Entrepreneurs Can Learn from a Standup Comic

Jim Carrey Standup Comic

Standup comedy is a popular way people choose to share their observations of the world around them. Starting a business requires observing the world around you in order to learn, adapt, and keep your business afloat. You must carefully watch the competition, the market, your team, and your various stakeholders.

Standup Comics take risks. It’s part of the job. Jerry Seinfeld had to get up in front of complete strangers and try jokes that might not work at New York City’s “Catch a Rising Star”, a chain of comedy clubs, before he caught national attention as the star of his own sitcom.

Standup Comics have their own persona. What separates Mitch Hedberg from Jeff Dunham? Their individual style of the standup comic makes them unique and unforgetable. Without your persona, you blend into a crowd of nobodies who get forgotten almost the instant they leave the stage. It’s imperative that you have that special edge that keeps you on your customer’s minds when they want or need something.

Great Comics develop material. They remember what makes the audience laugh the most and they toss out what didn’t work. This purging of ideas can be more costly as a business owner, but it’s a necessary evil.

Standup Comics handle hecklers. They take the insults and turn them around to make the rest of the audience laugh. The entrepreneur has to take the bad reviews and learn from them to improve their business.

Standup Comics “borrow” from other comics. As anyone who has looked into being an artist can tell you, nothing is original; it’s all been done. However, if another business owner does something that works, it is okay to use the same idea as long as you put your own spin on it.

Standup Comics respect others’ material. If you heard the same joke from Jeff Dunham that Rodney Dangerfield used years ago, you would lose interest and probably stop listening to him. Entrepreneurs follow the same rule. If Pizza Hut used the same marketing ploy and pizza baking techniques as Papa John’s, there would likely be a lawsuit following shortly, and in turn the customer would lose respect for them.

Standup Comics connect with their audience. If you can’t relate, the joke won’t be as funny. If Maria Bamford used material about nothing but Chinese politics, only those interested in Chinese politics would get the joke. Similarly, if Bill Gates tried to sell the general public mass produced motherboards… I think you get the idea.

Standup Comics practice all the time. Do you think Phyllis Diller would have gotten as many laughs if she didn’t sit in front of a mirror and observe her own delivery? Some words also deliver better laughs than others. Standup requires you to “stand up” in front of an audience and entertain them. If you don’t evolve your performance according to what works and what doesn’t, you’re just standing there telling jokes, and anyone at a party can do that for free. Similarly, the business owner has to look at what they do and put on a show that makes their product appealing. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but without practice, your business runs stale.

Having your own business, in short, is putting on a show for results. Some make it and some don’t.

If you are an entrepreneur, what are you doing to keep the customers coming back?