Tips for writing and performing your own jokes.
Advice On How To Try Stand-up Comedy
Do you want to be a comedian? Read this article to discover 25 things to consider before you try stand-up comedy. You will learn to identify basic skills including how comedians write and perform original stand-up comedy.
This beginner’s guide offers basic knowledge and common terminologies for a growing community of awesome comedians around the world that enjoy these Jokes.ChuckRoy.com/Comedy101 articles.
Here Are Some Basic Ideas To Consider
- What are the basic skills of a beginner stand-up comedian?
- What is the difference between an amateur stand-up comedian and a professional?
- How do stand-up comedians get started?
In this article, I’m going to explain the basic skills that you will need to try stand-up comedy. You can evaluate my stand-up comedy on YouTube, and discover the basic skills of an American stand-up comedian performing in Denver, Colorado.
Chuck Roy | Comedian, Comedy Teacher
Watch Me On YouTube!
You can decide if my comedy coaching and teaching techniques are right for you by reading more articles at Jokes.ChuckRoy.com/Comedy101 or visiting Comedy101, my online comedy school.
Community College of Denver Comedy Instructor
I also teach Comedy at the Community College of Denver where my wicked awesome Dean of the Performing Farts Department asked me to consider ‘competencies’. That is a fun word for skills. My goal for this article is to use plain language and offer basic definitions so that my growing audience of comedians and comedy students in countries like Nigeria, Finland, England, Australia, Russia and Canada can use translation tools, if necessary, in order to enjoy the tips and advice.
Before we start…
If you want to try stand-up comedy then you may have a few questions that are common to many students:
- How do you write a joke?
- How do you turn an idea into funny stand-up comedy?
- Where do you try stand-up comedy?
That last question is my favorite one to help people answer. To successfully try stand-up comedy, you perform original jokes and material in front of an audience. This article will help you discover how to write your own jokes, where to perform comedy and the basic expectations that professional comedians, like myself, use to evaluate new comedians.
25 Things New Stand-up Comedians May Want To Consider
1. Stand-up Comedians perform original stand-up comedy.
Watch “How To Write A Joke”
Comedians are successfully able to write and perform original jokes.
New stand-up comedians should be able to express comedic ideas, some of which get laughs. Beginner comedians may be new to public speaking or the performing arts. A new comedian may try stand-up comedy once and decide to continue performing amateur or professional comedy.
2. Identify jokes and comedy to perform
Do you have ideas for jokes? Stand-up comedians turn ideas into comedy that makes audiences laugh. As a new stand-up comedian you will learn to identify the jokes and comedy that you want to perform. After you try a joke you will learn to evaluate key details like ‘did the audience laugh?’ and ‘how much did the audience laugh?’;.
3. Understand and explain the basic skills of a new comedian
After you perform your first 100 stand-up comedy shows you will have a basic understanding of your skills. If you are performing with other stand-up comedians or artists then you will have a basic understanding of their skills.
The next big step in learning about your skills is to be able to explain them to others. You need to go from watching stand-up comedians on NetFlix or listening to them on Spotify to identifying the differences between your comedy and other comedians art, jokes, performing and business skills.
At the basic level, you need to understand the difference between an amateur comedian and a person that is thinking about trying comedy is that the amateur comedian is actively performing comedy. That’s it.
Either you’re performing stand-up comedy on talent shows, variety shows, music shows, concerts, open mic nights, amateur comedy shows or professional comedy shows or you are not.
4. Read instructions, notes
Are you still reading? Great! A basic skill of a stand-up comedian is to read instructions and notes then apply them successfully.
For instance, if you are lucky enough to live near a comedy show that offers new comedian an opportunity to try jokes then you will need to be able to read and follow directions in order to get to the address of the comedy show.
Comedy shows generally happen on a specific date and time. You will need to be able to read the date and time of your comedy shows and be at the venue and ready to perform on stage.
