The Key to Success is Faxing: Life Advice from Comedian Eugene Mirman

Eugene Mirman. Source:

You definitely know Eugene Mirman. He is a stand-up comedian, actor, and writer. You’ve heard his voice as “Gene” from Bob’s Burgers, seen his face on Comedy Central, Netflix, and Flight of the Conchords or you maybe even found his podcast from Audible, Hold On.

By pretty much any measure you can call Eugene a success. He’s a guy who has made a name for himself and built a career doing comedy – a notoriously hard field to “break” into.

So how did he do it? What special steps did Eugene take to get to where he is? To help us get our questions answered Chase Jarvis invited him to sit down and talk it over on a recent episode of Chase Jarvis Live.

For Eugene it actually feels pretty straight forward. For him it is all about having an unwavering commitment to his dream, “since I was a kid I decided I wanted to do comedy.”

He never veered from that.

Even when he was broke and spending $40 dollars on sushi (“definitely a percentage of my net worth”) to celebrate a writing gig for VHI that fell through the very next day, Eugene kept getting on stage and writing jokes.

He also kept faxing.

“The key to success is faxing.”

Okay, not faxing exactly but when Eugene started working the Boston comedy club circuit he did everything he could think of to promote his show, but the thing that really got results were his press releases. He’d send out a press release, the publication would send a reporter, and he’d get covered in the local press.

Working up the press release wasn’t hard and it got results, so he kept it up. “By the time I started, other than I knew I wanted it to be a career, I didn’t really have an expectation of this is what it should be, or this is how it would work. And the thing about Hampshire that was great, was that you would basically set a goal, and then you would just do all the stuff you thought you could try to make it work. And then you would do more of what worked.”

There was also that unwavering commitment…

“Somebody asked me what my back up plan was at a college event. And I said that I believed a back up plan was the first step toward failure.”

His reply might have been a little tongue and cheek but there’s an element of truth to it. Eugene had a singular focus on his one big dream and he was willing to make the sacrifices he needed to make to build up to it, “I lived for a long time in a studio apartment.”

When he got tired of being broke he’d find more work and more work until eventually he got an agent. Having an agent helped him go from not knowing where the money would come from to reliably knowing he could make $150 a day, “not everyday, but enough days that I could cover rent.”

It also helps that he is good at what he does, but he doesn’t claim some preternatural gift for comedy. For him, getting good is all putting in the effort. Or as he puts it, “I think it is much more about tenacity and craft.” People talk about talent but talent is really honed through effort.

And effort isn’t something Eugene thinks anyone should shy away from. In fact, he believes in it in a surprisingly endearing way, “I think that I have a very genuine belief in the American dream. I think of it as very practical and reasonable. Which I think also is helpful only in that, even if I’m wrong, the belief that you can do a thing is probably so helpful to doing the thing.”

To hear more from Eugene Mirman, Chase Jarvis, and more of the world’s top creators and entrepreneurs head on over to Chase’s site.

Rachel Gregg