How To Become A Stand-Up Comic

What does it take to break in to the comedy business? Here's tips and advice on how to become a stand-up comic.

If you were the class clown or people have been telling you all your life that you crack them up, then maybe a career in stand-up comedy is for you. A good way to start is to watch other comedians performing their routine, in person, if possible. If not, tapes are a good way to get the general idea of what's expected of you. Not only do you have to be funny, but you have to have a specific routine down-pat. You don't want to be remembered as the comic who couldn't remember his own jokes. Watch the way the other comics carry themselves. Each one has a different routine and image, and you'll want to develop an image that is uniquely yours, not copied from someone else. You can pick up a lot of pointers by watching their stance, the way they look at the audience, how they keep from laughing, and so on.

Write a routine that lasts up to 5 minutes. The jokes and other materials should all be original unless, of course, you're doing imitations. Try your monologue on some family and friends, but remember, people who love you may not be as honest with you as you need them to be. Pick a few members of the family who don't laugh easily and see if they think it's funny. Don't get your feelings hurt; if people don't think the routine is funny, be willing to make changes to improve the act.

When you think you have your routine completely memorized and you're comfortable in front of crowds, try to book yourself at a comedy club when they're having amateur night. Many of these clubs feature amateurs regularly and this is a good way for others to discover your talents. Don't expect everything to go off without a hitch. Some things former stand-up comedians admit to are stuttering or forgetting their opening, tripping while coming on stage, bumping the microphone, or laughing uncontrollably during the routine. A few have even gotten frustrated and walked off the stage. Don't let any of this happen to you, and the best way to prevent it is to practice until you can do it in your sleep.



During the amateur show, listen to the audience. See what jokes seem to be appreciated and which ones just go over their heads. Your audience is the best way to tell if you're funny. Later, drop routines that didn't get big laughs and replace them with new jokes, or fine-tune until the routine is much funnier. Learn to adapt your routine to various audiences. A room full of seniors might not appreciate the same jokes as a room full of teens. Know who your audience will be beforehand and gear the jokes towards that particular crowd.

Learn to deal with hecklers. Not everyone will always think you're hysterical, and occasionally there will be a loud mouth who's had a little too much to drink and makes some nasty comments about your act. Let it roll off of you, ignore him or joke back at him, but don't lose your temper, call him names or get physical. Your career will go nowhere if you get a reputation for beating up the audience!

Most comedy clubs serve alcohol and many a comedian has started out trying to break in to stand-up, but ended up only becoming a regular at the bar. Don't let this happen to you. Try to avoid drinking during gigs or keep drinking to a minimum while working.

Even if you're not discovered by an agent to be the next Chevy Chase, you can still have a career in stand-up. After performing a few times at amateur contests, try to book yourself at area lounges, clubs, festivals and other gigs. Many a huge star began as a stand-up comedian - the next one could be you.

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