A guide to becoming a stand-up comedian
Stand-up comedy has finally arrived at the mainstream in many countries. Decades ago, the acts were limited only to comedy clubs. But today, almost every club, a bar or a restaurant have a comedy night at least once a week. So, there is no lack of opportunity.
So how does one start the journey to be a stand-up comedian?
There is no school of comedy where you can learn this art. So, we decided to put together a how-to guide to help you navigate the comedy world.
Becoming a comic involves a lot of hard work. Many people believe it is all about listening to a few jokes from one comic and repeating them at another venue.
The number one rule in stand-up comedy is to never steal other’s act. That is a guaranteed career killer.
To get started, first identify a few places in your neighbourhood which host an open mic night. Once you get two or three in your list, find out who are the gatekeepers in the local stand-up community. These are the guys you should never piss off. Stay on their good side and good things will happen to your comedy career.
Keep a paper and pen handy and make a note of what you see in your surroundings, be it a coffee shop or a metro ride. Notice things that could be funny in a context, for example, this one walking perfume factory that you encounter during your ride to work every day and the response people have when he enters.
Comedy is all about observation and putting it in a context. Once you have a few such situations, write your material and rewrite it a few times. Then, it is time to hit the open mic nights. Be prepared to face a bored audience. It will take weeks and months before you see results. The key is to keep rewriting your material and retrying different ways of landing a joke until you get a response from your audience.
Start with a 10-minute worth material and in about a few months you will be able to land most of it. Whatever doesn’t work, strike it off and replace it. Don’t get too fond of your own jokes.
Spend time with fellow comics and learning from them before and after shows. Despite the competing nature, comics help each other perfect their craft. Become part of that culture. Show respect to the hierarchy in place and keep working your material.