Stand Up Comedy Tips

Being a stand-up comedian is probably one of the toughest jobs in the world. Spending days, weeks, months, and even sometimes years perfecting a single comedy routine is a demanding job in itself. Going on stage and moving the audience to laughs can often be even harder.

While every stand-up comedian has his or her own ways of ensuring a successful show, there are a few tips that you may want to try to help your show go even better.

Use Your Experiences As Inspiration for Comedy

You may be the “fiction” comedy lover who likes to make jokes out of completely made-up situations, people, and settings. But many comedians use their personal experiences as the basis for the storylines in their jokes. Of course, not every situation we go through in life is comedic (let alone worthy of producing laughs). But a little exaggeration and a few imaginative additions to our real-life stories can make almost any experience “funny.”

Are you a parent? Then maybe you could build a funny story out of all the foam-padded, childproof-your-house gates, furniture protectors, and floor mats. Do you work with animals? Maybe you have a real-life incident where you were nipped that would make the crowds double over in laughter if you turned it into a story about a maniacal cat that nearly bit your head off because it did not get its hair combed to its liking. Clearly, you get the idea: real life can feed your comedy.

Go To A Club’s Open-Mic Night

Test out your comedy stylings in front of a crowd. There really is no way to know how well you will do as a comedian until you test out some material. While your family and friends may be great – and honest – they may not necessarily replicate the type of audience found in a comedy club or bar. Therefore, practicing in front of friends, family, and neighbors may not really be helpful for testing out your material.

Open-mic night then becomes one of your best opportunities to get on stage in front of a moderate-sized crowd to see if your comedy can (positively!) affect the audience. Of course, prepare yourself – you may not do as well as you hoped (or you could very well be the funniest comedian to go up on stage there that evening). At any rate, you will have been able to get a feel for performing your stand-up routine and may do better in refining your schtick for your next performance.

Develop a Persona

Being a good comedian is more than just telling some one-liners and funny stories. You have to have a persona. Your persona may be a reflection of who you are, or it may be a put-on “character” that you easily slip right into. You might even just go on stage “as yourself.”

Because delivery is often the key to making almost anything great, your “character” becomes important in giving your jokes some life – some punch.

Avoid Being Overly Offensive

While it is true that many famous comedians built whole careers on offending groups of people, it is generally wise to avoid being offensive. Offensive comedic material can include any number of issues and topics, including ethnic and racial remarks, gender and sexual orientation remarks, degradation of religious groups or rituals, belittling of certain jobs and occupations (like lawyers, janitors, car washers), and/or important social issues (global warming, domestic violence, famine).

Watch and Learn

Do you have a comedian you really admire? How about several comedians you like to watch? What draws you so to these comedians? Their style? That may be a few too many questions to answer right now, but the point of asking yourself these questions is to see if you can identify what you think makes a “great” comedian.

Your goal is not to copy or mimic these comedians that you like but, rather, to look at certain qualities that you admire in these comedians and perhaps incorporate them in your own act. For example, do you like comedians who directly involve audience members because you think audience participation really makes a comedian stand out above the rest? Do you believe “sarcastic” comedy is just the tops? Do you like the idea of being the straight man in your own human-puppet comedy act? If these or any other “styles” of comedy are used by your favorite comedians, it might be worth a shot to test some of these elements out in your own act.

….But Don’t Forget Originality!

In the end, your best bet is to be original – be yourself! As trite as that sounds, you will find success will likely come if you become a comedian of your own brand. While many comedians incorporate elements found among other comedians, virtually every great comedian has his or her own “trademark” style.

Your goal is to find your own “trademark” and perpetuate that on stage and whenever you go out to make the world laugh.


Personal knowledge and experience


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