Stand-up comedy is one of the most intimidating forms of performing arts that requires hard work and dedication. Just because you think you are funny, you may not be funny enough to have what it takes to become a good stand-up comedian.
Having a good sense of humor is the prerequisite of a good comedian, but some things are to be learned before you step on the stage.
Getting on stage requires writing your jokes, which in turn needs time, patience, and skills. Before moving on to the tips, let’s first know what stand-up comedy is all about.
What is Stand-Up Comedy?
It is a form of comedic performance wherein comedians stand up (literally) in front of an audience and deliver a well-prepared routine consisting of jokes and long humorous stories. Although the style and delivery of jokes differ from one comedian to the other, some features are common.
- A stand-up comedian performs alone as it is a one-person show. If you are more comfortable performing as a team, try improv or sketch comedy.
- Stand-up comedy requires practice and refined routines. You cannot simply ‘wing it’ on stage and need to perform well-practiced routines. Some of the best stand-up comedians in India know how to think on their feet when dealing with hecklers.
- It is a form of comedy that requires true mastery since it is not just about writing good jokes. You need to find your voice and presence on the stage, have perfect delivery time, and recover gracefully when a joke doesn’t land with the audience.
How to Get Started as a Stand-Up Comedian?
There is no straight path to becoming a stand-up comedian. It is not like becoming a lawyer or a doctor. You will need a lot of luck, drive, and talent to make it in the industry. This is surely one of the most interesting careers people to watch out for. So, here are a few tips if you are an aspiring stand-up comedian and want to have an audience beyond your friends and family.
1. Take a Stand-Up Comedy Class
It is not like you will take a class and become instantly funny. It doesn’t work like that, but it is a good start. A good reason to join a comedy class is to learn from professionals in the industry. Being a newbie, you are bound to make mistakes but learning from others’ mistakes is also a good idea.
Knowing the mistakes made by professionals in the comedy industry will help you avoid them. Also, you will be in a community of funny people exchanging ideas and learning from experiences. You will have an audience to practice your routine on before going to your first stand-up comedy show.
Since you can pretty much find everything online, hopping on to an online comedy class is a great way to kick-start your passion for comedy. Learn how to structure and write your jokes, how to overcome stage fright and the process involved in writing a show.
2. Go to an Open Mic
Take your inspiration from Nike and Just Do It. One of the biggest fears stand-up comedians face is the fear of the stage. Going to an open mic will help you test your jokes without the fear of pleasing the paying audience.
You are bound to have butterflies in your stomach every time you get on stage, like many professional comedians, but the chuckles and laughter will boost your confidence along the way. You can easily find local comedy clubs to perform at or you can even go for virtual open mics to practice your routines. Now online audiences might not have the same effect as a live one, but at least you will get an idea about whether your jokes are funny or not.
You will notice the audience is mostly made of other comedians, so it’s a great space to connect with other stand-ups and network for more professional gigs. This way, you will practice your sets and get used to performing in front of people while making connections with other comedians.
3. Find Your Authentic Voice
Since stand-up comedy is the most intimate form of comedy, you need to have a routine that feels authentic. You might feel tempted to imitate your favorite stand-up comedians, but it is not the right way to dive into a comedy career. Reflect on yourself and your own life and bring out what defines you on the stage.
Asking a few questions about yourself can ease the process of finding your authentic voice, which doesn’t exactly have to be the real you but should complement it. For example, questions like:
- How do people see me?
- What stereotypes do I fit into?
- What makes me funny?
- What is funny about the place I come from?
- What is funny about my overall living style?
- What do I think is funny?
4. Start Writing
Stop thinking and procrastinating. There is no day like today, so start writing. If you have taken help from a comedy class, then it’s time to put those lessons to test. Make observations from your surroundings and your own experiences. Question what annoys you and write about it.
Soon it will start taking the form of a joke. You will see your inconsistencies and become self-aware; that is where you will find the joke. Do you justify your judgment of other people or yourself? There is a joke somewhere in that setup. Your jokes can be ironic or self-deprecating, but it is sure to get the audience on your side.
There are different steps you can take to start your stand-up comedy journey but the important step is to start. Watch various comedy shows, read books, make observations, and write jokes every day.
Stand-up comedy is a passion-driven career choice that can turn into an acting career with the right flow. It is for sure among the 10 interesting careers that you have never heard of because of its uniqueness. Life is as serious as you take it to be, so maybe it’s time you take it a little less seriously and kill with some jokes in between.
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