How to Get Started in Stand-Up Comedy

by Regi_B

Lots of people think they are funny. The real challenge is standing before a microphone and making people laugh!

So, You Want to Be a Stand-up Comedian

I can tell you first hand, that stand-up comedy is not easy -- but it can be lots of fun!

Getting started in stand-up comedy is not all that hard. The truly difficult thing is being good at it -- good and funny! That takes time, and the dedication to build one's craft.

Today though, we are talking getting you started in stand-up. As I have spent the last year getting involved in my local stand-up comedy scene, I have some ideas to offer you, in the way of beginning in performing comedy before live audiences.

Are you ready? Here goes....

Five Essentials for Starting Out In Stand-up Comedy

Here is all you need to begin your budding comedy career:

  1. A local open mic night.
  2. Jokes.
  3. Courage.
  4. Persistence.
  5. Availability.

Comedy Open Mics

To get your start in stand-up, you need a place to -- well -- stand up! That is what open mics are for!

Be aware that -- though comedy open mics are a rare breed -- a lot of open mics are free-form, which means that while you may see a lot of guys with acoustic guitars at them, comedians are totally allowed to sign up. If you are unsure whether your local open mic permits comedians, just ask them.

Crowds at general open mics are tougher than the ones at comedy-dedicated open mics, but you wanted a challenge, right!

Alternatively, you can do what some local comedians in my area did and start your own comedy open mic. How? Just approach a local coffee shop and ask if they would be interested in starting one. They get a low-maintenance show to bring in customers, and you get a place to do stand-up!

(Just be sure not to charge a cover. The public does not want to pay to see untested comedians.)

Jokes -- To Make 'em Laugh!

Comedy is about making the audience laugh, so be sure to write, prepare, and practice your material.

Writing and preparation is all about honing your material. When I started out, I was too verbose. You want clean set-ups. I am still working on this -- when you are working on a craft, you can never be perfect, but you have to keep trying.

When you write jokes, all you need is a set-up and a punchline -- not some long story. Keep it tight!

Where to practice? In front of mirrors, in your car, before an audience of pets -- anywhere you feel comfortable.

Courage -- A Promise to Yourself

As a beginning comedian, be prepared to bomb. In fact, bombing is always part of the comedic process. It is the reason A-listers like Chris Rock give free shows at clubs when they are working out new material.

If Chris Rock makes room for rough nights, then so should every aspiring comedian. Assume you will bomb early and often.

With that said, all you need is courage. Make a promise to yourself before your first open mic that -- no matter what happens -- you will perform a second time.

That is a winning attitude!

Persistence -- That's How You Get Anywhere!

Nobody makes it in show business overnight -- it is just a fantasy.

Knowing that you are a beginner and that everybody has good nights and bad nights (and that tastes of audiences and producers are subjective), you must carry with you an inner voice that helps you persist -- one that says to you simply, "Never give up!"

Be Available

Very, very few people get by in show biz on their talent alone. You have to be a available, not aloof, not "better than that".

If someone asks you to work the door as a volunteer on open mic night to check IDs, do it! If they need someone to run a video camera, do it!

Do it because soon enough, they might be asking you to do ten minutes in a paid stand-up comedy show.

And the night that happens is the night you get to officially call yourself a professional stand-up comedian!

Updated: 01/25/2012, Regi_B
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Regi_B on 03/08/2012

Hey buttonhead! Thank you for the kind comment, and welcome to the big show here at Wizzley!

buttonhead on 03/08/2012

Good tips with a positive attitude! I like your point about doing research on the open mic. I've noticed that a lot of them tend to be music-focused, and audience makes a difference. Another idea might be to try to organize a comedy-centric open mic night to get the right kind of crowd. :)

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