The Art of Avoiding Business
"Do the work."
-- every acting teacher I ever had
personal addendum: "the work" is more than just "acting."
This will probably skirt the edge of sounding like one of those dumb 'coming of age realizations,' kinda like those awful white people blogs who say "I used to be racist but what I recently realized was that those brown things walking around are people too! CRAZY!! Look at me I'm better now" ....
..... but this'll be wayyyyy less offensive, cuz it's not about race, it's about ART and BUSINESS.
Let me back up a sec.
I was a loner as a kid. So when I decided that I loved acting, I wanted to do it and nothing else. Doesn't that sound nice. "ACT FOR A LIVING."
The mistake I made is that I started ignoring anything I deemed unimportant. I went into art and AVOIDED business. And the BFA colleges I attended reinforced my instinct, teaching me all about the craft and not about the fact that IN ART, YOU ARE THE PRODUCT. And to be successful, you have to be a MARKETABLE one.
When I was forced to drop out of school due to financial reasons (I got engaged to the wrong person, and what is marriage but a domestic business partnership.... you sensing a theme yet?), I started pursuing standup comedy as a thing I did.
That's right. I will admit -- for the bulk of my "standup career" I was not pursuing it as one. I didn't know know how to grow a business. I didn't know how to ask for things. Back then the only resource on how to grow a comedy career was by asking people who were farther along. The headliners I met who could potentially help me grow were too focused on flirting their way between my legs, or they were hanging out with the their bros. (#metoo)
So I had to figure this all out myself, and it is only culminating now.
I don't have much advice for people younger than me in stand up comedy, because for how long I've been at this, I don't really have a right to advise. But I will tell you the most important lesson I've learned.
DO THE WORK (THAT INCLUDES BUSINESS!)
A great comedian will get opportunities occasionally. A good comedian with good business skills will get MORE OPPORTUNITIES and will therefore be afforded the opportunity to get great.
And one more reminder.
There is no job, even one you love, that you will love 100% of the time. There's no way Gene Hackman or Michael Caine immediately identified with every single one of their characters. They did the artistic work and found something to love. BUT, they ALSO did the networking, and sent the inquiries and submissions to get those jobs until they got the managers who did it for them. And even then, those dudes were probably STILL making phone calls on their time off. I mean, have you SEEN their imdbs?!