Comedy Competitions Are A Funny Thing

Sore Losers

It’s a new year, and I’ve had a few comedians asking me if they should enter this comedy competition, or submit to that competition. Well, let me save time by telling all of you curious comedians at the same time: A comedy competition is a funny thing.

As a comedian, you really want to win these things. Sure, you tell yourself that winning isn’t everything, and just doing well would be enough. But the truth is you want to win. Badly. So you enter, and one of two things happen: you win or you don’t.

When you win, it’s a validation of everything you’ve worked hard for all these years. It’s confirmation that you have been doing the right things and doing them well. It’s a big dap from the universe to your soul. It’s nice. Trust me, I’ve won a couple of these things.

It’s when you lose that your character is either exposed or refined. Are you the type to throw the blame for your loss on others, insult the competition organizers and attempt to rain on the parade of the victorious? It is so easy to do that, but a professional does something else. A pro reviews their material/delivery to improve upon it for the next time, lines up future work through connections made at the competition and cheers loudly for the winner, with whom they have hopefully struck up a new friendship. Because winning isn’t everything, working is. And working is winning. Grow your network and fill your schedule, then it doesn’t matter that you didn’t take home a trophy this time. Trust me, I’ve lost a bunch of these things.

When I was gigging in Shanghai last year, I learned some funny Mandarin phrases. My favorite was a line you shout at whiny losers: “your vagina is bleeding!” I feel that is appropriate here. Suck it up, sore losers. No matter what kind of day you’re having, your sour grapes only serve to throw up more roadblocks on your way to success.

In the end, judges at comedy contests are trying to put a number to art. And, like all art forms, comedy is very subjective. You want objective? Then comedy competitions are not for you. Stick with playing Hungry Hungry Hippos and counting your marbles at the end of the game to see if you are the winner. You want everybody to win? Stay in kindergarten where there are no losers, and “participation trophies” are handed out to all who enter.

And if you are the type of spaz who would play Hungry Hungry Hippos, not pushing your lever at all, and still complain afterwards that you’ve lost… competitions of any kind are not for you. Clearly, you have both figuratively and literally lost your marbles. Oh, also, 你的阴道出血!

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Sam Fedele January 23, 2013, 4:52 pm

    Like you I’ve come out on both ends of competitions and I have never heard it put so well, win lose or draw, get some work make some friends and on to the next thing:) Great attitude!!

    • Paul Ogata January 23, 2013, 7:24 pm

      Thanks, Sam. We need to do Vegas again. Soon!

  • Perry Chan January 23, 2013, 5:25 pm

    Very well said Mr. Ogata. And _that_ is why your vagina will never bleed.

    • Paul Ogata January 23, 2013, 7:25 pm

      Oh, it bleeds, just not with comedy. You should see me playing Word Chums with my wife.

  • Mark Manderson January 23, 2013, 5:52 pm

    As my Granma used to say – Don’t come home if your second – never saw her again

    • Paul Ogata January 23, 2013, 7:27 pm

      She should have made it rhyme. It seems nicer somehow. “If you finish in second, don’t come home I reckon.”

  • Kenneth Kwan January 23, 2013, 10:02 pm

    But grandma would more likely say “if you come in second, i wont let you eat chicken”

    • Paul Ogata January 23, 2013, 10:13 pm

      Kenneth, if you come in first, would your grandma let you eat liverwurst? I’m not sure I approve of this incentivized sustenance.

  • Josh Nelson January 24, 2013, 12:11 am

    Great article Paul

  • Patrick DeGuire January 24, 2013, 12:42 am

    Well said…In the beginning (for most of us) it is about the anticipation and excitment of performing and making a room full of strangers laugh…It doesn’t take long to fall in love with the craft – embrassing everything that comes with it…whether it is good or bad. What is forgotten at times is that the true beauty of art is that it is subjective. How many times did we feature only to be told that we were funnier than the headliner only to hear someone else telling the feature that he or she should have been the headliner when you were headlining? Be focused on yourself and don’t be concerned about others. It is easier to run faster when you aren’t looking back!!

  • Joe Lowers February 4, 2013, 3:35 pm

    Hello I’m the owner of The World Series of Comedy. Las Vegas’ only Comedy Festival and I want to thank you for a great story. Good job. I know everyone who enters my festival/contest wants to win. What makes me happier are the comics who end up getting work even though they didn’t win. This festival is about helping comics get work and the ones who take advantage of everything going on during the week are the winners.

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