5. Recite comedy material live on stage
You may fall in love with this part of comedy. One of the major thrills for writers that follow their dream to become stand-up comedians is the instant evaluation of your writing by an audience.
Laughter is the best answer to, “Is this funny?” And converting your ideas into big laughs from audiences is a unique and thrilling reward. I’m so grateful for following my dream of becoming a stand-up comedian.
If you are lucky enough to follow your dream of becoming a stand-up comedian then you will enjoy the big benefit of turning your ideas into giant guffaws of laughter for audiences.
One way that I successfully turn ideas into laughter on stage is continually developing my ability to recite and perform my comedy material in a manner that makes the audience laugh harder than they expected. You will find a lot of joy in learning how to make people laugh!
New Comedians Can Get To The Gig
6. Locate open mic comedy shows
To get on stage I called a comedy club. If you are a young person reading this article then you may enjoy knowing that I started performing comedy in 1992 in the days before Google and unlimited calling. To get started in stand-up comedy you will want to find a stage to perform your jokes. Use the internet and search these common search words:
- open mic comedy show
- comedy shows near me
- amateur comedy show
- comedy clubs near me
7. Ask questions to peers and production crew
New stand-up comedians will find it helpful to be able to ask questions. You may need directions to the venue or advice on how to use the microphone.
The people organizing the show may talk to you. If you don’t understand what they are talking about you need to be able to ask questions.
8. Select a comedy show
Comedians choose to perform jokes live on stage. A basic skill of a new stand-up comedian is to find the available stages for new performers then select the opportunities that are best suited for you. One thing comedians have in common is that we choose to get on stage.
9. Schedule your performance.
A new stand-up comedian can develop the skill of scheduling their performances. Enter the show into your smartphone calendar.
Amateur and professional stand-up comedians can demonstrate a healthy work ethic such as arriving early, well informed and prepared to rock the house with an awesome set.
10. Discover the basics of stand-up comedy
Discovery and curiosity are good qualities for a stand-up comedian. You will want to spend time discovering the basics of stand-up comedy stages near you. Where are the places that you can tell jokes? How can you get on stage? Are there rules or specific guidelines for the comedy shows that you can attend?
New Stand-up Comedians Are Original
11. Express original ideas for stand-up comedy material.
Here’s a big tip from a guy that has years of experience hosting, producing, creating and thriving on open mic comedy shows; it is totally okay for your jokes to fail.
It is totally okay for a new comedian, any comedian, any performer on an open mic comedy show to fail. You just have to keep trying your hardest to deliver funny, authentic, original comedy.
That’s the essence of open mic or new comedy shows…the performers are new so the audience has to expect that.
The advertising should be clear and set expectations.You make a pact with the audience and the art to try to perform original stand-up comedy. If it succeeds and everyone laughs; awesome! If the jokes don’t work…keep trying or get off the stage.
12. Give examples of jokes to perform on stage.
What’s a simple skill for new comedians? Ideas for comedy. Develop an ability to give examples of your comedy. Try posting funny jokes on social media. Create funny advertisements or promotions for your comedy shows. Write funny blog posts. Create a video of your comedy or comedy show. A great way to try comedy is to develop funny social media, share it and gain feedback on your jokes.
13. Perform stand-up comedy for a live audience.
Some students of comedy begin by telling jokes to their friends at parties. They find a comedy class and hope that they will get answers to a key question; how to become a comedian. Get on stage. Tell jokes to an audience. If you live very far from a comedy show then you will have to create your opportunities. If you live near a city search the internet for an open mic comedy show or amateur comedy show. Sign up. Get on stage and perform. That’s the art. Stand-up comedians perform to an audience. How you get there is your journey. Let us know how you did!
14. Write funny jokes.
Many stand-up comedians write their jokes, memorize them and perform them on stage. You can read books or watch videos like this one I created, How to Write a Joke, and learn basic comedy writing concepts.
Or you can draw, paint, tap dance, hunt deer, protest the President or do whatever it is you do to thrive and create art. Stand-up comedy is an open canvas of joke creation.
