May 4, 2017
This past week, the Career Center hosted a talk by Hamilton alumnus Justin Tyler ’01 in the Sadove Conference Room. He was originally meant to come back to campus in person, but had a last-minute callback for a national commercial and had to Skype in.
It was an intimate discussion with students who are passionate about trying to make careers in comedy, and to see someone who came from Hamilton and succeeded in the field was inspiring. Tyler was at Hamilton when Yodapez was founded and was a member of the group.
He came here planning on majoring in chemistry, never having done any theatre. On a whim, he decided to take a theater class, loved it, and went on to be a Theatre and Government double major.
Having received the Bristol Fellowship, Tyler spent a year after graduation traveling and studying political street theater. He then moved to Boston and later settled in New York where he works with the Upright Citizens Brigade.
Tyler’s story is interesting because he has progressed so well and because he has developed a wide range of skills—something he recommends to people who want to get into any form of artistry.
When he moved to New York, he auditioned for plays and started with the Upright Citizens Brigade. He also started writing comedy. Attaching himself to Upright Citizens Brigade was good for him because it is a place where people are constantly looking for talent. Because Tyler was always waiting around for auditions, he was interested in writing as a way to supplement performing.
Writing for himself, he says, grants him the best ability to perform the role he has written. He has even started a small production company, for which he writes, performs and produces. Besides his own company, Tyler also wrote for Comedy Knockout on TruTV.
Tyler commends Hamilton on equipping him with this range of skills because at a small school he was able to try a lot of different activities and see what he was good at and what he really liked. A lot of the students in the room were hungry to hear how he was able to make it in such a difficult field of work.
He suggested that working a day job and trying to make it is not always the best way to do it, and that furthering your education delays the inevitable of having to audition. So, his advice was to really commit to it and to diversify one’s skills because everyone in the industry is constantly trying to survive.
Another recommendation he made for the aspiring artist was to have a fluid brand. Tyler gave the example that he does not talk about his writing at a commercial audition because they are separate careers to him.
After he finished introducing himself and giving out his initial advice, he opened it up to questions, and that is when people derived the most from the talk.
Since television is such a tight field, it is important to be aware of what is happening in the field you are trying to break into. It is also important, if you are interested in writing, to keep reading.
Tyler’s advice is important to everyone who came and anyone who wants to break into the entertainment industry because he came from Hamilton and was able to do exactly that.
Tyler wrapped up the discussion by reiterating that it is a difficult path to follow, so having support systems is important because rejection is inevitable. He also talked about the importance of being original and writing from a personal place, as is done in improvisation.
If you draw from personal experience, no scene or writing will be the same as anyone else with whom you are competing for a job.