All You Need To Know About A Comedian Career

You think about becoming a comedian but are still not sure whether this career path will be the right way to go for you or not?

Great! Stick with me since I will show you all you need to know about a comedian career in the following article.

Not only will I show you how much you can make as a comedian, but you will also get some information about job prospects, job satisfaction, educational requirements, working hours and much more.

At the end of this article, I will also provide you with an FAQ section where I answer all questions you might have about being a comedian.

Without further ado, let’s get right into it!

Table of Contents

What does a Comedian do?

Comedians try to make people laugh and happy in various different ways.

While some comedians do live performances, others do their work on TV or online.

While the most famous comedians can make really good money, the majority of comedians will often struggle to pay their bills from what they are doing.

Responsibilities & Duties of a Comedian

  • Making jokes to make the audience laugh
  • Assuring that people have a good time
  • Leveraging of social media channels
  • Promotion of performances
  • Assuring that jokes are not discriminating
  • Making gags on TV or on radio
  • Singing funny songs
  • Following current trends
  • Researching topics to make fun about

What a Typical Day of a Comedian looks like?

Since there are so many different comedians out there that are focused on different media, it is pretty hard to tell what a typical day of a comedian will look like.

In general, comedians are often pretty flexible when it comes to doing their work.

Apart from some fixed gigs, they are free to prepare for those performances whenever they want.

Hence, if you work as a comedian, you can often get up as early or late as you want and can structure your day in a pretty flexible manner.

You can also work during the times you are most productive and can often also take free days if you have to do things that are more important than work to you.

Consequently, as long as you are really good at what you are doing, you will be able to make money with relatively low levels of effort as a comedian and most of your workdays will be rather relaxed.

Comedian Salary 2021

Comedian salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $125,000> $62.31
Top 25 %$58,000 – $72,000$28.83 – $35.78
Bottom 25 %$27,000 – $32,000$13.37 – $15.87
Bottom 10 %$18,000 – $23,000$8.78 – $11.29
Range$18,000 – $12,000,000$8.78 – $5,965.85
Average (Mean)$45,000$22.37
Median$42,000$20.92

Comedian salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$18,000 – $23,000$8.78 – $11.29
Junior$22,000 – $31,000$10.86 – $15.31
Professional$29,000 – $43,000$14.35 – $21.42
Senior Professional$38,000 – $57,000$18.92 – $28.38
Expert$52,000 – $74,000$25.89 – $36.82
Top Expert$68,000 – $12,000,000$33.78 – $5,965.85

Comedian salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$41,100$20.48
Alaska$39,400$19.61
Arizona$43,200$21.52
Arkansas$44,800$22.33
California$52,300$26.08
Colorado$41,600$20.73
Connecticut$40,500$20.22
Delaware$42,300$21.11
District of Columbia$46,700$23.28
Florida$44,200$22.07
Georgia$41,800$20.83
Guam$39,600$19.74
Hawaii$48,900$24.36
Idaho$39,200$19.54
Illinois$40,600$20.19
Indiana$43,100$21.48
Iowa$41,400$20.62
Kansas$44,600$22.22
Kentucky$38,700$19.30
Louisiana$41,500$20.63
Maine$42,200$21.06
Maryland$47,600$23.74
Massachusetts$48,200$24.08
Michigan$41,800$20.82
Minnesota$42,400$21.13
Mississippi$40,700$20.31
Missouri$40,300$20.09
Montana$42,300$21.12
Nebraska$43,800$21.88
Nevada$48,200$24.06
New Hampshire$43,900$21.92
New Jersey$45,100$22.48
New Mexico$42,200$21.08
New York$56,300$28.09
North Carolina$41,800$20.79
North Dakota$42,600$21.26
Ohio$46,100$23.02
Oklahoma$43,200$21.53
Oregon$44,800$22.31
Pennsylvania$47,100$23,47
Rhode Island$42,600$21.24
South Carolina$43,900$21.92
South Dakota$44,700$22.28
Tennessee$42,500$21.18
Texas$43,100$21.52
Utah$41,300$20.61
Vermont$39,400$19,58
Virginia$41,700$20.77
Washington$46,200$23.03
West Virginia$42,300$21.11
Wisconsin$41,800$20.83
Wyoming$39,900$19.92

Job Security for Comedians

Comedians have pretty poor job security.