However, many people I have met keep a notebook full of ideas for stand-up comedy. If that’s you, then keep writing! If writing jokes sounds fun to you then I strongly suggest you do it. I love writing jokes! You can too!
15. Differentiate between an idea for comedy and a funny joke.
After you decide to write a stand-up comedy routine the next thrill that you will enjoy is deciding what material to write about. Once you narrow down your list of ideas you may discover that some of your ideas need conversion into a joke.
If you haven’t tried writing an idea as a joke then get started! Sometimes the biggest barrier between a new stand-up comedian and a person wanting to try comedy is starting your first stand-up comedy routine.
Another key concept of basic comedy writing is deciding when your idea has the right words that will make an audience laugh.
New Comedians May Record Themselves
Many venues, comedy shows and stages will let you record video or audio of your performance. Check with the venue or comedy show producer for any rules and best practices. Here are some reasons why comedians record their performances.
16. Record audio, video or photographs of your performance.
Some of my best friends in stand-up comedy use their smartphone to record audio of their set. Other comedians I enjoy working with record video. Some artists that make me howl with laughter are also great on social media sites like Instagram because they take awesome photos with their audience after their comedy shows.
The reasons so many comedians choose a variety of ways of recording are to improve their performance on stage or at the box office. Listening to a recording of your comedy can help you remove public speaking errors like , “Ummm…”. Watching a video of your performance may help you improve your posture or acting. Either audio or video recordings can help you evaluate audience laughter and satisfaction with your jokes.
17. Assess your stand-up comedy performance.
New stand-up comedians enjoy the basic discovery of getting funnier with every performance. If you decide to pursue comedy set goals and measure your success. Simple skills and goals to evaluate include, “I will perform stand-up comedy more than two shows per month” or “I will write five jokes in the next five minutes.” Evaluate the goal with regular check-ins. If your goal is to perform a certain amount of comedy shows per month then schedule reminder to evaluate the goal at the end of every month. At the end of the month ask yourself, “Did I perform enough comedy shows to meet my goal?” Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ then decided on reasons why you did or did not achieve your goal.
If your goal is to write 5 new jokes in 5 minutes then time yourself. At the end of 5 minutes decide if you’ve written 5 jokes. For example, if you try writing jokes and at the end of 5-minutes you read your material and decide only 3 of the attempts are joke then you need improvement in order to meet the goal. Think about what you can do to be funnier, faster, and try again!
18. Explain your comedy.
New comedians have many opportunities to explain their comedy. First, if you are calling a venue to find out if they have comedy shows you may have to explain that you are new and looking for stage time. If you find a comedy show to perform then you may want to invite friends. They may have questions and you will want to answer them. Expect to answer the question, “What is your comedy about?” Try to create a fast, funny answer.
19. Advertise future comedy performances, if necessary.
If you want to be a stand-up comedian then promoting your comedy shows is a key skill that you will need to develop. Imagine a funny facebook post or tweet about your comedy shows. Does it sound fun to be part of podcast, radio and media interviews? These are common experiences for today’s stand-up comedians.
20. Break down your set list.
This is probably the most advanced skill covered in this article. A big step in moving from your first time performing stand-up comedy to your next comedy show will be reviewing your set list for improvement. A set list is an outline of your comedy act. If you haven’t tried stand-up comedy then make a short list of ten topics that you would love to write jokes about. That’s an easy skill to get started! If you have notebooks of jokes you dream of trying live on stage then break down your content into ten favorite topics or the 10 best jokes you want to deliver on your first comedy show.
New Comedians Are Critical Thinkers
21. Conclude your performance: Funny or not funny?
After you tell jokes live on stage you will have a lot of new information to help you decide how funny you are.
- Did the audience laugh a lot or a little?
- Did your favorite jokes get a big laugh?
- Did your performance meet your goals or expectations?
