This item came up again during our show and it’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about since being admonished about it by another comedian. What I’m talking about is the question: when is the “right” time to do things in your career?
Another comedian, who shall remain nameless, brought up several times that they think some of the things I’ve done have been too soon in my career. The fact that I had headshots taken and have a Fan Page on Facebook particularly irk them.
Now, I completely understand where this person is coming from and I don’t necessarily disagree with their point of view; I’ve been doing this less than a year, so it may very well be premature for me to do these things. However, my thoughts on the matter are two fold:
One, why does it matter to other comedians what I (or anyone else) does? And two, when is the “right” time to do these things?
For the first point, I personally believe that people are too concerned with what others are doing and not focused on doing the best they can. This is not just in comedy, but in everything. I tend to look at the things I do in life the way a professional golfer often describes how they compete. I’ve heard time and again pro golfers say that when they’re on the course in a tournament, they’re only focused on playing the best round they can play because there’s nothing they can do that will effect the score of the other golfers they’re ‘competing’ against. You don’t play defense in golf. They’re focused on what they’re doing and forgetting about everyone else. I approach lots of things, including comedy, in the same way. I’m doing my thing and making the decisions I feel are the best for me and my journey. What other comedians are doing has little to no effect on what I’m doing. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to criticism, advice or help; on the contrary, I welcome it. I just don’t look at what other people are doing and think it somehow has an effect on me, the same way I think that what I do shouldn’t have an effect on anyone else.
The second point is more of an unknown. When is the “right” time to do certain things in your career? I don’t think there is an answer to that one. I think it depends on the person and their outlook. I truly believe that perception is reality and the better you present yourself, the more opportunity you’ll have. Along those lines, the person with the headshots, website and Facebook Page is going to be perceived as being more professional than the person without them. It doesn’t make them better, more deserving or more worthy of the opportunity, but in the eye of the preceptor, that’s how they’ll be seen. So, why wait?
Now, I certainly don’t believe in putting yourself into situations that you’re not ready for. I don’t care how professional I might look, if someone asked me to do my own 30 minute special, I’d turn them down so fast it would make their head spin. I’m not ready (and probably won’t be for another year to do 30 minutes of anything), but I don’t think that means I need to wait until I am ready for a 30 minute special to start the wheels turning. I actually think that part of putting yourself out there can be, and is, a driver to do more and push you along.
You’re never going to learn to swim unless you jump in the pool.