In fact, most of them only have short-term contracts and may lose their job at any time.

Consequently, you can never be sure to be able to pay your bills just a few months from now and this constantly high level of insecurity can be really emotionally stressful in the long run.

Future Job Prospects of Comedians

You should also not expect that job prospects get better in the future.

Since almost everyone can enter this field, there are many people who try to succeed as comedians while only a pretty small fraction of people will be able to make a living from what they are doing.

Working Hours of Comedians

Comedians are quite flexible regarding when they want to work.

Apart from their gigs when they have to work at a fixed time, comedians can prepare for their performances whenever they want.

Hence, while experienced comedians will often only work 40 hours or less, newcomers will often have to invest much more time if they want to make a full-time income from being a comedian.

Job Satisfaction of Comedians

While many comedians like the job itself, many of them also complain about how hard it is to actually succeed in this industry.

In fact, many comedians are not happy with their low level of job security and the rather poor money they make.

Promotion Opportunities of Comedians

There are barely any promotion opportunities for comedians.

Since you will work self-employed most of the time, you can only promote yourself and will not be able to climb the ladder as you would be able to do in the corporate world.

Career Levels of Comedians

  • Comedian intern
  • Assistant comedian
  • Junior comedian
  • Senior comedian
  • Senior comedian who can make a full-time income
  • Owner of a comedian network

Fields and Types of Comedians

  • Comedian for live performances
  • Comedian focused on TV
  • Comedian focused on radio performances
  • Comedian focused on social media
  • Comedian with aggressive humor
  • Alternative comedian
  • Comedian with black humor
  • Comedian focused on kids
  • Character comedian
  • Standup comedian

Educational Requirements for Comedians

Everyone can become a comedian.

In fact, you don’t need a degree or other forms of fancy education to be able to work in this field.

All you need is to be funny and you also need the talent to understand what people laugh about in our current state of the world.

How to become a Comedian

  1. Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a comedian
  2. Watch comedy shows at a rather young age
  3. Figure out what makes comedians successful
  4. Make your own comedy performances in your circle of friends
  5. Get critical feedback and learn how to improve your performances
  6. Do some free gigs and see how the audience reacts to your performance
  7. Leverage social media channels to become well-known in the industry quickly
  8. Create your own website
  9. After reaching a certain level of fame, you can start demanding pretty good fees
  10. Always reinvent yourself so that your performances never get boring
  11. Negotiate deals with companies that are most favorable to you in the long run

Character Traits you need for Working as a Comedian

  • Confidence is key
  • Willingness to speak in front of a huge audience
  • Ability to always reinvent yourself
  • You should be curious and accept change
  • You should be obsessed with making people laugh
  • You should not take yourself too seriously
  • Willingness to work hard on your skills
  • Willingness to deal with critical feedback
  • Inner motivation to carry on after poor performances

Hard Skills for Comedians

  • You need to know how to make people laugh
  • Good knowledge of human psychology is a plus
  • Digital skills can help you leverage social media channels
  • Ability to work with numbers helps you stay financially successful as a comedian
  • Strong business skills to expand your comedy business
  • Conflict resolution skills help to calm down the audience after a poor gig
  • Ability to always stay ahead of the game
  • You should have a good poker face
  • Good sense of what is insulting and what is still ok

Soft Skills for Comedians

  • Patience is key to succeed in the comedy business in the long run
  • You should be able to figure out current trends
  • You should understand what drives people
  • You need to recognize patterns and double down on what works right now
  • Confidence to speak in front of a large group of people
  • Ability to deal with negative comments in a proper manner
  • Good time management skills to prepare your gigs in time
  • Knowledge of how to look good on stage
  • Empathy for your audience

Exit Options for Comedians

Comedians barely have any exit options at all.

In fact, most comedians don’t learn many important hard skills and will therefore not find a company that would be willing to employ them in a different field of work.

