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Comedians: How do you break out of 'the middle'?

Comedian Rojo Perez

Comedian Rojo Perez (Photo: Mindy Tucker)

A year ago, I was positive that my web series, Sunken City, was going to get picked up. Every week, we were releasing new episodes to a growing body of fans, with press referring to the series as “The New Portlandia.” And then...nothing happened. The project ended. People patted us on the back and asked ‘So what are you making next?’

When projects like this don’t pan out the way I dreamed they would, I’m quick to become frustrated. It’s an entitled type of anger -- as if having talent and working hard means I’m automatically ready for the next level. And then I remember the words of New York-based standup Rojo Perez, “When you’re a comedian, most of what you do is fail.” It’s a strangely comforting reminder of what an incredibly long marathon any career in comedy is.

In my opinion, Rojo Perez is one of the best up-and-coming comics around. He has been featured at festivals like the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and the New York Comedy Festival. He has built a name for himself on the New York indie comedy scene, regularly appearing at The Creek and The Cave and co-hosting the weekly CSL show at Kabin bar. Yet for Rojo, there is this nagging tension: How long will he be an ‘up-and-coming’ comic?

He falls in that amorphous middle zone where he is good enough to get booked on high profile stand-up shows, yet he is still somehow out of the reach of agents and TV credits. How does a talented comedian like Rojo escape the anonymity and stagnance of that middle zone? Rojo joins us for episode 5 of #TheEarlyDraft podcast to talk about trust, work ethic, and the lessons and pitfalls of reaching for the next level.

Follow Rojo on Twitter at @elrojoperez. See him perform live every week in New York City.
Mondays: Pig Pony Show at Leftfield Bar, 8:00 p.m. 
Thursdays: Comedy as a Second Language at Kabin Bar & Lounge, 9:30 p.m.

CJ Hunt is a comedy writer and performer living in New Orleans. His NolaVie blog and personal brand, The Early Draft, is dedicated to comedians-in-the-making. It’s a look into the career decisions and creative processes of funny people chasing the dream. You will hear from comedians with big names. And those with names you haven’t heard of…yet. Check back each week for a look into that weird cluttered back-room workshop where comedians are made. Watch CJ work at GOcjhunt.com. Follow him on Twitter @gocjhunt.