Rejection: Standup Comedians Need Laughs | You Need Readers

Last week I wrote about dealing with adversity by comparing rejection to being cut from sports teams, and I’m going to expand on one of the important themes: perhaps the client you are pitching to is actually very intelligent and business savvy and the reason they don’t want to hire you is simply this: your work sucks.

I attend lots of stand-up (hyphens fix everything) comedy shows here in Vancouver, and I’ve seen some hilariously talented comedians like Ivan Decker, Vanessa Lever, and John Cullen. As with any area of specialty, however, there is the possibility of running across a…dud. I really shouldn’t be so amazed when I see this phenomenon occur, but it’s difficult to fathom just how awkward these situations are. A recent bombing-in-progress got me thinking though; stand-up comedy, for all its triumphs and failures, isn’t so different from copywriting. Standup comedians who drop awkwardness like its hot is the same concept as bloggers searching for readers in all the wrong places.

1. Jokes Are A Business (But Business Is No Joke)

Comedians make their living by telling jokes; the funnier an audience finds them the more shows they’ll be booked for and the more money they’ll make. Copywriters, marketers and brand identity gurus operate in much the same manner, their currency is just different. We make our living increasing the exposure of our clients to their potential clients; the more applicable our work is the more jobs we’ll get hired for and the more money everybody makes.

2. Jokes Are Subjective (So Is Writing)

Everything a comedian delivers is subject to factors that are impossible to foresee. Whether a person finds a joke to be humourous or not is totally up to that particular person, their personal tastes and what mood they happen to be in at the time. Business operates the same way, clients have their own unique challenges and situations (not to mention physical location) that will affect their opinions of your writing, not the least of which being the relevance of your work to their services.

3. Tell Different Jokes, Or Get Off The Stage

Here we make the distinction: there are unmitigating factors at work when you deal with a new client and it’s your job to dig deeper and discover the unique characteristics of a project. When a stand-up comedian is BOMBING on stage, there’s two paths to take, and I recently watched both scenarios play out in the same night.


One young man kept things classy as he fought to remember his material, he was honest with the crowd and he talked everyone through it. The audience was sympathetic and it was actually a super funny event to be a part of. He vowed to be more prepared next time, and in doing so accepted the responsibility for his failure.

Then There’s Denial

Another gentleman who performed that night…wow. The crowd wasn’t appreciative of his unique approach to super-offensive (which totally works sometimes) humour, so he proceeded to beg for laughs and ultimately resorted to insulting the crowd and their lack of understanding for his ‘work’. This was not the most tactful approach. If only this ruiner o’ the moment would have appreciated the fact that he needed to modify his material based on his audience’s reaction. If people aren’t reading your work, perhaps the work is the issue.

When dealt a big thumbs down from a potential client, are you honest with yourself and the fact that your work simply isn’t up to par, or are you the rage-aholic who blames your propensity for rejection on everyone but yourself? This applies to anything you might be attempting to create; Corb Lund was a small-time rocker who took a long time to arrive on the Canadian music scene, but he always turned back to improving his music whenever he was faced with rejection.

A tried and true method to live by is to constantly look in the mirror. Always maintain honesty with the absolute most important client in your life: yourself.

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Photo Cred: Flickr user MiiiSH

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  1. Pingback: The Comforting Realities of Universally Appealing Content | Vancouver CopywritingFunction Writing Group

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