Let’s remember, we’re all in this game for fun
Troy Kinne is a comedian and content creator.
With a huge following on YouTube, a long stand-up career, success working on radio with the Today Network, plus writing and often starring in a string of exciting TV shows, he’s ‘made it’ in the media industry.
But how do you exactly define the term ‘making it’… Troy recently wrote this piece for Spotd.
OK, so I’ve been asked to write an article on what I think it takes to “make it” in the comedy industry these days. I’ll admit, at first I wrestled with the notion of ‘making it’; obviously thinking, “well I have by no means at all made it” so how am I supposed to write this? However, it then occurred to me that maybe we all put this irrelevant pressure on ourselves to ‘make it’ when we don’t even know what the term essentially means.
I hate to speak on behalf of them, but I’m sure that the entertainers who we consider absolute successes in their field such as Dave Hughes, Wil Anderson (right), Hamish and Andy etc. would more than likely agree that there will never be a point where they kick back and say “well I’ve made it, I can stop now and just cruise along”. These people are great because they have a desire to keep creating, keep pursuing, and for the foremost – keep entertaining.
With this in mind, I believe that if you set out to pursue what you are passionate about, and you strive for it full heartedly, not for the money or notoriety, but for the fun of it, then you ARE currently ‘making it’ and NO-ONE can say you’re a failure. You might do a festival show that gets a one star review, so what – you’re doing it, you might have a YouTube sketch that gets some negative comments, so what – you made it, you might have a TV show that gets axed which leads to everyone thinking and saying “oh your TV show failed, YOU failed” – NO! You pursued a desire that resulted in you getting a TV show, so no matter what the result, the JOURNEY to it is ALREADY the success. Reason being that in this industry especially, reaching any milestones or goals you set for yourself takes nothing but relentless passion, discipline and old fashioned hard work; it just happens to be masked with a thick layer of FUN, and unfortunately this is what comedians / entertainers are solely judged on. The effort it takes to get to that fun that is seen on stage/on screen/heard on radio is disregarded and not considered, which ironically means that said entertainer has done their job well.
If however, I am to dig down deep and find a shred of advice I think is worthy of giving to people starting out in this industry. It would be to have your idols – sure, use them for as much inspiration as you can, but do not feel you have to BE them. It took me a while to find my own voice, trust my own instincts and be myself on stage rather than watching how my heroes did it and trying to do a similar style. WORK WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT and OWN IT. Absolutely, I wish I had the intellect of Sean Micallef or Rob Sitch, the quick wit of Josh Lawson or Hamish Blake or the brain of Dave Hughes, but I do not, so why put the pressure on myself to be what those guys are. Just do what YOU think is funny and it will start to shine.
Bill Cosby (left) once made the point that you will never be able to please everyone so why not just please yourself (he was referring to performing for his audience, not self pleasure). I know that a lot of the stand up jokes I do on stage, the sketches I put on YouTube etc could ALL be cleverer, funnier, and more professional in some way to say the least. But if I know I’ve put in the maximum effort I was capable of at that time, then anything punters, or critics have to say about them should not bother me, because they aren’t aware of the backstory that took place for that joke or sketch to be written and produced.
The main thing to instill in your conscious, and this is the tricky one, especially these days, is to do what you are doing for the love and fun of it. I say “these days” because with the phenomenon of online videos going viral, it is very easy to become obsessed and focused on ‘getting likes on your Facebook page’ or ‘views on your YouTube clip’, thus discarding the reason you started creating comedy in the first place. Of course, having an online following is definitely becoming paramount in the entertainment industry, but I firmly believe that in order for things to progress from the online stage, you need to be creating content because YOU believe in its substance, not because it will “get hits”. If it’s good, the hits will come. The cream of the crop will always rise to the top. Yo.
I remember back in High School, my mates and I used to make sketches on a video camera, edit them from VCR to VCR (look that word up kids) and then just watch them ourselves and maybe show one or two friends and our parents. I’m the first to admit that these days the thought of this seems nowadays seems utterly pointless. Well I guess the point is that if you’re not doing it for the fun of it and the joy it brings you, then why are you doing it?
The entertainment online era is here right now whether we like it or not. It can be annoying at first, especially for stand up comics who have worked their arses off for the last fifteen years, only to be now overlooked by overnight ‘online sensations’. But the choices are these, be annoyed by the online era or embrace it, realise the fun that can be had with and the opportunities it can create. The latter choice is the more enjoyable of the two – trust me.
Good live stand up comedy is still in my opinion, the greatest entertainment experience one can endure, and in Melbourne we certainly have clubs that can guarantee the greatest comedians going around at each show i.e. The Comics Lounge, The Last Laugh Comedy Club, Spleen, Five Boroughs (and any other room run by Karl Chandler, Steele Saunders or Justin Hamilton) and believe me, this is just to name a few without even going interstate. I will assure you though, the owners of these clubs will admit that building a presence online is becoming the way of getting audiences to realise where they can go and see the great comedians in this country, known or unknown.
The difference between the Comedy Club scene in America, namely LA and New York, and Australia is that in America the top comedians more or less rotate from club to club every night, so for a talent agent to check out the ‘hot comics’ right now, they can simply rock up to any club and odds are they will see who’s ‘making a noise’ in the industry at the moment.
In Australia, thankfully we do have a number of Talent Management companies searching for and taking comedic talent to television (and radio), ensuring we do have shows we can get laughs out of. The process however, is not as easy as it is in the U.S. The reason for this is simple, there’s not as many of us.
We have some of the best talent in the world for sure, but in order for Management and the like to see it, takes organisation, choosing what club to attend on what particular night it’s running, waiting for a comedy festival, waiting until the sought after performer is headlining etc. It’s a ‘catch-22’ , because what makes our comedy shows great in this country is arguably the format, however as great as this is for an audience, it does mean it’s not as easy for a ‘talent scout’ as just walking into a club on a Saturday night knowing the best twenty comics going around at the moment are going to be here tonight. Sure you WILL see some of them, absolutely, but for a manager searching for who’s ‘making noise’ in Australia, the internet is becoming the place to do it. This can range from following the Facebook pages of The Comics Lounge, The Comedy Club or Spleen etc to see what comics are performing on what night, to simply going through popular online videos and seeing who’s responsible for them.
THIS is the reason platforms like Spotd are (if not already) becoming an essential ingredient for comedic talent in this country. In order to keep progressing and taking bigger exciting steps into new ventures, any online outlet for your comedic content is a must. What Spotd has going for it, which is exciting for comedians like myself who like to make videos for online, is that it’s run by people who have already for years been scouting, finding and nurturing new talent and putting them into new fun phases of their careers. So any talent on Spotd, you KNOW is the real deal, and is on the site for a reason. I myself am privileged to be on the site and hope it continues to get recognised for its initiative and willingness to keep ‘in touch’ with where the comedic talent of today can be seen and found.
My fear when starting to write this article was that it would come across as premature self-indulgence, but I hope my intention is apparent – that I am grateful for the fun things I am doing right now, but have no shame in saying that working hard is certainly a huge part of getting to do these fun things.
I will end with my favourite quote that I actually have as my phone screen saver. It is from Conan O’Brien during his goodbye speech from his TV show. For me it is not only the simplest quote I know, but also one that I feel for me personally, is proving that it has truth to it. The quote is this :-
“If you work really, really, really, hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
As corny as it sounds, if we all persistently do that, and keep in mind we’re all in this game to have fun; we’ll get along swimmingly and have a ball doing it.