no obligation to buy, because I can afford to do that (plus I really want people to be happy with the jokes).
If you’re new to comedy writing,
you might have a harder time getting stated, but here’s some ideas if you want to make a living at comedy writing:
- do it on a pay-per-joke basis. . .that way people will take a chance on you
- record or get a comedian to record jokes you’ve written and get them out on the internet for others to see
- contact local radio stations – DJs are using up material every day, so they may be willing to take a look at your jokes
- go to comedy clubs and mingle with the comedians – I am against comedians paying for jokes, but if you want to get some first clients, then go for it. There’s always some newbie comedian who is lazy enough to want to pay their way into the business
- contact speakers. I got some clients by watching speakers at events and then contacting them later to see if they wanted me to write for them. I first sat thru their speech and then gave them, for free, jokes that I wrote for them while they were on stage.
- put up a website with samples of jokes you’ve written.
- When you’ve written for someone, get a testimonial and let others know how happy your client is. Some people may not want to give you one because they don’t want to let the world know that they don’t write their own material, but maybe if you promise to just use their initials, they’ll let you
Those are some ideas for comedy writing that will get you started. Good luck.