How a Comedian Makes Money

Laughing all the way to the bank.

Let’s look at the life, hustle, and income of one full-time funny guy who brands himself as the “clean corporate comedian”, Shaun Eli. He makes his cash by performing, writing, running comedy shows, and doing a handful of other things.

You can listen to my full conversation with Shaun right on Apple or Spotify.

Today’s rundown:

  • How to get your first odd job in comedy

  • How many hustles you need to make good cash money being funny

  • How to know you’re funny enough to make it your job

Let’s do it.

It’s Not a Joke. It’s a Job.

Shaun Eli is a full-time comedian who makes money performing, writing, and producing comedy shows.

Each of those hustle categories has many different ways he makes money.

Performing: Headlining shows, theatres, comedy clubs, charity events, corporate events, private functions.

Writing: Selling jokes to three late-night talk show hosts, writing for video games and advertising.

Producing: Shaun runs The Ivy League of Comedy and produces comedy shows for theatres.

How to get started:

“Don’t do it! He says at first. “I don’t want the competition.”

The real answer?

Just start.

Shaun started writing comedy and submitting jokes to the Jay Leno show. He was still working full-time as a banker. Years later, a date recommended he try stand-up. He did and then turned comedy into his career. He kept writing, did more shows, and eventually started The Ivy League of Comedy where he produces comedy shows.

It takes layers. You start, you add, you do more, you hustle, you make it happen - even if it’s odd.

How to know you’re funny enough to get paid:

"Most people are funny but then it dissipates over time because people tell you to shut up. I think comedians are the ones who were too shy to open their mouths and nobody told them to shut up so they eventually started being funny out loud after there were teachers telling everyone else to shut up.”

Skills you need to be a full-time comedian:

“I’m the writer, performer, stage guy, designer, wardrobe guy, bookkeeper, tax guy…..”

At one point, Shaun mentioned he does SEO for his website to get found. Did you ever think a comedian would say they do SEO? It wasn’t a joke. It was for real.

Which reminds us, again, to do something odd means we have to wear a lot of odd hats to make it happen.

Oddest part of the job:

“A lot of my job is publicity and search engine optimizer.”

I thought he’d say dealing with hecklers when on stage. But no.

The oddest part is perhaps trying to get your name out there and convince others to hire you to be funny for their audience.

After spending a few minutes with Shaun, I wondered why someone WOULD NOT HIRE HIM. He’s awesome! But I get it. A lot of getting hired for an unusual job, sometimes, is getting in front of the right people.

You can listen to my full conversation with Shaun right on Apple or Spotify.

What about you? Into this odd job?

Interested in getting paid to be funny?

I’ll be back Friday with jobs available now for people who want to get paid to be funny.

-Jen (odd) Glantz

Here’s what people said last week about whether they’d go rent themselves out as a friend:

Give Your Friends Something Odd

Share this FREE newsletter with your pals so your group texts become unusually interesting.

Share Odd Jobs