I am a stand-up comedian you've never heard of, and in all likeliness will never hear from again. I've been performing on the "circuit" for more than four years, and in that time I have probably made a grand total of 12 free pints of beer and once a night's stay in the Peterborough Travelodge.
This is not uncommon. In the beginning, earning any money from stand-up is impossible, so for many advertising is an obvious choice for a way to make ends meet. There's a lot of crossover of skills: in particular the need to churn out material even if you think some of it is terrible. Everyone from Jimmy Carr to Noel Fielding started their careers in advertising before they made it big and never had to get up before 2pm again.
But advertising has changed. These days most people sell things to you via viral marketing and social media, so the jobs that the next generation of comics are doing to make ends meet are also changing. Now, if you tweet your favourite burrito manufacturer about how farty their product made you, it could be a future star of Live at the Apollo writing back.
In my case, I spent two years running the social media accounts for KFC. If anyone from the UK or Ireland wanted to rant about their cold chicken or send Colonel Sanders a picture of their cat (one man did this everyday for 6 months) then I was the man who replied.
Running the social media account of a brand like that is essentially catfishing the world. People would log on and think they were chatting to a smiling, southern Colonel, when in actual fact it was just me on Tweetdeck trying to find new ways to say, "I'm sorry to hear that". When a 12-year-old child was DMing me about how excited they were to come and visit me later, it was hard not to feel like an online predator.
Mostly though, people just care way too much about fried chicken. I once received tweet that read, "what I got from KFC last night wasn't chicken, it was a fucking disgrace. #cunts #wankers #neveragain #motherfuckers." I was hired to to write witty responses to things that people wrote, but it's very hard to find something humorous to say to that.
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