Making Dreams Come True for Comics and Speakers since 1984
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How to be Rich and Famous - Take the FAME TEST

Do you really want to be famous?

A female comic recently came to me for a consultation.  She had been working the clubs for a long time; she had great material and a unique persona, but she hadn’t been able to get out of the grind of low paying gigs. She said, “I want to be famous. I want my own TV show. How do I get there?”

I actually knew the answer to that -- and not in vague terms either.  I knew EXACTLY what she had to do achieve the kind of fame she wanted, and it would take lot of effort and some cash as well.

I also knew that she would NEVER do what I suggested, even though it would lead to what she wanted, when she remarked, “Wow, that’s a lot of work!”

In my 15 years of working with comics, speakers, and ambitious corporate types, my #1 most frequently asked question has always been “How can I become rich and famous?”  This thought comes up for everyone who has ever picked up an open mic, as well as the stand-up purists who are in it for the “art.”  We seek it and want it, even though we constantly see proof that being famous causes more problems than it solves. But, in the words of my friend, the late comic Lotus Weinstock, “I just want to be rich and famous so I can say ‘Being rich and famous wasn’t IT!’”

(By the way, I know this seems like a setup to sell you a miraculous product that will give you the fame and fortune you think you want, but there’s nothing for sale in this blog.  Sorry. J)

I hear so many people say, “I would LOVE to write a book, get on TV, get paid to speak, and make a living being funny. Tell me Judy, how did YOU get to do these things?”

Answer:  With a lot hard, boring work that most normal people would prefer to avoid.

So, you want to write a book? Really? You REALLY want to spend nine hours a day writing? You really want to give up a year of your life, not going to parties and having fun because you have to sit on your ass ALL day trying to figure out how to string a sentence together so it doesn’t sound like a complete moron wrote it.

You want your own TV show? Really? Are you willing to thoroughly research the commercial viability of your idea and then spend every dime of your hard earned money shooting and editing a sizzle reel instead of buying that new 52” HD TV you’ve been eyeing?

When interviewing the comics in my book The Comedy Bible, all the successful performers, comics, and speakers viewed their careers as real businesses, complete with R&D (Research and Development) and calculations of ROI (Return On Investment).  Some even use project management software to track their progress and keep them on task.  If your business goal is to become successful in showbiz, then writing material, doing open mics, and networking certainly need to be PART of your business plan, but it’s not the whole plan itself.

You can have the fame you want – IF you are willing to do the work and pay the price. Not everyone can.

Do you have what it takes to achieve fame and fortune? Take The Fame Test and find out.


Do you have what it takes to obtain fame and fortune?

Rate your ability to fully commit to the below on a scale of 1 to 5 (1=No, don’t give a sh*t; 5=Yes, I’ll do anything and everything!)

  1. Are you willing to work on your creative project for 8 hours a day for an entire year with no financial results?
  2. Are you willing, at your own expense, to create top quality videos, press releases, and sizzle reels that show off you or your product in a professional and impressive way?
  3. Are you willing to do the massive research required on how to achieve your goals? Who is similar to you? What was their career path? What did they do that worked, and what didn’t work? You might find exciting and enlightening tips on things you can add to your own business plan.
  4. Are you constantly creating new material? If you get famous and just have 1-hour and nothing else, you might get an HBO special, win Last Comic Standing, play a few clubs, and… then never be heard from again. All that work to make $100,000 only to have it end leaves many comics shell shocked from lack of planning.
  5. Are you willing to spend time and money developing and growing your online presence through social networking?  At minimum, you must work the mainstream social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to the max. Here is a link to wiki’s list of global social networking sites. 
  6. Are you willing to drop the fantasy that “Someday my Prince/agent will come with my big meeting”? You have to be the one to manage your career and know what’s going on in your industry and who you should be talking to. Do you know the names of the major behind-the-scenes players in your field?
  7. Are you willing to open up your career to different audiences? For instance, if you study how many female comics became successful you’ll find that most of them got their start by performing for gay male audiences.  Who were the early fans of the performer you most identify with?

Add up your points:  

33+ : You’re On Your Way.

32-28: Half-Assed -- Sh*T Or Get Off The Pot

Below 28: Only In Your Dreams.


Felicia said...

I'm Judy's office manager and let me tell you something... I thought assisting a comic would be a lot of laughing and hanging out. Maybe writing a few emails. What a shock to find that I'm working harder here than I was in healthcare management. Who knew the comedy business would be more labor intensive than trying to find a nurse to work just 8 MORE hours, debating the contractual allowances with insurance companies, and trying to read a doctor's handwriting combined.

Audrey Levy said...

As usual, you're right on the money. Now, I understand why I'm not famous. Also, knowing the pitfalls that you mentioned, it reminds me of why I never tried. There's one factor that counts really big also - LUCK !!! Really enjoy your blogs - look forward to your TV show whenever and wherever it may be. :)

Curtis Kessinger said...