22. Criticize your comedic capabilities.
Some of my favorite stand-up comedians write and perform jokes at the best of their ability. That’s the thrill in watching them. They are trying their hardest live on stage and after the show by making the critical improvements necessary to thrill the audience. Watching new comedians get better is awesome! If you put the effort in to meet or exceed your goals then you will enjoy confidence in your comedy.
23. Assess your act, jokes and show business skills.
After you perform your first comedy routine evaluate your comedy show. Did the material work the way you wanted it to? Did you tell all the jokes you planned? Were you able to arrive at the venue on time? Was it possible for you to be invited back to tell more jokes? If so, were you invited back? A new comedian has the skills to make a basic evaluation of their art and business.
24. Test, score or rank your performance with your peers.
Did you perform on a show with other artists? Rank your performance with your peers. When you make a list of who was best or who was worst you begin to identify your criteria for comedy. Go ahead and give yourself a score.
- How would the audience score your performance?
- Is there a difference between the two scores?
25. Recommend your act. Refer others to a comedy show.
After you get laughs you may want to build the skill of booking yourself on comedy shows. Learn how to recommend a stand-up comedy act to potential customers. Build the skills that you need to invite your audience to the right gig for their needs.
Teachers looking for a creative tool to inspire students to investigate comedy can build a lesson plan around creating an invitation or advertisement for a comedy show. And new comedians seeking inspiration or courage for their first performance can create an invitation to their first comedy show.
Imagine the fun as you create a space for the name, address, date and time for your first comedy show. Then, enjoy the journey as you successfully fill in the details with the real day and time of your first performance. After, you can enjoy the same thing many comedians like myself enjoy in getting to decide who to invite for a comedy show.
Find out key details like does the venue offer food and drinks, what are the expected costs and who can meet those needs. Then, start inviting that audience to your first comedy show.
New Comedians Make Assess Of Themselves!
An assessment is an evaluation of your stand-up comedy performance. Therefore, when stand-up comedians evaluate their performances they make assess of themselves! Here are some topics that you can evaluate after your first comedy performance.
26. Decide to perform again, or not.
Every stand-up comedian gets to decide if they will perform again, or not. You may try stand-up comedy and fall in love with the artform or chose to never tell jokes publicly again.
27. Compose new, original stand-up comedy routines.
Another decision that you can make is to consider creating new stand-up comedy material. After you perform your first comedy act you may discover that you enjoyed creating laughter with a live audience. After combining feedback from family and friends with your personal review of your performance you may decide that you have plenty of new topics to create new jokes. Enjoy!
28. Write funny jokes. Fix unfunny jokes.
As a comedy teacher, I know that students are successfully learning to create their own comedy routines when they begin to fix their jokes. Every comedian tries jokes that do not work. Some of the thrill in being a stand-up comedian is the excitement of finally connecting an idea to guffaws of audience laughter. While a giggle may be a satisfactory laugh for a certain joke, other topics or ideas may cause you to strongly desire big laughs from the audience. After delivering your most passionate material you may discover that you want to increase the amount of laughs your material is generating. Fixing your jokes is a terrific skill for successful stand-up comedians.
29. Validate the experience of open mic stand-up comedians.
Public validation of an experience is a great form of developing a skill. After you perform stand-up comedy try some easy tasks to validate the experience. Write a thank you note to the venue that highlights an outstanding moment of grace. Post a photo of your performance on social media and discover how professional comedians accept and enjoy feedback from family, friends, audiences and the general public. First time comedians enjoy the validation of completing a goal.
30. Hypothesize next steps for amateur or professional stand-up comedy.
Another experience that you can enjoy is predicting when and where you will tell jokes again. Many comedians share the experience of being eager for prime stage time. What steps will it take for you to become a new, amateur or professional stand-up comedian?
Stop Thinking. Start Performing!
Solve getting on stage or completing a show.
This article delivered more than 25 things for you to consider before you try stand-up comedy. Spend some time, just a minute or two, thinking about each item. Then get started! Get yourself scheduled and booked on an Open Mic Comedy Show.
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