Tips for Stand Up Comedy
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
November 12, 2012
Filed Under Offbeat
Contributed by Info Guru Paul Seaburn
Your friends say you’re funny and they don’t mean your looks.
You’ve watched stand up comedians on television and in comedy clubs and wondered what it’s like. As someone who’s been there and done that, I can say it’s one of the best, worst, most exciting and most scary thing I’ve ever done – and that’s putting it mildly. Many comedy clubs have open mic nights where anyone can stand and sweat in the spotlight.
Before you put your name on the sign-up sheet, here are some tips for stand up comedy wannabes to help make the experience less stressful and a little more enjoyable.
10. Have A Routine Prepared
Write out a five minute routine – a routine is a set of original jokes with a beginning and ending. If you have a hard time putting the pen to paper, record a professional comedian’s routine and write it out so you see what it looks like Remember, don’t use anyone else’s jokes – this is for training only.
9. Go For As Many Laughs As Possible
A stand up comedy routine should contain many jokes and laughs, not one long story with a laugh at the end. Review and time your routine and mark where you think people will laugh. Try to get four laughs per minute or twenty in a five-minute routine.
8. Keep It Clean
Anyone can get laughs with four-letter words, but comedians who can get laughs without them are the ones who get invited back to perform again. If your goal is to become a professional comedian, there are many more places to work “clean” than “blue.”
7. Try Your Routine Out On Friends
Find a friend with a good sense of humor who will be honest with you and perform your routine for them. It’s not the same as a comedy club but any feedback is helpful. Take the criticism and suggestions without being offended, make changes and try the routine again on a different friend. Repeat until you have something you like.
6. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
It’s called “stand up,” not “stand and read” so memorize and rehearse your routine until you’re tired of doing it, then rehearse some more. Nothing causes short-term memory loss like getting up on stage – public speaking is our number one biggest fear for a reason. Memory tricks can help – there are plenty of books available with memorization tips.
5. Watch Other Comedians At A Club
Visit a comedy club, both on open mic night and for a regular show, and watch the comedians work. Observe how they stand and how they hold the microphone. Count how often they get laughs and whether the laughs come from something they say or something they do, like a facial expression. Observe how they recover from messing up a word or not remembering a joke.
4. Sign Up
Once you’ve found a club with an open mic night, find out how to sign up and put your name on the list. Ask the club owner or manager when you need to show up and where to go before your time on stage. Make sure you thank them for the opportunity.
3. Bring An Audience
The main business of a comedy club is selling drinks and food, so bring friends to your performance and ask them to spend some money – the club owner will notice. Also ask them to laugh at your routine – laughter is contagious and it will get others laughing too.
2. Get Feedback
Record your performance so you can hear how it sounded, when you got laughs and when you didn’t. Ask the open mic manager for feedback – listen carefully and don’t waste their time making excuses. If you know some of the comedians working at the club, ask them for feedback too. And don’t forget to ask your friends who were in the audience – they may not want to hurt your feelings but any feedback is helpful.
1. Try It Again
Take all the feedback, rewrite your routine and get back up on stage again. Professional comedians spend years writing, rewriting and honing their first routines. Rejection is part of the process so use it as a learning experience. Once you begin to get laughs on stage, you’ll understand why comedians keep coming back.