Comedians love giving advice, most of the time when they’re not even asked for it! Unsolicited Advice is WitOut’s chance to give Philly comics the opportunity to do just that, without looking like a know-it-all so-and-so.
Thinking about making the move to New York from Philly huh? Don’t do it man! Well don’t do it until you are ready. Of course only you will know when that is, but I don’t think there’s any need to hurry. It’s true you are probably less likely to get “discovered” in Philadelphia and yes, ultimately, if you want to “make it” in this business, you should make a move. I wouldn’t worry about that though. Try making sure all the local spots in Philly are recognizing your talent first, and then give the big apple a try. Philly has a great comedy scene with plenty of stage time and a good supportive community. It’s a really great city to develop who you are as a comedian.
I made the move to New York because of a job and not because I necessarily felt ready to take on stand-up comedy there. The move has mostly worked out for me, but making the transition into the New York comedy scene is a lot more difficult than Philadelphia or even Chicago, where I first started stand up. It takes some time to get any real comedy work at clubs or even the alternative comedy scene there. Shows will not be as frequent at first. That is why having established myself in Philadelphia was a great advantage to have over other comics in New York performing at my level. I could make the reasonable drive into Philly on any night of the week if I wanted to. I can’t tell you the amount of New York comics who have never had the opportunity for the valuable stage time I continue to get in Philadelphia. I will just say this, the occasional Philly show or open mic have kept me sane. Whenever I need to work on new material and I need an actual audience response to gage that material, I look forward to coming down and running through stuff there.
Speaking of actual audience, once you do get to New York, get out as much as possible, meet people. You can get on stage several times a night, every night. Be prepared though. Most open mics do not have much of an audience. You will be performing in front of crowds that are mostly just other comics. A lot of the time, they may not laugh. They will have seen you all week at every other open mic you do together. Don’t let it bum you out. It can. Instead use it as motivation to write as often as possible. There are plenty of friendly comics there too. For example, I live there. But it’s very competitive with a lot of hungry comics and it’s a much more treacherous scene to navigate. You have to be a bit more thick-skinned. Stick with it. If you are funny, you will get spots. It will get easier. I haven’t really figured it all out yet myself. Otherwise I would be doing more too. It’s not like you’ve heard of me. It seems to me, the old clichés are true for everyone I see having success at this. To recap: It’s basically, get up as much as possible, and write as much as possible. Work hard. Be friendly and nice to everyone. You are not better at this than everyone. Keep at it. Good things will eventually happen.
Pete Kuempel is a “Philly” comic who just so happens to live in New York City. We won’t hold that against him, though.
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