what the 10,000 hours rule really means: taking lessons in stand up comedy from a nerdy Swedish guy instead of Malcolm Gladwell

My roommate Matt, like me, is a stand up comic. So, when one of us decides to take a night off, the other always tries to inspire some action: “Why don’t we go out and do some open mics?! You need to write more!” Matt always boils it down to: “You’ve gotta get your 10,000 hours, man!” I’ve probably heard Matt say that phrase 10,000 times. He’s really good at it. 

I was listening to a rebroadcast of a Freakonomics Radio episode called “How To Be Great At Just About Anything,” when the guy who came up with the 10,000 hour rule started explaining what it’s all about. And it got me thinking. What does 10,000 hours really mean? In the stand up community, the idea of “10,000 hours” is thrown around like crazy, but does anybody ACTUALLY know what it means? Yeah, 10,000 hours is a number.. .but do you magically become Louis C.K. after you’ve been on stage for that much time? Does it only matter how much time you’re on stage, or does writing count, too? Are you meant to keep track of how many hours you’re doing? Or is it just a big number to use for inspiration? Is it even physically possible?

When we boil it all down, “10,000 hours” really amounts to a buzz word that’s lost a lot of it’s meaning. So this is an attempt to get some real, concrete answers about what it means to get your 10,000 hours in comedy. Starting here:

You ask anybody who came up with the 10,000 hours rule and they’ll say “Malcolm Gladwell.” But they’re dead wrong. Which is why I’d rather take a lesson in stand up comedy from a nerdy Swedish guy named Anders Ericsson. Wait.. .who?

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photographs of the top 10 moments in podcasting history

Ever since podcasting first started catching hold in late 2004, the industry has been booming. In 2013 it was estimated that the number of subscribed listeners passed over 1 billion and there were over 250,000 unique podcasts out there for us to listen to and it has grown since.

Since podcasting is so based in audio, some of the biggest moments in podcasting history are merely remembered as disembodied voices. It’s not often we get a glimpse into the this audio world and to put a picture to these words.

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here’s a Twitter list of 150+ comedy festivals if you want updates on submissions

Here’s a fairly comprehensive list of festivals (mostly in the U.S.) to submit to! I thought it might be helpful if you’re looking to submit videos. If you’re active on Twitter and very forgetful like I am, they’ll literally remind you to submit whenever their deadlines are coming up. If you don’t know how lists work, subscribing won’t make a million Tweets pop up in your feed; it just means that you can click on the list here and there to see what’s up. You can also click on the “members” if you just want to see a straight up list of all the festivals.

Couple other things:

  • This list only includes whatever festivals I could find on Twitter
  • These are only the comedy festivals with their own Twitter page (some festivals are tied to personal accounts or venues – those aren’t on here)
  • These are mostly stand up festivals/festivals where I know there’s stand up. A few are sketch, writing, improv, podcast, etc.
  • Nearly all of these allow submissions, except for some of the really big ones which I included for fun

If you run/know of a festival I can add, please let me know if I missed it!

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the 13.5 best “best of 2016” comedy lists of 2016

There are A LOT of “best of 2016” comedy lists out there – dozens and dozens of them. And with that many, how do you know who to trust? The “best” comedy books, the “best” comedy specials, the “best” podcasts.. .how are you supposed to figure out what’s really important: which lists are really the best “best of 2016” lists?

That’s why I’ve combed through all the 2016 comedy lists to name the top 13.5 best “best of 2016” comedy lists of 2016. This way you’ll know which lists are the most skillfully compiled, cleverest, and most worth your time. I’m not gonna lie: there was some tough competition out there this year. Only a select few made the cut, but what’s here is the cream of the crop. When it comes to comedy, this list is (quite literally) the best of the best!

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all the best free/super cheap comedy shows in New York City, according to comedians

I’m a New York City comedian. My non-comedian friends tell me all the time how they can’t see as much stand up as they want to because “When I go to The Cellar, I spend like $50 every time!” And that annoys me because the same exact comedians perform at free shows all over NYC! And big guests like Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari, and Jim Gaffigan don’t just drop in on club shows.. .they show up at some of these too.

So, I asked 50 NYC comedians which shows were the absolute best free/really cheap shows in the city. If more than one or two of them named a specific show, I added it to this list.

There are already a few lists out there about free comedy shows in NYC, but this one is the only one that.. .

  • is chosen by a bunch of comedians, not a writer/editor
  • is up-to-date.. .as of today, at least (12/27/16)
  • is this comprehensive
  • is listed by neighborhood – there’s bound to be one near you!
  • gives you such juicy links
  • has this Google Maps thing

Even though these (mostly) independent shows are free/cheap, a lot of them allow you to donate money that goes back to the performers. Please throw those comedians a few bucks if you do have the money!

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what i learned from performing stand up in an amphitheater for six Bolivian people – Michael Karlik

I was about one year into doing stand-up comedy. Naturally, I thought I was doing well (I wasn’t). Naturally, I thought I should be on more shows (I shouldn’t have been).

So when the Craigslist post said “Performers wanted: all types,” I responded immediately.

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why puns are NOT funny, have NO place in comedy, and are generally PUNderwhelming

Like any good citizen of the world, I absolutely HATE puns. They’re the worst! Puns are polar-izing; some people love them, but others can’t bear them. I must admit, sometimes puns are written so beautifully that they are awe-ful. But, when it comes down to it, puns are deplorable and everyone should think so. The only people who like them are old wheelchair-bound vegetables; when it comes to puns, no one else will carrot all. Please humor me and just stop telling those puns!

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the REAL secret to stand up comedy? there ain’t none! except for handshakes – Tim Unkenholz

Comedy truly goes hand in hand with handshakes. What is laughter, really, but an audience shaking hands with the comedian, with their mouths? Here we’ll talk about the most important part of any stand up comedy scene — the ritualistic devotion to grabbing each other’s hands as a sign of respect. It’s why stand up comedy is often called a “hand job.”

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this is why Louis C.K. HATES clickbait

I mean, I’m guessing it’s pretty much the same reason why everybody hates clickbait?

There’s no content or anything with clickbait. It’s just to get clicks. Nobody likes clickbait, so why would Louis C.K.?

I didn’t do much research for this.. .I just kinda went on a hunch.


This article was written by Stu Melton, a NYC comedian and creator of ACN. You can find him on twitter @tellsjokes.

The featured image is a photo taken by David Shankbone.

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