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Jerry Seinfeld quotes about comedy success

“Find the torture you’re comfortable with.”

“Your blessing in life is when you find the torture you’re comfortable with. That’s marriage, it’s kids, its work, its exercise. Find the torture you’re comfortable with and you’ll do well. It’s no different than when you’re 30 minutes into a workout. You’re ok. You don’t wanna wake up early, you don’t wanna get dressed, you don’t want to go to work, but once you’re there, it’s ok. Once you get going, it’s fine. That’s life. You master that and you’ve mastered life.”

“Every year get rid of the bottom 10–20% of your work.

Jerry makes his work keep getting better by getting rid of the bottom 10% every year. This means that every 4–5 years he has a whole new act. And it continues to evolve forever. Your work should grow with you. You should constantly be looking to improve. Start with what you consider the bottom 10%. Never settle.

“The funniest part of the joke comes at the end. Always.

Jerry methodically calculates timing in his work. He likes the first thing he says in a joke to be funny right away and for the funniest part of a joke to ALWAYS come at the end. How our work is experienced through time is often forgotten. Think about how you can not only deliver your best work but also deliver it at the right time.

“Once I stepped on stage for the first time, that’s it. I’m now one of those guys.”

Jerry always wanted to be like the comedians he grew up watching. Instead of shying away from admiration, he was proud of this attitude that was a part of his success. Pick the top masters in your field, and follow their example. 

“When I hear a good bit, I think about it constantly. There’s some bits I heard over ten years ago that I still think about at least once a month.”

Jerry picks common topics that he feels have a special twist and tries to plant that twist into his work. If you don’t feel something that’s unexplainable about your work, nobody else will either.

“To me, the funniest things are shorter, so I think with TV series or Comedians in Cars, I have a better chance of making you laugh.”

You might have wondered why Jerry doesn’t do movies. He thinks the size of that content doesn’t lends itself to great comedy. He knows the limitations of his craft and he tailors his work to it.

“That changed my life. I used to wonder, Why am I doing these sets, getting on a stage? Don’t I know how to do this already? The answer is no.”

Ever hear a joke and tell it to every person in your office? The last few recipients always hear the best version and laugh the most. Why? Practice.When you practice something a lot a nerve pathway in your brain expands to contain more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins to shrink back down. Jerry continues to practice his material infront of small crowds before going on tour.

“If you’re doing it for them you’ll be fine. If you’re doing it for you, you’ll have problems. They’ll know it, feel it, and they won’t like it. When you’re making people laugh you feel like you’ve done a nice thing. You come off feeling much more like you gave something than if you got something.”

When you’re doing your best work, it’s an act of generosity. It makes people’s lives better. Keep that in perspective, it’s essential to a long life in your craft. 

“I realized construction workers don’t want to go back to work after lunch. But they’re going. That’s their job. If they can exhibit that level of dedication for that job I should be able to do the same.”

Jerry believes writer’s block is a phony, made up excuse for not doing your work. The way to be better at comedy is to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes is to write every day. It’s the same for you.