Judy is right on the money with this info. It's called show business for a's 99% business. Creative people often have trouble doing the most important part, which is the business part. Get to work!

Brian Hagen said...

I love being shown the hard, slogging hours behind a dream career, and the commitment and time that will be spent on what you may want to do least. Truly, thank you, Judy, for sharing.

When I lived in New Orleans, my creativity went into living. Moving away, my creativity goes into my comics. My friends have interesting lives, and I'm working and reworking a joke into a new comic strip.

I'm happy with my choice, but it's not "fun" in the way others think.

Brian Carter said...

Love it, great post Judy :-)

Anonymous said...

Looks like it would take a full commitment to succeed.
I'm doing this in my real estate career, but wish that it was in a comedy field. Would love to write comedy material, especially with another comedy writer.
Certainly it would be a lot more laughs.
Judy Factor

Shelley Goldbeck said...

Hi Judy:

Loved this post!

As I see it, this advice applies to any of the performing arts but truly applies to any profession, especially if you want to be a star in your field.

Karen Robertson said...

I took the test and got the results I expected. That's why I'm glad I love doing comedy for the fun of it and have a great retirement. (Of course, $$ is always accepted).

I agree wholeheartedly that your recap of what it takes is not an exaggeration. It is the same kind of commitment required to be successful at any career or endeavor. Hard work, long hours, networking, finding good mentors, capital investment, and lots of education by the experts. That would be Judy Carter, in this case. Thanks Judy

Francesca said...

Judy is one of the hardest working people I know and it shows in her success. But she doesn't rest on her laurels (lovely though they are). I've printed out the Fame Test and put it over my desk at work and at home.

One thing that really stuck out to me was the phrase "your own business plan." I'd like to see a little more about what Judy has to say about that. Or a link back to a previous post on this. Thank you for all that you do.

Sally Baucke said...

Nary a truer word was spoken than what Judy posted. I am an RN, a vocal coach, and I have worked many years to fund my comedy. In other words, I work to work. I spoke for free for years, then for $100, and now for more but not for as much as I will someday. I write new material all the time, work on my book for no pay, and thank my husband every day that he has a good job with benefits which allows me to pursue my dream. As far as fame... you can have it. The only reason I would want to be famous is so I could do cool stuff for other people with my fame ie visit a sick child, pay for a deserving kid's education, make someone's day with a phone call or tickets to my show. That's what it's all about.
Thanks for your great post Judy. Best to you all.
Sally Baucke

Yvonne F. Conte said...

I've been working for 22 years have published 6 books and speak about 50-60 times a year at $6K per. Judy's right - you have to work and put the time and effort into it. Everyone wants to be a speaker or a comic or an author but few want to do the

Anonymous said...

One way to get famous "Do it yourself"
I've been hosting a very funny Podcast with Darren Carter for two years. Before that I had another partner for two years. After all this time , it's starting to pay off. I'm getting recognized on the street and getting gigs from the podcast fans. We just. did it ourselves. Because No one else was just gonna give us a show.
Check it out at

Radical Uterus said...

I know Judy Does not remember me, but she once accompanied me on a bathroom break, while I was participating in a cult business training underwritten by Utah Mormons.

Yep, being successful is hard work.

Scott Wood said...

You said it right Judy! If it's meant to be it's up to me. Get out there and write it. Produce it. Put it up on the internet. Network. No one is going to discover you until you discover you need to be doing it 24/7 365. Make the time for your career!

Randye Kaye said...

Judy - this is SO on the money! This same test works for voice talents, authors, and speakers - (yeah, I do all three, I am certifiably nuts)- I wrote an article for Voice Talents called "The Lana Turner Syndrome: The Myth of Being Discovered" (for VO talents, it's Ted Williams, the homeless guy who got a national commercial after washing a car window and getting on You Tube)-
you rock!
Randye Kaye

Ron Rigby said...

Hi Judy...good article, and what you say makes perfect sense in most any business one would get into. What is also very, very, very important is talent. I believe "real talent" a long with some determination will succeed...most of the time. I read Chris Farleys biography and when it came to running his business, and doing all those hours of hard work, he wasn't really about that. But as pure talent is concerned, there wasn't much better out there than him. In sales they say "the harder you work, the luckier you get". And that makes sense in any business...but in the "talent" business, you had better be very good at what you do, then be willing to put the time in. Or be sooo good that people can't ignore you!

Woodi Bruce said...

I want to write and star in my one-man show on Broadway and call it Woodi Bruce is "Out"-rageous. I know it takes the tenacity and drive to do it and I know there is a lot of work ahead of me and if I sit here and talk about it it will never happen. Thanks Judy

Celebrity Styleaholic Najwa Moses said...

This is awesome! I was just telling someone that I'm giving myself a solid year in comedy-standup but first I want to write a business and marketing plan with milestones.
Do you have a comic business plan template that you are selling? I've purchased stuff with you in the past and would gladly do so again.
Thanks JC (no, the other JC)

Anonymous said...

Spot On! - FOGHORN

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