Best Advice for Making Money in Comedy, According to Working Comedians on Reddit
Amazon has virtual shelves full of books with advice on crafting funny jokes. MasterClass and online writing gurus offer plenty of tips for turning your bad puns into killer punchlines. But what if the thing you really want to learn is how to turn all this mirth-making into money? That’s why Redditor Old-Act3456 recently took to the r/Standup subreddit to ask: “Is there a good board or sub for discussing the BUSINESS of stand up? Like ways to make $ in comedy?”
While Old-Act3456 hasn’t exactly been flooded with $$$olutions, some pro comics did show up to offer some money-making advice. Senorfancypantalones offers a number of practical steps: “Write clean material for tv, cruise ships, corporates, fundraisers etc. Write blue/political material for clubs and other appropriate speaking engagements. Study, take some acting classes, book some acting work, train your voice for voice-over work. Create or become involved with podcasts. Submit scripts for tv (rates can vary).”
That’s all based on senorfancypantalones’ personal comedy experience performing on cruises, corporate gigs, and clubs, with some TV writing thrown in for good measure. “Act in a couple shows a year, tour once a year with a new show, festival shows once or twice a year and (I) am a voice artist too.” u/senorfancypantalones says this mix has them earning in the mid-six figures, but that hefty sum only comes with their most important advice: “You have to treat it like a job. Every gig you book potentially leads you to another gig. So dress the part, act the part, treat yourself like a headline act (no one else will until you do).”
Self-proclaimed ‘sit-down comic’ jlbcomedy says, “Produce shows yourself if you want to make the most money.” After five years in stand-up, jlbcomedy started their own show this year, resulting in the most comedy cash they’ve made so far. And “that is just off of a free show with a bar cut deal too so if you can actually move tickets you can make decent money.”
Running your own comedy show (booking comics yourself and selling the show to a venue) is another good path to profits, says OtherWhiteMeat, a practice that “made a significant difference in my comedy income.” Even putting in a small effort to be a good partner with the venue will pay off, they say.
Being a comedy subreddit, you can always expect the smartasses to weigh in. “If you make a single cent off of your comedy, you’ve lost all creative integrity,” jokes JeruldForward. “I live in the dumpster behind the bar I perform at. It’s a very short commute and I always have access to food.”
Making cash is crucial for paying the rent and avoiding JeruldForward’s dumpster, but critims also has these practical words of advice: “Never start comedy for money. If you’ve got something the money will come.”