Know About Making a Career in Comedy

While Donald Trump may not be tuning in, Saturday Night Live is basking in its highest ratings in more than 20 years. From Melissa McCarthy as White House Press Secretary Sean “Spicey” Spicer to Kate McKinnon as Jeff Sessions as Forrest Gump, the show is on a roll and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon — or at least for the next four years, anyway.

So even if Alec Baldwin just revealed that he may soon be stepping down from portraying the lampooned president, the future — at least when it comes to comedy careers — looks bright. If you’re thinking of trying to break into this notoriously competitive field, here are four things you need to know.

1. You don’t need a degree in the field.

Degrees in comedy are few and far between. And while the value of programs like the University of Kent’s MA in Stand Up Comedy is undeniable (any working comedian will tell you that practice makes perfect), there are also plenty of ways to get the experience you need on and around campus. In fact, taking different coursework — for example, political science studies — can give you upper-level insights….and plenty of fresh material.

But even if you don’t do any of these things in college, you can still pursue a career in comedy.  Rodney Dangerfield, Ricky Gervais, Phyllis Diller, Larry David and Lisa Lampanelli are just a few examples of famous comedians who started late.

2. Extracurriculars can pave the path.

Joining a college sketch group, taking an improv class, and attending comedy performances can all help you start creating and honing your craft. If your college doesn’t have a sketch or improv group, consider starting your own. In addition to building your skills amidst like-minded comedy lovers, you’ll also score extra points for leadership.

An added bonus? As Matt Lappin, segment producer on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” and “Strangers with Candy” writer, told Writer’s Digest, “Getting noticed is a bit of a crapshoot. A lot of it is being in the right place at the right time.”  The takeaway? Because there is an element of luck when it comes to getting discovered, the more you put yourself out there, the more your work will be seen, heard and eventually noticed.