Consequently, before becoming a comedian, make sure that you want to work in this field for quite a long time since it will be pretty hard to get out of it.

Comedian – Similar Careers

  • Host
  • Moderator
  • Artist
  • Painter
  • Singer

Comedian Career FAQs

Is working as a comedian physically demanding?

Working as a comedian is not physically demanding most of the time.

Instead of working with your hands, you will do most of the work with your brain and your tongue and while many other people who work as welders, constructions workers or roofers will have to lift heavy stuff all day long, you will have a rather relaxed time in this regard.

Is working as a comedian mentally demanding?

Being a comedian can be mentally and emotionally demanding.

Since you will often do your gigs in front of a big audience, mistakes on your side can end your career pretty soon if you are not careful what you are saying or doing.

Consequently, you will always have to worry about those things as a comedian and this can cause lots of emotional stress in the long run.

Is it dangerous to work as a comedian?

Working as a comedian is not that dangerous.

While people who don’t like you may try to bring you down, chances are pretty small that someone will try to attack you in a physical manner.

Hence, while working as a comedian may be more dangerous compared to working in a classical office environment, it will still not be as risky as working as a firefighter or police officer.

How long do comedians stay in their jobs?

Comedians often stay in this field for quite a long time.

While some comedians really like their jobs and can’t imagine doing anything else, others are just stuck in this industry and don’t get a chance to get out of this field and doing something different.

Is it easy for comedians to find a new job?

If you are well-known by the general public, it will be pretty easy for you to get new comedy jobs.

However, if you are still a beginner, it will be pretty hard for you finding jobs in the comedy industry since this space is quite crowded and only a small fraction of comedians really make a living from what they are doing.

Is it hard to switch from being a comedian to another field of work?

Since comedians don’t learn many skills apart from making people laugh, it is also pretty hard for most of them to get out of the comedy industry and to start a career in a different field since barely any other company would be willing to employ them.

Do comedians have a high social status?

Comedians usually don’t have a high social status.

While the best comedians may have a high social reputation, the majority of comedians will not be well-known by the general public and people may rather make fun of them instead of really admire those people.

Can you help out your family and friends as a comedian?

As a comedian, it is pretty hard to help out your loved ones.

While you may be able to make jokes and to help them overcome difficult periods of their lives, you can not help people out in a practical manner as many craftsmen will be able to do by fixing things around the home.

Can comedians work remotely?

Comedians are often able to work remotely.

Apart from their live performances, comedians are able to work from wherever they want and are location-independent.

In turn, comedians enjoy a high level of flexibility regarding where and when to do things.

Is it easy to find a partner as a comedian?

Since most comedians don’t make good money and also don’t have any job security at all, it will be pretty hard for them to find a partner for a long-term relationship since most people who look for dating options search for someone who can provide for them in the long run.

Do comedians have to work on weekends?

Comedians often have to work on weekends.

In fact, most important live performances will take place on Fridays or Saturdays and if you are not willing to work during those times, you may rather not want to become a comedian but go for a different career instead.

Do comedians have to work on holidays?

Comedians often also have to work on holidays if they have a strict schedule and have to do many live performances.

Hence, if you rather want to enjoy your leisure with your family during national holidays, becoming a comedian may not be the right way to go for you.

Do comedians have to work at nighttime?

Comedians also often have to do gigs in the evening or even at nighttime.

Consequently, your schedule will be rather exotic and you should also not strive for a career as a comedian if you want to work in a standard 9 to 5 job.

Do you have to travel as a comedian?

The more popular you become as a comedian, the higher the chance that you will have to travel quite a lot.

In fact, you will have to do many international gigs and will also have to travel to other states to do your live performances.

Thus, while many other people are able to stay at home with their families, you will be away from home quite often as a comedian, at least if you aspire to a career where people should recognize you all over the world.

Are comedian pensions good?

Since comedians often don’t have a fixed income and most comedians don’t make good money from what they are doing, also their pensions will be rather low.

Consequently, many comedians have to deal with financial issues once they get older and quit their active careers.

Are comedian salaries going up?

