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How does one become a stand-up comedian? Do you go up to the most popular comedian in your country and ‘apply’ for the job?
Below are a set of tips that I have come up with from personal experience.
Doesn’t matter what the jokes are, just write them down.
These gigs are like a showcase for amateurs trying out stuff be it music, poetry or juggling. Get on their line up and wait. Try to hold back the nerves and when your time comes, go on stage and perform your jokes.
You probably won’t do well the first time. Or even the 10th or 50th. The idea is to continue doing it UNTIL you get funny. Sounds tough? Because it is.
Everybody thinks they’re funny. So what makes you the funniest person in the room? Your determination to keep at it until you become UNDENIABLY FUNNY!
There is a huge difference between a 5 minute set and a 10 minute one.
5 minutes is like the 100 meter dash. You hit out the blocks and never stop running as hard as you can.
10 minutes feels like a 1000 meter race. You have to allocate your stamina so that you don’t run out of steam too early.
The audience doesn’t care about structure, pacing or technique. All they want to see is someone make jokes that they will laugh to.
Don’t try to outguess, outsmart or even outmaneuver the crowd. They will always outnumber you. Have fun and they will as well.
Always have more than is requested of you.
Someone asks you to do 10? Make sure you have at least 15. That way if one of your jokes isn’t working, you can bail and jump to the next one because you know you have back up.
What does the audience remember after you walk off stage? Your jokes? Great if they do but what they should really come out with is a better understanding of YOU.
Very rarely does one get a platform where everyone is paying attention. Why not talk about things you’re interested in, through your eyes and experiences. Everyone’s got an opinion, so share yours.
Only difference is, it will be funny!
Once you’re ready, go beyond jokes. Tell your story. You’ll be surprised by how many people feel a connection to the things you have to say.
But always remember: make people laugh first. You are after all: A Comedian.
***Header image sourced from Crackhouse Comedy Club KL. Brian Tan’s images courtesy of Tang Chun Cheuh.