So you want to do standup comedy. You've always been "funny" and love making people laugh, and everyone tells you should have a go at it. Maybe it's even your dream career. Whether you are just looking to it as a side endeavor or seriously as a full time career, here are some important tips on turning your desire into the reality of how to begin performing standup comedy.
- Approach it like a job. Comedy is serious business. Keep a written inventory of your material, not necessarily word for word, but each individual "bit" you do by title at least. Polish your best 5 or 10 minutes of material at first. Newcomers only get a few minutes on stage at a time and on each time on stage you'll want to keep track of the material you do and how it goes over.
- Practice, practice, practice. Tape yourself as you rehearse and listen carefully, and of course, tape your performances. Learn your material forwards and backwards and keep your presentation well paced. One mistake many beginners make when they begin performing standup comedy is they race through their act, either from inexperience and or nervousness. Remember that even though you've heard it a thousand times, it's new to your audience and you must keep it sounding fresh and delivered at a pace they can understand.
- Level set yourself. Most people are not "naturals," regardless of how funny they are. Expect a few bumps in the road on the way to times when you bring down the house. Don't get discouraged.
- Don't steal material. Be original. Many standup comedy beginners make the mistake of emulating a well known or admired established comic too much in both style and occasionally even by "borrowing" material, which is an absolute no no. Be yourself.
- Try to avoid topical material, i.e. current events, news items and TV commercial parodies and such in your material as they lack lasting relevance and you might find what you consider your best material outdated all too soon.
- Stand up comics spend a lot of time waiting around in the back room or at the bar in clubs. Use this time productively, i.e. try to get to know the other comics and learn from them. Whatever you do, don't drink, which can just lead to disaster.
- Don't "step" on your laughs. They're what you have worked for. They say it's all about timing, and this is very true. You must learn to anticipate when the laughs will come and insert appropriate pauses in your act, resuming your delivery when the laughs subside. There is no magic pill for this, though, and experience is the best remedy.