Comedian salaries have not been going up for the majority of comedians over the past years.

While world-class comedians are able to make really good money, the vast majority of comedians still make a pretty poor income and many of them are barely able to pay their bills.

Can you have a positive effect on society as a comedian?

Since you will speak in front of a large audience, you will also be able to impact many people in a positive way.

For instance, if you are not happy about the current political climate, you can make a stand for a brighter future and can use your public exposure to change the minds of people to the positive.

How long does it take to become a comedian?

While everyone can start out as a comedian in no time since you don’t have to meet any formal requirements, it can take quite a long time until you get to the stage where you can make decent money from what you are doing and it may take even longer until you get well-known by the general public.

Is it difficult to become a comedian?

It is not difficult to become a comedian at all.

In fact, everyone can become a comedian and you don’t even need to finish school for that.

However, please still note that it will be pretty hard to become really successful in this field since competition is fierce and many people try their luck in this industry since barriers to entry are so low.

Do you need to be smart to work as a comedian?

You don’t need to be smart for becoming a comedian.

Instead of having a high IQ, what’s much more important is that you are a funny character and also have good people skills so that you can switch gears whenever you see that your audience is not entirely happy with your performance.

Do comedians have a good work-life balance?

Comedians have a rather poor work-life balance.

Since they will often have to work on weekends, holidays, at nighttime and also have to travel quite a lot, many comedians are away from home quite often and are just not able to enjoy enough time with their loved ones.

Do comedians have to work many extra hours?

Since comedians often don’t have fixed working contracts, they also don’t have to work many extra hours.

However, the faster you want to become famous as a comedian, the harder you have to work and the more time you have to put into your career.

How to maximize your chances of becoming a comedian?

To maximize your chances of becoming a successful comedian, you have to practice from a pretty early age.

In fact, the earlier you start doing comedy performances within your circle of friends, the faster you will become comfortable speaking in front of an audience and the faster you will also get to the next level where you will be able to make money from what you are doing.

Can comedians work part-time?

Comedians don’t have fixed working hours.

Instead, most of them work self-employed and this means that you can decide for yourself how much you want to work.

However, most comedians still have to work full-time to make a living from what they are doing.

Do comedians work indoors or outdoors?

Comedians work indoors most of the time.

However, it can also happen that you have to work outdoors on a stage during one of your live performances and you should therefore be comfortable working both indoors and outdoors before you decide on becoming a comedian.

What does the workplace of a comedian look like?

While some comedians mainly work in the studio and create video or audio work, others focus on live performances.

Hence, how your workplace will look like greatly depends on the field of work you want to focus on as a comedian.

Do you have to look good for working as a comedian?

There is no need to look good as a comedian.

Instead, you should rather be funny and if you look kind of odd, this may actually help you in this business since people may recognize you easier and it may be easier for you to build a strong personal brand.

Is a comedian career beneficial for your private life?

Working as a comedian will not be that beneficial for your private life since you will be away from home quite often and you will also not have a reliable fixed salary.

In turn, it may be hard to find someone who is willing to get into a long-term relationship with you and it will also be pretty hard to maintain relationships.

Do you need a college degree for becoming a comedian?

You don’t need to go to college to become a comedian.

Instead, you can become a comedian without holding any degree as long as you are funny enough that people want to spend time seeing you on stage or on the internet.

Do you need to be certified to work as a comedian?

You also don’t need to be certified as a comedian.

You just don’t need to look good on paper.

What’s much more important is that you are funny and entertaining and also know how to create a positive environment for your audience where people can forget their problems for a few hours.

How much does it cost to become a comedian?

You can become a comedian at almost no cost.

Thanks to the internet, you can now build an audience for free by sharing your work on YouTube and other social media channels and the more you share, the higher the chances that you will finally get famous in the long run.

Is being a comedian a good career?

Since comedians have to deal with a high level of insecurity regarding whether they are able to make enough money to pay their bills and also have to work pretty exotic hours, this job is not for everyone and many comedians complain about their overall working conditions and are not happy with what they are doing.

Is it easy to start your own business as a comedian?

