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Top Ways To Enter The Humor Profession

Jan 10, 2008
I can't tell you the right or wrong way to enter the field of comedy or how to become a cartoonist and keep a straight face. And that's good. Don't keep a straight face. That is rule number one.

Much of finding one's way in comedy or humor or any kind of entertainment is to discover what feels right. Which of these genres of work can one do and feel comfortable in his/her skin. If one tries acting, and feels like a fraud, then acting might not be for them, or, they may take professional acting classes and try again. In fact, the classes are a good idea from the start in any field. I tried many venues including the stage before finally settling for humor writing and cartooning. And I feel very content with it. When do you know you've paid your dues? Believe me, you'll know it. Be sure to bring several hankies for the multiple bloodied nose experiences.

It doesn't hurt to be in a big city like New York or L.A. when trying to enter stand-up comedy. There are plenty of clubs with open-mic nights every night. This is a great place to hone one's skill, and get better. If one finds they are not getting better, but more frustrated, it might be time to look at other venues for one's talent, or, take classes in what interests you.

Keep in mind, once you are an emcee at a nightclub, you have not "arrived". You will get a lot more attention from the opposite sex (and sometimes your own), a few free meals and drinks if the club owner is generous, but not a lot more perks than that.

Keep in mind Leno, probably the hardest working man in the entertainment industry, spent decades touring the country, toning his stand-up act and tweaking his delivery. That kind of experience is not mandatory, but if one ever wants a chance at such a job as his, it couldn't hurt.

Comedy acting? Take classes. There are plenty of them in larger cities. I took some in New York during my short stint there. Yes, they helped, but not enough. Such is life.

No doubt, the most i ever learned as a humor writer, and eventually having my own cartoon, was "being around other humor writers and actors". I was fortunate enough that a childhood friend, Patrick Weathers, had been a regular featured performer on Saturday Night Live. Patrick was my roommate in N.Y. I was privy to his friends who, were for the most part, quite witty. Humor is one of the greatest coping mechanisms whether one is in the field or not.

I got into cartooning as a humor writer and concept designer (maybe equivalent to art director in the movies). I can draw but not very well. So I recruited artists who felt they understood my concepts and writing and were willing to draw on speculation if I would continuously promote their name and art during down times, that is, of little or no income. Over the years illustrators came and went. A day did not go by in the first three years that I did not think we would have to abandon the project. But we persisted. (It doesn't help to read self-help books on the topic of persistence.)

Ten years later, it is almost unimaginable to me. We created the largest offbeat cartoon panel site on the Internet with over 8000 original images and have lured about 10 million people since we started counting ten years ago. We've opened 7 niche stores with over 90,000 licensed products. In many ways, I guess we have arrived. And if we can do it, so can you.
About the Author
Nearly homeless in a metal warehouse, Rick London created the largest offbeat cartoon site on the Internet, Londons Times Cartoons The Best Ways To Enter The Field Of Humor
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