Long ago my Dad shared this with me. I found it profoundly applicable in life and suitably fitting in the comedy realm; it’s called “Sunshine’s Law.”

He heard it from one of his college professors, who, in-turn, heard it from a homeless man who was simply named, “Sunshine.”

He said, “Two percent of the people excel at their specialty: eighteen percent are average or just above—and happy being there:

the rest of the EIGHTY PERCENT are on a declining scale of incompetence.”

Think about this little formula.

It’s profound in it’s simplicity and if you truly think about it, it’s not far from the truth.

We see mediocrity everywhere.

How many times have you said to yourself—or to others, “Man, there’s no customer service anymore!”  It seems that it’s a rare occurrence when we actually get good service or kindness or someone going out of their way to make something happen.

Is it because they are in the “eighty percent” category? Maybe so.

I do find that the 2-percent of people who excel in their specialty, drops to 1-percent in the business of comedy. It’s simply because most people see comedy as frivolity and they treat their careers frivolously.

A lot of us got into stand-up because we just didn’t seem to fit in the “normal” world. We wanted to beat the system and what a better way than to make people laugh for a living. Problem is most comedians don’t make a living or make a mediocre living.

Why? Two Reasons:

  • Laziness or
  • Ignorance

Comedy is a business just like any other business and if you learn to treat it as a business, that’s when most of us see successful gains—not only in our bank accounts—but also in our reputations.

How seriously do you take your comedy?

Do you:

  • Set Goals?
  • Write every day?
  • Map out your writing time (at least 1.5 hours 3-4 hours if you’re serious), and adhere to it?
  • Spend a portion of everyday making at least 10 phone calls per day for comedy? (Not just emails:phone calls).
  • Diagram the various ways you can earn money and game plan how to break into that market?
  • Do you have a PROCESS for your writing and your business?
  • Do you have a press kit ready to go NOW? Right NOW?
  • Do you go to mics at least 3 times a week and exchange numbers with other comedians and audience members?
  • Do you never take “NO” for an answer and are you politely persistent?

If you don’t do these things daily or weekly, then you’re not in the 2-percent… and why not? What’s stopping you?

Nothing now, because above is a list of things that I did when I was on the road 38-43 weeks out of each year.

Every day you should have a “To-Do” list of things you’re going to do for your career.  In it’s simplest form it should look like this:

  1. Write 3-10 new jokes (minimum)
  2. Call at least 10 people that could get me work (and ALWAYS, ALWAYS leave a message).
  3. Do a mic or find another open mic
  4. Add another club or booker to your contact or call list.

The list could be longer, but since most comics don’t wake up until at least noon, (if you’re on the West Coast, it’s already 3pm on the East Coast), and your opportunity is shrinking.

But if you did at least 3 of these things daily, then you’ll see your opportunities start to increase week-to-week.

So stop bitching that there’s “no work” and get to work!

Start by setting your goals… Goal number one: “Get myself into the 2-percent!”

What do you do to keep yourself going?

Jerry Corley
Jerry Corley

Jerry Corley is a professional comedian of nearly 30 years, working nearly every venue imaginable.