Friday, August 30, 2013

White Man's Disease

Wednesday August 28th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   There is an evolution chart of success in standup comedy, and I need to move a position or two to the right or I’ll continue to drag my knuckles for the rest of my life. What I’ve been doing for so many years has been passed by. If I don’t start walking upright soon, I will get left in the dust.

   The icy truth is, a white male on stage telling jokes is not the way to break through and be seen by the masses. In other words – funny isn’t enough. Someone who just makes audiences laugh is no longer the standard bearer for success in the comedy business. An evolution has taken place.

   I don’t need to delve too deeply into the reasons why, but I do need to comprehend the bigger picture if I’m ever going to generate any kind of serious heat in the business. The landscape has changed completely, and it’s a whole new ball game. I’d better learn to play by the current rules.

   Unfortunately, I have a grave condition that plagues the majority of others in standup comedy and it’s called “Caucasianitis” or “White Man’s Disease”. It may have been a distinct advantage to be a white male in society the past few centuries, but in modern standup comedy it’s a curse.

   There has been a mega glut of white males between 20 and 50 attempting to stand out in a very crowded forest, and most end up getting lost in the shuffle. There are just too many, and we have become overpopulated like deer. There’s not enough food for us all, and we need to cull the herd.

   This is a very serious problem, and I don’t see it going away any time soon. Every city that has a comedy scene – which is every city - is producing more and more and it’s clogging the toilet at the top where people get their break. How is anyone supposed to stand out anymore? It’s tough.

   LA or New York used to be the place a comedian went to catch their big break. I was in LA for a year in the mid ‘90s, and it was crowded then. I’ve been to New York a few times, and it’s not a lot different there. The statistics are similar everywhere, and it makes succeeding even harder.

   So what’s the answer? Other than going to diesel truck driving school or welding academy, the only way to overcome this condition is to find a niche or a gimmick. That creates an entirely new set of problems, but it’s a necessity if a white male is going to swim in today’s overcrowded sea. 

   It takes years to become proficient at the craft of standup comedy alone. Adding on the task of finding a niche or a gimmick is overwhelming, but also very real. Just being a funny person isn’t going to pay off like it once may have. Newbies coming up the ranks need to grasp this concept.

   At least when I started, there was enough work to go around and I could make a livable income practicing my craft. That no longer exists, and people have to keep their day jobs much longer. It makes the whole game harder – and it was hard before. Now more than ever, a plan is essential.

   People think my ‘King of Uranus’ idea is stupid – and it is. The one thing it isn’t is just another white guy telling random jokes about his observations of everyday life. Jerry Seinfeld did that to the fullest, and got paid handsomely. Evolution is happening, and that’s no longer a valid option.

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