Becoming a stand up comedian is a unique career choice, with its own difficulties and rewards. This how to guide will hopefully get you started on becoming a stand up comedian. An obvious essential in becoming a stand up comedian is having a passion to make people laugh. If you lack the necessary passion it will be tough to sustain the gumption to continue performing.
Great comedians often times make their performing look effortless, but for the majority of professionals many hours writing and performing went into the show you are watching. The work of a stand up comedian can be boiled down to three major phases; planning, performing and promoting.
Planning is a never ending process when you are a stand up comedian, regardless of the level of performer. When first starting out, the first thing you need to plan is where will be your first comedy performance. Most major comedy clubs over an open mic night for stand up comics. If there is no major comedy club in your area, check out local coffee shops or bars, these places often have open mics. Besides planning where your first performance will be, the next logical step is planning what you will say.
A good goal for a first time comedian would be to write and memorize five minutes of material for your first show. You may to want to avoid talent shows, or other venues where you would be performing in front of a large group of friends or colleagues. The best environment for a first time performance would be at an open mic, to give you a chance to focus on being a stand up comedian and not worry about impressing your peers. Plan to go up at several different open mics and take advantage of any performing opportunities you may come across.
It's tough to gain any real insight in your first performances; you will need to keep doing shows to get a good grasp on what is working in your act and what isn't. Getting discouraged early on is a common problem, however if you have a real passion for comedy you will stick it out and continue going up as a stand up comedian. If after giving it an honest shot you don't believe stand up comedy is for you, well one more thing checked off your bucket list.
If you continue to enjoy the process of stand up comedy and the act of performing, get more aggressive in seeking out venues to perform. Don't be afraid to ask other higher up comedians if you can go on ahead of them or open up as you become more seasoned yourself. The peaks and valleys never seem to leave the life of a performer, but it seems most stand up comics find that the joy they find in the peaks is worth the trips into the valleys.
There is no soundproof advice when it comes to performing, people seem to develop their own unique style and the most important thing is to try and find your personal voice. The best stand up comedians are the ones that have mastered their "voice", meaning they've discovered the unique person or character that makes them funny on stage.
Now that you've planned out some material, gotten your feet wet performing, the next step is promoting yourself. Social media and the Internet have been game changers when it comes to promoting yourself as a comedian. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are all great ways to promote your comedy and show people what you're made of as a comedian.
The particular venues of promoting seem to change frequently online, so do your best to keep up on the trends in comedy and entertainment. A personal website seems to be a necessity in today's world of stand up comedy. Additionally many stand up comedians have gained added notoriety by creating content uniquely for the Internet by creating, podcasts, blogs or filmed comedy skits online.
Hopefully this guide to becoming a stand up comedian has proved helpful in laying out a few of the fundamentals to this unique career choice. Like everything in the entertainment world there is no exact path, and it's up to each individual performer to find their unique way that works for them. If comedy is truly a calling, you won't end up relying on anyone's particular advice just your own hard work and passion and self belief that you are a stand up comedian.
Sean Green is a fixture in the Los Angeles comedy circuit. Listen to Sean's free comedy podcast The Green Room with Sean Green which features today's top stand up comedians, learn more at The Green Room with Sean Green