Speaking of hacks, it always makes me sad when people confuse my usage of the word hack with someone who has no talent. Just because you can't write an original introspective joke doesn't mean you're not a great performer. However, there are three main features of hacks you should be aware of so you don't get tripped up.
1. They do comedy you've seen before.
This is the most conspicuous part of the hack. Maybe it's a joke, maybe it's a premise. But they are very cognizant of what's popular and pretend they don't pay attention.
2. They are primarily business people.
Most comedians are ignorant towards the business side of comedy. Hacks see this as an opportunity. Whereas comedians are writing, hacks are collecting and “networking.” It's always good to meet people, but rather than talk about the art they want to make, they talk about the “success” they want to attain and think about how you can help them get there.
3. They protect themselves at all costs.
We all make things about ourselves, but a hack will always surprise you with their tenacity. “Damn, he said he cared about people like me” you'll find yourself thinking. They're very observant performers, so they mimic powerful “I support the little guy” language. But as soon as a little guy gets out of line in a way that doesn't behoove them, look the fuck out. A comedian is able to find humor in any situation but a hack will hit hard without a shred of irony.
I've been doing comedy in NYC for about 14 years. It's a rough business. I once had a booker at Broadway Comedy Club threaten to end my career in front of several comics (lol wait maybe she did?). Oh and she once did 10 minutes on Comedy Central in the '90s and that not only remains her only credit but also her entire 10 minutes of material. I see her in a lot of other people who work in this business. However, I’ve been able to navigate it more easily by staying away from hacks and just concentrating on Facebook.