Stand-up comedy is said to be one of the few performance arts that anyone can have a go at. Sadly, many people who are deeply unfunny persist in their dream of being a successful stand-up comedian for years, without either success or the realization that it will never happen. These people are known as cloggers.
1. Write around five minutes of original material that you find funny, and that you believe others will find funny too. Some find it useful to go and watch other stand-ups, but remember that the more you see of how other people approach it, the less easy it is to be original. Ask some friends about funny stories or jokes that they might have, then stretch it a little, make it very interesting. Have you noticed that some comedians make fun of the scariest most embarissing things that have happened to them? Well you can too! There has to be at least a couple of scary moments that have occurred.
2. Find a comedy club where you can book in an open-spot. This may require some patience as some clubs have a long waiting list of acts. If no clubs in town are ready for you, look into schools, talent shows, anywhere that will have an audience. Always tell jokes to anybody even if they are somewhat strangers to you.
For instance, let's say you run into this lady at the supermarket. You grab the same can of peaches or something. Say sorry and try to tell a joke that related to that situation, any joke that comes to mind. Just try to get a humorous vibe with everybody, who knows? That might be a club owner who is looking for comedy acts. So, always keep a positive funny attitude with anybody.
3. Rehearse. Learn your material inside-out. Practice saying it out loud. This may seem uncomfortable at first, but it will help to hear your set spoken out loud. Most comedians try to rehearse alone or with their manager or club owner. Try to stay away from asking your friends to watch you rehearse because then it spills the beans and gives out your comedy act. Practice makes perfect right? Well, perfect practice makes perfect so if you are practicing with little perseverence you might as well not practice at all.
4. Make sure the audience can hear what you want them to hear when you're up on stage. Listen to the MC and the other acts, and note how loud they are, and where they are holding the microphone. No matter how crazy the audience goes, never yell. That will totally get them out of the mood and maybe even hurt their ears!
5. Stick to your allotted time, this will really help you get more gigs. Many comics use vibrating watches so that they know when their time is up without the annoyance of an audible alarm going off.
6. Keep a book with the dates of your gigs, your set list, and how each bit went. The cool thing about having a datebook is that if some club calls you and asks you to do a comedy act with them you can say, "Oh, I'll have to check my datebook." Then they will be like, "whoa they got a datebook, must be pretty sucesfull." See? Works every time, seriously.
7. Re-write anything that you think can be made funnier. Be really critical. If a bit really doesn't work, re-write it or ditch it and write something that does. Repeat this process.
8. Ask for feedback from experienced acts. If you asked for it don't ignore it but remember it is only an opinion. If what they suggest doesn't feel right to you ask yourself why, and use your own common sense to see if their suggestions would work for you.
9. Be prepared for hecklers. Some people will not find you funny, the big stars avoid most audience critics due to ticket prices discourageing the casual dissenter, however they still get soft-hecklers, those who want thier minute of fame. You, the aspiring comic, will have to deal with both soft and die-hard hecklers. This may happen at any time but it is most likely after one of your punch-lines has failed to entertain.
When you are heckled, you can do one of three things. The first is to ignore it and carry on, which is often the most sensible option for new comics, who have no way of knowing whether the audience is with them or not. The second and third are both to make a responce. You may either mearly make a dismissive responce, or attempt to make a joke out of the heckle and⁄or heckler.
Try to avoid personal insults, they don't go down well. The best responces are those that win you the moral victory. Keep retorts short and sweet. If you think of a good one later, keep in for the next time you hear a similar heckle, it is amazing how often the same heckle will occur.
• Be original, never plagiarize.
• Be faithful to what you find funny.
• If they're not laughing when you think they should be, it's usually your fault.
• Courses may help you with things like presentation skills, generating material or even building stage confidence, but they are not a replacement for getting up in front of a real live audience. They can also be expensive and, dependant upon the course tutor, can give you a one-sided view of what is funny.
• If you're worried about new material, bring along a friend to a gig. One you can trust to really tell you what they thought; what you're good at, what you're not, where your material let you down and where you didn't perform the material to it's best. These people, if they tell the truth, are invaluable.
• Have a fun time!
• Just remember that copying people right after they say something is not funny.
• Try and come up with your own style of comedy.
• Start your own open mic or comedy night at a coffee shop, book store or dinner club. Offer slots for more experienced comics to have a place to try out new material. If you are respectful and valuable to headliners, you will get guest sets and emcee slots and free advice.
• Go to the comedy club in your town as often as possible. Always greet the doorman, tip the waitresses well, and if you talk to the headlining comic who is visiting from out of town and you hit it off, ask if they want to see a movie.
• If you're not using it move the microphone stand out of the way. Put it behind you if you can.
• If you are running out of ideas to do for a comedy act try to do cartoon impressions. They are so silly and funny.
• If you aren't being asked to do paid gigs after a few years, try poetry instead.
• Don't get into comedy for an easy route into acting or TV presenting work.
• DO NOT talk incessantly about your "career" when you've only been going for a few months.
• You don't need to perform off stage. You will not impress other comics.
• Shocking does not necessarily equal funny.
• Jokes about atrocities never go over with any crowd. So stay away from them
• Never ever start arguing with a heckler, the best ammo you can give them is replying so ignore them completely.
• Dont pick on an audience member if they havn't asked for it. Humiliation does not equal laughs and the audience will hate you.
• Smile, and have a fun attitude, but DO NOT laugh at your own jokes even if the audience is laughing. You can giggle a little bit, but try not to lose your focus.
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