While most comedians work self-employed, it is even harder to start a real business in the comedy industry.

There is just so much free content out there and if you want to charge for your jokes, people may just leave you and go for other comedy work that is still free.

Hence, it is pretty hard to monetize this kind of work, especially if you want to grow a really large comedy empire.

Can comedians teach themselves?

Comedians can teach themselves most things they really need to become successful.

In fact, if you have a certain talent for making people laugh, you can learn everything on the job and don’t need any theoretical knowledge in this field.

Do comedians make good money?

While a small minority of comedians make really good money, the vast majority of comedians don’t make good money at all and many of them are barely able to make a basic living from what they are doing.

Is it ever too late to become a comedian?

It is never too late to become a comedian.

In fact, since the job as a comedian is not physically demanding, you can still do it in your 50s, 60s or even 70s.

What’s more important than your age is that you are a funny character people remember and that you also know how to build an audience fast.

Do comedians have to quit their careers early?

Most comedians don’t have to quit their careers early since their job is just not physically demanding at all.

Consequently, comedians can work in this field for quite a long time and some of them even continue to work once they reach retirement age.

What is the most challenging thing about working as a comedian?

The most challenging part of being a comedian is that you always have to adjust to your audience and that you also have to pick up latest trends to stay ahead of the competition and stay successful as a comedian in the long run.

Can you provide for your family by working as a comedian?

It is pretty hard to provide for their families for most comedians out there.

Since comedians often don’t have a fixed income and also don’t make good money, most of them even struggle to pay their own bills, not to mention the bills of their spouse and providing for their kids.

Hence, if you want to have a family, you may not want to become a comedian but rather go for something more solid instead.

Will comedians suffer from old-age poverty?

Since most comedians don’t make good money, their pensions are rather low and they are also not able to save and invest enough money for retirement.

In turn, many comedians suffer from old-age poverty and are no longer able to pay their bills once they retire.

Can comedians retire early?

Most comedians are not able to retire early since they just don’t make enough money from what they are doing.

Consequently, many comedians will have to work until they get to retirement age and some of them even have to continue working to be able to pay their bills in their 60s, 70s or even 80s.

Do comedians get a fixed or variable salary?

Comedians often don’t get a fixed salary.

Instead, their salary greatly depends on their performance and the more gigs they have and the more things they sell, the better the salary of comedians will be.

Consequently, you will have huge swings in income as a comedian and you should be fine with handling this financial uncertainty for a quite long time before becoming a comedian.

Can you get rich as a comedian?

While there will be the potential to get rich as a comedian, barely any comedian will get to this stage and chances are much higher that you get stuck as a mediocre comedian who will be barely able to make a living from his or her comedy job.

Do comedians need a second job?

Due to the rather poor money most comedians make, many of them even need a second job to pay their bills.

This is especially true for comedians who live in expensive regions of our planet where living costs are high and salaries for comedians are rather low.

Do you get continuous training as a comedian?

Since you will work self-employed as a comedian, you will get barely any training.

Instead, you will have to learn everything you need yourself on the job or by watching other successful comedians and figuring out what they are doing.

Are comedians organized in unions?

Comedians are not organized in unions.

Instead, every comedian has to make sure that he or she negotiates the best terms and that no money will be left on the table.

Do you get paid when you are sick as a comedian?

Since you work self-employed, you will also not get sick pay as a comedian.

Instead, you will only make money if you do your work and if you are a person who gets sick quite often, you may want to go for a career where sick pay is standard to protect yourself from adverse financial consequences.

Do comedians have a high level of responsibility?

Comedians have a high level of responsibility.

Since they can reach many people, they also have a huge influence on society and can make the world a better place by sending out the message that kindness and empathy should be king while everything that hurts people should be considered uncool.

Can comedians work abroad?

Comedians can work in almost all countries they want.

However, before planning to work abroad as a comedian, make sure that you learn the foreign language of the country you want to migrate to so that you can do your performances without having any communication problems.

Is it stressful to work as a comedian?

Working as a comedian can be pretty stressful on an emotional level.

