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Oliver Graves | California | Be Humble!!

I started doing stand up comedy 5 years ago. I was a performer and a watcher. I wanted something more out of the stage time that others were taking. I felt a lot of comedians were underutilize, re: the fact that an audience was paying attention.

They're giving you everything you want as a performer, their eyes, their ears, their mind. I wanted to give back, give them something really worth seeing on a different level. I never considered comedy a real business. I had always heard that comedians don't make any money. You find out very quickly doing stand up just how true that is. It's a huge time and money sink. You're spending money to get to places for a chance to perform. Being able to flip it around and be the one demanding money? I just had a passion to keep telling jokes whether I was making money or not.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

It's a huge obstacle for a lot of people to get over re: that you are a comedian and you'll be great at it, and you won't even be paid to do it. You're practicing, you're performing for less than the gas money to get to the gig, you have no real reason to keep doing this.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

People will always tell you how you're doing something wrong. They won't always tell you when you're doing something right. When something is working, why would people speak up? It's a weird way to take silence as praise, because as a comedian silence generally means you're doing poorly. Ive learned to play with that so much. There's so much in what isn't said. The emptiness of nothing spoken is often filled with our own insecurities. When you play with it, then you can fill it with laughter. From there you can translate that into a life motto.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

There are literally thousands of comedians out there. They often all have a similar approach, similar look, similar voice. Familiarity is certainly good so the audience can relate. If I did all jokes on zombies and vampires I wouldn't have an entire audiences laughing. At the same time, if you don't stand out, what will the audience take away from you after the show is done? By being memorable and having something so unique you're connecting to people more deeply.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

I wish I had been more synchronized and integrated in my social media and possibilities. I never thought to really have every single one. Yet people have their preferences. As a performer, you can't have a preference to the platform people like to enjoy you on. If they want you on twitter, how would you know if you don't have one? Make one. Make a youtube account, make everything and make them accessible to people. Have it there and check it. It's work, but this is a job, treat it like one.

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?

People tell me how humble I am. I would tell anyone trying to get somewhere to always be humble. I don't know if I can even take the compliment of me being humble. I just see people I want to work with again as a performer and it's the ones who try to make things better for everyone else. There's sacrifice in performing. You're doing this for the people watching. If you're doing it for you, don't do it. Nobody wants to watch someone on a stage that's up there for themselves. Audiences want performers to delight the audience. If you're doing it for yourself, what do you even need an audience for?


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