(sketch, stand-up, improv)
Comedians entertain audiences with humorous scenes or anecdotes.
Being professionally funny can take serious work; most comedians spend a good deal of time developing their material and honing their technique. A good comedian is able to turn any expertise or experience into a joke, which can make it easy to connect with a variety of audiences. Different audiences think different things are funny; the same jokes that leave one group chuckling hours later may be disappointing to a new crowd. It's important for comedians to read the room, gauge reactions, and change their strategy in real time if something isn't working.
There are several main types of comedians. The classic image is the standup comedian, who tells jokes and stories during live performances called sets. Standup comedians perform alone on a stage, which can be both daunting and rewarding. Sketch comedians write and develop scenes with characters, dialogue, sets, and blocking; a comedy sketch is essentially a small, funny play or short film. Unlike comedians who work from a set or script, improvisers make it all up as they go along, sometimes working from audience prompts to create a funny scenario on the spot. Improv, as it is known, is its own popular pastime and art form, and improv groups with good chemistry and timing may become popular.
- Writing jokes and humorous material
- Memorizing, rehearsing, and rearranging bits
- Performing on stage, on camera, or both
- Marketing oneself to potential audiences and venues
- Monitoring and playing off of audience reactions
Comedians work in all kinds of environments, and in various capacities. Some function as actors, delivering funny lines or performing physical gags for shows; others lean into the writing and creative side of comedy, or teach improvisation and delivery classes. Standup comedians may get booked for sets at comedy clubs and other venues. Well-known comedians and rising stars may be asked to contribute their humor to TV and film projects; it's not unusual to find one or more comedians in a writer's room for a new show. Comedians are masters of delivery, which can make them ideal candidates for animated voiceover work or radio hosting. Event hosting gigs often hire comedians to keep audiences in good spirits through otherwise dull proceedings. The career possibilities for a committed comedian are endless.
There is no educational barrier to a career in comedy; a comedian need not have degrees or diplomas, as long as they can make audiences laugh. However, studying certain subjects can be beneficial to comedians; taking courses in performance or public speaking can make it easier to memorize and deliver material, and knowledge of other subjects can expand a comedy repertoire. It can be very difficult to make a living from comedy, and most up-and-coming comedians have a day job while they make a name for themselves. The rise of social media has changed the comedy game, with hilarious content creators sharing their work online; those with views and followings may see demand for further appearances, which they can leverage into professional opportunities.
If you're a natural entertainer committed to the art of making people laugh, a career in comedy might be right for you.
Association For Applied And Therapeutic Humor is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study and application of humor to effect positive change.
The Ladies of Comedy Association is dedicated to advancing the careers and positions of women in the comedy industry.
Comedic Pursuits serves as a resource for the comedy community.