A black and white image of a vintage microphone in an auditorium, representing the life of a comedian.

What is it like to be a comedian? How unpredictable is a comedy career?

On Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast, the hosts sit down with Rich Vos to talk about the ups and downs of being a comedian. Highlights from their discussion include booking gigs, changing routines, and getting the best reactions out of audience members.

Learn more about the life of a comedian, according to three who made it big in the industry.

The Unpredictability of a Comedy Career

In the podcast episode “Ep 460 – Snack Pack,” Shane Gillis, Matt McCusker, and guest Rich Vos delve into the life of a comedian with McCusker humorously remarking on the disparities in dental work expenses.

Unprecedented moments like Rich Vos being unrecognized at the airport despite sporting his own merchandise are complemented by Vos sharing his misadventures such as having to urgently discard his undergarments before going onstage due to an unforeseen accident, and suffering embarrassment from visible stains on his white pants during a different set where the audience pointed out his predicament.

Highs and Lows of Gigs

Vos vividly recounts his experiences at the Peppermint Lounge, a venue notorious for demonstrating the stark reality of stand-up comedy when a performer had to face chicken bones being thrown on stage as a form of critique. 

The episode also brings to light the challenges faced by other comedians, as illustrated by the tale of comic Darrell Hammond who, upon asking for more attention from a tough crowd, was met with ridicule instead of engagement. 

This juxtaposition of luxurious tours versus daunting local sets reveals the full spectrum of audience reception and venues that comedians must navigate.

The Evolution of a Comedy Routine

Throughout their dialogue, the hosts explore the process of evolving a comedy routine. They exchange insights on the trials of introducing new material to audiences and the significance of recording sets as a tool for honing their craft, despite the potential for intense self-scrutiny it can entail.

Irreverent events like ‘liquid mischief’ and “naked roasts” are shared, showcasing the comedians’ engagement with extreme expressions of humor, which are as much a part of their development as any traditional method.

Audience Interactions and Reactions

Vos ponders on the altered trajectory that social media might have set for his tenure on the “Tough Crowd” if it had existed back then. 

Anecdotes like the interaction with Patrice O’Neal ribbing Vos about his Porsche and luxury wristwatch on the radio program Opie and Anthony and the subsequent humorous fallout, add layers to the understanding of the comic persona. 

Vos enjoys recalling these interactions, showcasing the resilience required in the industry, especially when facing critical Philadelphia crowds.


Stand-up comedy is a form of entertainment that involves comedians delivering humorous monologues or routines to an audience. However, behind the laughter and applause lies a world of unpredictability and challenges. Comedians face financial instability, as their income depends on booking gigs at various venues such as comedy clubs, theaters, or festivals. The highs and lows of performing in front of different audiences can be emotionally taxing, with comedians navigating the unpredictable reactions and feedback from crowds. Crafting a successful comedy routine is an ongoing process that requires constant evolution and the introduction of new material. Recording sets becomes crucial for comedians to analyze their performances and improve their comedic skills.

In today’s digital age, social media plays a significant role in shaping a comedian’s career. Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube provide opportunities for exposure but also come with the risk of facing backlash from online audiences. Cancel culture has emerged as a phenomenon where individuals or groups call for public boycotts or condemnation of comedians who have made offensive or controversial statements or actions. This has led to debates about freedom of speech versus political correctness in comedy.

Why the Life of a Comedian Isn’t Just Fun and Games

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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