As a comedian, I have been performing for over 2 years now. I have some experience of performing in front of different kind of audiences now. I have performed in front of drunk bar audience, specially-able people, corporate audience, start-up geeks, and theater audience.
I have been in touch with comedy for many more years, at least 5–7, ever since I was working full time and trying to make time for open-mics.
I know a bit about comedy now and this piece is intended to help any outsider who wants to get into comedy and try his hands and minds and legs at being a comedian. You got to learn to stand a while after all, if you wish to become a stand-up comedian. You may do sit down comedy but that makes stand-up a misnomer.
There are a few things that any novice comedian needs to keep in mind before he has been on stage for the first time. I will try to enumerate them below, like it is the trend:
1. A lot of people drop out
I have seen more people dropping out of comedy than join in. Lesser people join in and more people drop out of comedy. It looks easy from a distance. It is not easy. Okay, let me say it. It is fucking difficult. It is a full time job without any profit/salary for the first few years or for many years. You don’t know. I have been in it full time for 2 years and I am still not living off comedy.
It takes a lot to stick around. There is only one thing that can make you stay in spite of the insurmountable amount of failure staring at you-you love to make people laugh.
2. Failure is inevitable
You will fail. I will repeat, you will fail. I repeat again, you will fail many times over. It takes months, sometimes to make one joke. You will write a joke. You think it will work. Even if it works, the first time you do it, it will only give you an idea about the premise, about where you need punches, about where you need to slow down, move fast and so on. A joke is evolutionary. It evolves.
Most likely, you won’t be so lucky and 80% of the joke will fail. You get better at predicting as you move but trying new content is always scary. You have to understand that you have to accept failure if you are to accept comedy as a regular part of your life.
3. Open mics
There is something called an open mic. An open mic is a platform where a bunch of social outcasts like you land up on a regular day evening and think they are important people. They get 5–7 minutes depending on how important they are, to get on stage and try their jokes in front of a live audience. This is the drill. The time they spend on the stage is romantically referred to as stage time, as if it is not obvious. A comedian spends a lot of his life in these open mics, especially if he is a new guy with no contacts to push him in the A league, which doesn’t do open mics.
4. Writing jokes
Funny that it comes on number 4 on the list because this is basic. I have no idea how to write a joke. Frankly, I don’t have a clue. I have tried different techniques like shock, surprise, pattern etc. But, to me, I don’t like to put a joke into a certain technique.
I like a joke to be free. Jokes should be like freestyle dancing. Like you can dance any way you like, you should be able to make a joke in any way you like, as long as it gets a laughter.
5. You need money
Money, you see, is the fuel of life. Comedians are people and we need food, sex, water, and travel sometimes, family that doesn’t abandon us, among other human things. I need money. Give me money. Other comedians also need money. Don’t give it to them.
So, you got to figure out the answer to the question, ‘where is the money coming from while you support yourself while doing comedy?’
As for me, I do freelance research work, writing work and massage women when I am not doing comedy.
6. That you can make people happy
I will tell you something, jokes apart. That we can make people happy through something that we were either given by nature or something we were fortunate to develop, is the greatest gift of our lives. To make people happy is the purpose of our lives. Once we figure how to do that, we need to figure how to scale it up.
Comedy is one of the finest things to do with our lives and that’s why all the pain that it takes to do comedy is fucking worth it. This is my reason. If this is yours too, you will find ways of sticking around.
7. The above is not an exhaustive list
Right now, this is my list. I may be missing something or you may have your own ways. You may differ with my ways and that’s fine. As long as you know why you do something, that’s enough.
I also made a shitty video about how to start with comedy and you can watch it here.
See you around the circuit. If you liked the article, follow me here and subscribe to my Youtube channel.
Thanks for reading.
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