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 Hey there,

This week's email is all about getting your fair share: getting credit for your work, getting evaluated fairly, and getting paid. It's way harder than it should be! In the best of times, it's challenging to advocate for yourself. It's especially hard right now, when so many people are out of work that many of us feel lucky for whatever we can get. 

A skill that I never expected to learn from doing comedy is negotiating. But since every writing gig, brainstorming session, and Zoom show is its own separate thing, I'm constantly having to think about my rate and what I'm willing to do for free. A full day of prep and a two hour show in exchange for a magazine subscription and "promotion to thousands of our social media followers"? Probably not, although I guess it depends on the magazine. A Zoom panel for senior citizens interested in podcasting? Sure, why not? 

Over the last few years, I've semi-regularly gotten emails from college students or recent grads trying to figure out how to have a career in entertainment. I try to always respond, since I had so many strangers kindly do the same for me. (Including the hilarious and wonderful Doug Abeles, who gave me a very memorable pep talk when I was still working as a teacher and he was a writer at Saturday Night Live. Then, in a pure coincidence, we ended up writing together years later and I got to thank him in person.)

This week, I had a phone call with a college student who was worried that having a not artistic day job would hurt her comedy chances. I gave her my standard advice, which is: I don't know anything, everyone's path is different! Please hire me when you are successful. Worry less about getting a comedy job and more about making work that you enjoy and that makes you and your friends laugh. Make sure you put that work out there where strangers can find it, even if that's scary (don't worry about making perfect art, just make it consistently). Be nice to people and reach out to people whose work you admire. Having a day job means you can worry less about making things that make money and more on making things you enjoy and developing your voice. Plus, having work experience makes you unique. Most people are more interested in a comedian who spent 5 years as a long-haul trucker than a comedian who also worked at a production company. So just do what you have to do to pay the bills and find your people and make funny stuff that you know has value. And then, rely on your community and don't be afraid to advocate for yourself. Also, once again, when you are successful, please hire me.

Upcoming Events

- There's less than two weeks left until voting is over. Make your voice heard! Here's a nicely designed and clear state-by-state guide on how to vote.

- Sunday, October 25th at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET
EMAIL PRO. One of my best friends, Ivan, hosts a weekly comedy livestream where he sends emails to strangers suggested by the audience. Ivan's comedy is so funny but also makes me so nervous. Where my comedy is public radio, Ivan's is hard rock. He relishes my discomfort and deliberately makes me squirm whenever I'm a guest on his show. It's so funny. For example, here is a video of him making fun of the photos on my website. I have no idea what will happen on the show tomorrow morning, but Ivan says it's going to be "couples therapy for our friendship." Free on Twitch

- Wednesday, October 28th at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET
HIDDEN EXPERT. I’m hosting the second show of this new storytelling series for LabX and the National Academy of Sciences. More info here.

This week's list

Sohla El-Waylly is an amazingly creative and charming chef. She was one of the stars of Bon Appétit Test Kitchen, but this summer walked away in the midst of a reckoning over how the company treats its employees of color. I'm so glad that Sohla is back and being treated fairly, because she is a star and a delight to watch and deserves to be paid huge sums of money. Her new show Stump Sohla is the perfect quarantine distraction, full of jokes and creativity and drool-inducing food. I loved this episode where she has to create a full tasting menu using only ingredients bought at a bodega. 7-Course Convenience Store Tasting Menu

One of the all-time great jokes is Shane Torres defending Guy Fieri. It makes me laugh every time I hear it. Everything about this joke, from the concept to the wording to the delivery, is funny. Why Does Everyone Hate Guy Fieri? (Bonus: Here's a fun interview with Shane about writing this joke and how he managed to get the chef his fair credit.)

Mattie Kahn, one of my favorite writers and journalists, had a fantastic profile of Billie Jean King for Glamour. It was not only the cover story, but it's now getting turned into a docuseries examining "the influential characters and untold obstacles of female athletes past and present." Women's tennis is one of the only pro sports where female athletes are paid the same as their male counterparts. That's because of a fierce battle that Billie Jean King and the "Original 9" fought in 1970 to create their own tennis tour and make their own money. Listening to King reflect on that success (and her unfinished business) is fascinating. I also loved that halfway through the interview, she paused to ask Mattie if she was being paid fairly for writing this story. No One Plays the Game Like Billie Jean King

Ok, that's it for this week! If you're enjoying these emails, please forward to a friend or spread the word. If someone forwarded you this email but you're not yet on the list, you can subscribe here.

Have a great day,

I'm Chris Duffy, comedian, TV writer, creator/host of You're the Expert, spoon enthusiast, a former fifth grade teacher and former fifth grade student.
Copyright © 2020 Chris Duffy, All rights reserved.

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