Not only will you have to do your performances in front of a huge audience, but you will also have to travel quite often and have to leave your loved ones at home.

Is it boring to work as a comedian?

Working as a comedian never gets boring, at least if you have a certain passion for entertaining people.

In such a case, you will rather be pumped when you do your performance and there will just be no room for boredom at all.

Is being a comedian hard?

Due to the emotional pressure and the high level of insecurity that comes along with a comedian career, working as a comedian can be pretty hard on an emotional level and you should therefore make sure that you have the emotional strengths to deal with all those issues to stay happy with what you are doing in the long run.

Are comedians at risk of burnout?

Since the job as a comedian can be pretty stressful, you will also be at significant risk of burnout.

Hence, it is crucial that you know how to structure your workday and that you don’t do too many performances so that your body and your brain are able to recover.

Is there a dress code for comedians?

There is no dress code for comedians.

In fact, you can wear whatever you feel most comfortable with.

However, it can still help to wear the same stuff over and over again so that people will recognize your style and you can build a strong brand in the long run.

What kind of comedians are paid the most?

The more live performances you do and the more famous you are, the more you can make as a comedian.

Consequently, if you want to make really good money in this industry, you should work on your level of popularity so that people will be willing to pay lots of money to see your performances.

What percentage of comedians are women?

The number of comedians is pretty balanced between women and men.

In fact, your gender will not matter for your level of success since it will be much more important that you are a funny person who understands human nature well.

Do I need a mentor to succeed as a comedian?

You don’t need a mentor to succeed as a comedian.

However, it can still help to build a strong network in this industry so that you can leverage your contacts and can become popular and successful faster.

Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a comedian?

You will not be personally liable for mistakes as a comedian most of the time.

However, if you are unsure in this regard, make sure to get proper insurance so that you are protected from potential serious financial problems due to your mistakes.

Do comedians have a high life expectancy?

Comedians don’t have a great life expectancy since they often have to worry about their future and how to make money in the long run and this constant high level of insecurity often leads to serious health issues sooner or later.

Do comedians suffer from sleeping problems?

Since comedians often have to work at nighttime, they often also suffer from sleeping problems since their natural sleeping rhythm gets destroyed.

Consequently, comedians are also at greater risk of suffering from physical and mental health problems since good sleep is crucial to stay healthy in the long run.

What states are best for working as a comedian?

If you want to make a living as a comedian, you should choose a state where you can do many live performances while you still want to live in a region where living costs and rents are rather low.

Who do comedians work with?

Comedians work with many other comedians and also often do their performances in front of a large audience.

In turn, you should not be afraid to speak in front of a crowd if you want to become happy as a comedian in the long run.

Is working as a comedian cool?

Many people think that it is cool to work as a comedian.

However, this should not matter for your career choice.

In fact, it is much more important that you think it is cool instead of letting someone else’s opinion dictate your life.

Can you start a side hustle as a comedian?

It is pretty easy for comedians to start side hustles.

Once you reach a certain level of popularity, you can make money from your digital channels and can also sell some merchandise to earn some additional bucks.

Do you have to be creative as a comedian?

You should definitely be creative if you want to work as a comedian.

Otherwise, your performances would be rather boring and you would just not be able to impress your audience and would not become successful in the long run.

How employable are comedians?

Comedians are not that employable.

In fact, the number of successful comedians is pretty low while the vast majority of people who work in this field are barely able to make a living and also struggles to find new jobs.

Are comedians happy with their jobs?

Due to the high level of insecurity and the rather poor money most comedians make, many of them are unhappy with their overall working conditions and secretly think about switching to a different field of work.

Is working as a comedian exciting?

Being a comedian can be pretty exciting.

In fact, you will have to deal with new situations all day long and the more you try, the more new experiences you will make.

In turn, working as a comedian can be pretty fascinating and will never get boring if you have a passion for entertaining people.

What are the pros and cons of working as a comedian?

If you are still not sure whether a comedian career is right for you, you may also want to have a look at the additional pros and cons of being a comedian.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/statistics/613348/best-paid-comedians/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1100394/ranking-youtube-comedy-channels-videos-most-views-france/

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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