The life of a stand-up comedian is nothing like the life of a lottery winner, and is one full of late nights spent hanging out at the club or bar where they performed and eating really unhealthy food because they don't have time to hit up a five star gourmet restaurant. In fact, a private investigator may argue the late nights and struggling finances are more in line with their career. The reason why that is has to do with the fact that to have a career in stand-up comedy you have to take to the road many nights of the year and that can at times be a very lonely and solitary lifestyle; kind of like working in an warehouse space that only has one employee.
Nobody ever said the life of a stand-up comedian is glamorous and stand-up comedy road tours most certainly do not make stand-up comedy any more appealing. If you really want to know what it's like to be a stand-up comedian then let us paint you a little picture of such a life.
If you're an established comedian that can bring seats to any comedy club then you're asked to perform regularly. The clubs that want you can be located anywhere and if you want to get your name out there you have to go to them. That means if one night you find yourself in Detroit and you're asked to do a set in Mississauga you have to find a way to get yourself from Detroit to Mississauga. You're also going to have to fend for yourself on the road, which means covering the travelling expenses you're going to accrue, eating late night meals at fast food joints, and trying to find a place to crash during the time you're not on stage. You don't need to do anything crazy like hire a real estate agent to help you buy a house but you're going to have to book a hotel room so that you can get some rest when you're not telling jokes.
Whatever down time you have in between sets and travel is usually spent watching the routines of fellow stand-up comedians, honing your current act, whether it's about how to buy landscape photography or what makes athletes boring, and jazz up what isn't working and polish up the parts that do. Then the rest of your time is spent catching up on sleep. Driving from town to town in order to do the one thing you love, which is tell jokes, to a room, hopefully, full of strangers, can get tiring. You never know when you'll get a chance to rest, and it might only happen during a drive to another gig, which means having to pull over and taking a nap in your car.
Many stand-up comedy enthusiasts who dream of becoming the next Chris Rock or Louis C.K. only see the rewards those comedians have been getting recently. While they may have hit movies and TV show credits to their name they spent many years on the road performing just like any other stand-up. In order to see the fruits of your labor you have to be willing to put in the hard work required to become a successful stand-up comedian. If you don't you're left with a notebook full of potential jokes on war or paintings of cows that don't go anywhere.