Hey, I can do that! Or can I? - How to start performing stand-up comedy

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Answered by: Daniel, An Expert in the Breaking Into Stand-Up Category
Stand-up comedy has made a recent resurgence and is now as popular as it ever was. Comedians are more than celebrities now; they are the poet-philosophers of our age. The recent resurgence of stand-up comedy has seen with it a rise in the attendance at amateur comedy open mics and although there are now more aspiring comics than ever, that doesn't mean any of them know what they're doing. If you want to get ahead of the competition, here are some great tips on how to start doing stand-up comedy.



1. Set Realistic Goals

Many of the open mic performers you will see are what we can call "bucket listers" - they just wanted to give this stand-up thing a shot before they died. And it has not worked out so well for them, or the audience that has to sit through their attempt. We all want to be the next big thing but you should go into this knowing that starting stand-up comedy is like starting anything else and requires time and dedication to achieve even modest results.

Before you ever set foot on a stage, you should have made peace with the possibility of failure. Starting stand-up comedy is a process of trial and error, especially when you are first learning the craft. Keep in mind that even the best and most prolific comics have had jokes fall flat. They just don't show those jokes on their Comedy Central specials.



2. Come Prepared

Although professional comics may look like they just get up on stage and start talking apropros of nothing, a comic's routine is actually very finely tuned and exhaustively rehearsed. You are in for an extremely embarrassing lesson if you just show up and expect to get laughs without writing out some sort of act. Take some time to write ideas down and even try some jokes in front of friends before taking your ideas to the next open mic.

Your audience will appreciate the effort as much as you will appreciate the absence of booing or, even better, a laugh or two. If you want to be a comic then you must also be a writer. You can wing it when you try to be funny at a party or a bar, but in front of a live audience you will need to have something memorized and practiced if you hope to have any realistic success.

3. Get to know other comics

You may be alone on stage when you are performing stand-up comedy, but offstage you will have a legion of amateur comics fighting for stage time and original ideas. The best way to start learning is to join that hungry horde of comics. They are usually seated along the back wall at open mics and they will be as eager to talk about performing stand-up comedy as you should be to listen. Like any other profession, networking is essential to success. Other comics will introduce you to comedy clubs you might not have been aware of. They will carpool with you to shows. They might even teach you how to tell a joke.

So whether you just want to start it as a hobby or you are brave enough to dive into it as a lifestyle, performing stand-up comedy is a unique and challenging way to express yourself. Or it can be a unique and challenging way to realize that you really do like your day job more than you think. You wont know until you try.

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