The Cost of Starting a Career in Comedy

It’s no secret that the world of comedy, especially the writers’ rooms, has long been an exclusive boy’s club rewarding Ivy League graduates and the occasional producer’s nephew. But what about the 99% of comedy writers who weren’t Harvard Lampoon classmates with Colin Jost? Most comedy writers with steady industry jobs aggressively pursued their passion on the side for years before it became their main source of income.

Back in October, Vulture interviewed comedian and writer for Tooning Out the News, Jeremy Levick about how he got his start in comedy. Here was part of his answer:

“The prerequisite for making a legitimate go at comedy is not only being funny, but also money. We don’t talk about it, but there are start-up costs. Years of working for free or at a financial loss. That weeds people out. Headshots cost money, late-night internships cost money. Spec scripts, open mics, Onion packets — this very Q&A! — all take time, which the working class has less of.”

In college, I became obsessed with podcasts about comedy. I started listening to podcasts where the entire premise of the 90-min conversation was simply, “how did you get this coveted job working in comedy?” (See: Making It with Riki Lindhome, On Comedy Writing).

Beyond the advice of “work your ass off,” all of these well-known comedy writers and producers emphasized the following two points after graduating or dropping out of college:

  • Move to NYC, LA, or Chicago
  • Perform and meet like-minded collaborators

Fast forward to 2021. Encouraging unemployed twenty-somethings to move out of their parent’s house right now simply isn’t viable. So how do you learn, perform, and meet-like minded collaborators in the new normal?

Enter Rizzle.

Our dream at Rizzle, a short form vertical video platform with 15 million global users, is to create a place where emerging creators are compensated for their art and supported as they grow. We also believe that no one can learn alone, and that’s why we are providing (free!) weekly 2-hour workshops throughout January. Our goal is to give you a digital home, a place to grow YOUR amazing talent without draining your resources.

We’re hoping to democratize the creative process:

Free workshops

We’re offering workshops in series creation, acting, musical comedy, and comedy writing for 1-min social videos! These classes are led by industry experts including former teachers at UCB & The PIT and will be interactive — with students reading and sharing their work for peer feedback.

Platform and (small) budget to make your series

We’re accepting submissions worldwide for vertical series in 1-minute episodes. Successful shows can earn promotion, monetization, and future series orders. And oh yeah: the best 3-Minute Series entries are winning a share of $3 million.

Creator community encouraging collaboration

We have a creators-only Discord with more than 900 members, connecting users on and off-platform.

Rizzle is here to cover these “start-up costs” and help creators elevate their content.

Since October, we’ve greenlit more than 1,000 series, providing at least a small budget for emerging creators to produce content that they own and can share across social platforms.

We’re hoping to provide a more beneficial avenue for emerging comedians and content creators. For now, the days of sketch groups spending $50/month per performer on costumes/props, rehearsal space, and videographers are behind us. The culture of not being compensated for live performances had been normalized in the comedy community, but that is quickly changing.

Everyone asks about the “secret to success in comedy.” If you can’t move to where the creatives and future collaborators are, then connect with them and build your own community online.

Jeremy Levick is right. The “start-up costs” of taking a half dozen classes aren’t feasible for many working-class families. Rizzle is here to democratize this process. Sign up for all of our free weekly workshops and intensives.

See ya on Zoom!

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Talent & Development Manager, Rizzle

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Adam Gold

Adam Gold

Talent & Development Manager, Rizzle

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