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Comedian Duties and Responsibilities

Though comedians tell jokes at events and perform before live audiences, their work is not all fun and laughs. Because comedians are in charge of their own careers, particularly at the beginning, they wear a number of different hats and perform a number of different tasks:

Write and Edit Comedy Bits Comedians write, edit, and polish the comedy bits they perform. Comedians who advance in their career path may eventually write scripts for television shows and movies.

Perform before Live Audiences Many comedians perform stand-up comedy on the stage and on television.

Make Radio and Podcast Appearances Comedians give interviews and engage with radio and podcast hosts.

Create Long Form Writing Many comedians supplement their income by writing humorous blog posts and articles.

Act on Television Successful comedians may be asked to act out roles on TV commercials or in a series.

Perform Voice Work Comedians perform voice work for video games and animated entertainment.

Host Events Because they can deliver jokes and perform before crowds, comedians also find work hosting events, serving in an emcee capacity.

Diffuse Live Hecklers Comedians learn how to handle live hecklers who attempt to pull attention toward themselves during performances.

Schedule Gigs Particularly at the beginning their career, comedians work to find and schedule their own gigs at clubs and other establishments.

Self-Promote Comedians sell themselves to audiences and market themselves using social media and other channels.


Comedian Skills and Qualifications

Comedians are performers working in the entertainment industry, a vast landscape. To be successful, comedians master many different skills and abilities:
  • Timing - many successful comedians say that timing is an essential component of comedy
  • Writing - successful comedians master a variety of writing types
  • Personality - this career often requires an over-the-top persona to gain notice from audiences
  • Sense of humor - comedians have a good sense of humor and the ability to make others laugh
  • Fearlessness - comedians perform live, sometimes before audiences of thousands
  • Communication - comedians should communicate clearly to deliver jokes to audiences
  • Marketing - comedians market and promote themselves through a variety of means
  • Internet savvy - comedians engage fans and find potential work through social media and other internet channels, often creating websites to promote their comedy
  • Finances - comedians who work freelance manage their own travel expenses and taxes
  • Team spirit - often, comedians collaborate with other comedians, writers, producers, and directors

Comedian Education and Training

Comedians do not require special education or training, though some comedians choose to attend acting and/or dance classes to improve their performance skills.

Comedian Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the 2016 median pay for actors was $18.70 per hour. In 2016, there were 63,800 jobs available in this career field. BLS data estimates that the job growth for actors is 12 percent through 2026, faster than the national average. Because comedians operate on a freelance basis, they receive no benefits. Comedians are responsible for their own healthcare, retirement, and vacation needs.

Helpful Resources

Comedians can find opportunities and learn ways to hone their skills with these resources:

National Association of Comedians - This association provides benefits to comedians of all kinds, as well as information about news and events.

How To Be A Stand Up Comedian: The Beginners Guide Towards Becoming A Successful Stand-up Comedian - This guidebook is for beginning comedians who want to hone their comedy skills and take them to the stand-up stage.

Comedy Exchange Association - This website is full of resources for comedians, including information about radio stations and comedy writers.

Mastering Stand-Up: The Complete Guide to Becoming a Successful Comedian - This book is an in-depth guide for comedians who want to master the stand-up comedy industry.

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