Do the work

I recently listened to a fantastic interview with Rita Rudner. The comedian talked about how after spending 10 years as a dancer on Broadway, she read a business article about Softsoap being introduced into the market as the first liquid hand soap. "You can either make the same product and try to make it better, or you can create a new product that has its own individuality." She realized, "There were millions of singers and dancers and actresses, and there were only two female comedians that I was aware of... so if I could be unique in a female comedic voice, maybe I could get noticed more than if I can turn and kick."

So she decided to try to write jokes and built a comedy school curriculum for herself. She started going to comedy clubs. She checked out comedy albums from the library and listened repeatedly, diagramming every joke, noting when people were laughing and why people were laughing and how the joke was constructed. She studied comedy videos from a variety of comics. She attended every comedy festival she could. She read books about comedy and psychology to try to understand the way the brain works. She focused on joke-writing structure. She would leave voicemails for friends and ask them if her jokes were funny. As Rudner told interviewer Marc Maron, "I got to a joke. And I got to another joke. And then I kept going." She would sit in line for hours in the hopes of getting a chance to tell her jokes. She would watch other comedians every night she could. She went to all the open mic nights and just kept working.

All that work paid off. She's had an extremely successful comedy career; she's also been in films and on TV and on stage, has authored bestselling books, and boasts the longest running solo comedy show in Las Vegas history.

Got big dreams? Don't expect opportunities and success to be handed to you.

Be like Rita. Do the work.

Photo by Israel Palacio on Unsplash

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