Table of contents
It takes a lot of courage and effort to follow your dreams and stand-up comedy isn’t the easiest path, so are you willing to try?
Be Sure and Prepare
Laughter is what makes people happy. If you take life too seriously, it’s just not going to be a lot of fun. As the comedy and podcasting guru, Joe Rogan once said: “If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe”.
He had no intention of becoming a stand-up comedian until later on in his twenties, and now? Joe Rogan’s net worth just hit over 100 million dollars! His dream has started by accident. Nevertheless, he was preparing for months before the actual performance.
The key to every job is to be ready. Start writing your own material. Try to do it every single day and always try to give it to someone for a review. At first, you will probably be shy so try it with someone close to you – your parents, partner, or best friend. Later on, you can start thinking about extending your audience.
The crucial thing to remember is that you can find inspiration in other comedians but be careful not to steal their jokes. That is a huge mistake that can ruin your career even at the beginning.
How To Start Writing Your Own Set?
You don’t always need to stick to the routine, but it is tested and proven to work. The most important elements are:
You probably know what an opening is. You run on stage, welcome the audience, and start your set. Remember that the opening brings out the character of a show. Try to start with a theme that will say something about your style.
Jokes, bits, chunks, etc. – this is what a set is about. On a first Open-Mic night you will probably have 3 minutes (or less) for that part, so focus on the funniest things you have ever written. It might not the best idea to go with “yo mama” jokes. Be original.
Transitions are these short parts that connect your jokes. Like it was said before, it’s best to have a theme. Jokes that are totally random won’t make the audience laugh as hard. They would probably get a little confused with what’s going on.
Closing is the most important part of every performance. It is the final joke that makes everybody remember you. It may be a callback to a previous joke or something completely new.
It’s always hard to hear criticism, but don’t be afraid to listen to people. Most of them want the best for you. If one person tells you that your joke is not funny – ignore them. However, if five people tell you that your joke is lousy, try to rethink it and maybe change it. Don’t blame the audience. It is true that there are bad audiences, but blaming someone other than yourself is a well-known defense mechanism. Try to reach beyond it.
You have to evaluate yourself after every performance. Each time you fail, you are learning something new. Make conclusions and keep working.
Watch Your Body Language
When you’re on stage the audience sees you in all your glory. It’s not enough to say funny things. You have to act with your body to match your lips. If you go on stage looking sad and tired, you won’t get too many laughs (unless that’s the theme of your set). After all, most comedy is energetic and so should you. Nice clothes will also give you some confidence.
Laugh at Every Subject. NOT.
Whether something is funny depends on who you are, how you are, your charisma and personality, how you say it, etc. Be careful, though! Not all jokes are for everyone to tell. If you are taking a risk and saying something that may be offensive, don’t be surprised that people won’t laugh (and won’t come to your next performance).
Every comedian should be careful with topics regarding violence, race, illness, sex, and gender. It doesn’t mean that you can’t make those jokes. If you feel that the reaction will be positive – do it. It is also safer to laugh at yourself first, and then other people. If you want to see a good example, you can watch Bianca del Rio’s stand-ups. She is the master of offending and making people laugh about it.
Becoming a comedian is not an easy thing. Living out of it is even more challenging. If you are sure that you want to make people laugh for a living – don’t give up. Try to follow the hints listed above and keep getting better. Don’t try to come up with totally new jokes every time you go on stage.
It’s better to grow your set and enhance existing jokes. For every short performance, you can prepare maybe 2-3 new one-liners and watch how the audience reacts. Being a stand-up comedian is about constantly growing and learning things about yourself and your material as much as it is about being naturally funny. Keep that in mind as you chase your big break. Good luck!