10 Tips for new comedians
Updated: Jan 29, 2019
I made a list of the 10 biggest things I wish someone had told me when I started doing stand up over over a decade ago. Here are a list of mistakes I've made. Ive seen tons of comics make these mistakes as well.
10. Under refining and over rehearsing.
This one is tricky, there is a line to be crossed here. Luckily it isn't a fine one. Its broad, open to interpretation and this is only comedy we are talking about here. Just because something gets laughs the first time, doesn’t mean its done. Every bit should be done dozens of times all sorts of ways and variations, timing, tone. The words used give it a different vibe. What part of my act does this fit best in? All these things have to be fully explored to squeeze every last drop out of a bit. This is the grind. Countless hours spent running to countless open mic’s, trying bits countless ways, countless times. With that being said, once you have it down, its time to move on. You're wasting your own time by continuing to run through a “done” bit over and over. If its done, save it for the show. The open mic is for experimentation.
9.Trying to write the best version of a joke that everyone else in your area is doing.
If Trump said something stupid Monday morning, rest assured every comedian is going to have a bit for it by Monday night. It doesn’t have to be trump, he's just the easiest example. Don’t try to have the best of these jokes. Write something completely different on a totally different subject. Do not be like the other comic’s. Even if your joke is slightly funnier. Being different than the last guy is better than being slightly funnier than the last guy.
8.Waiting till they are on stage to bring up their notes or timer.
don’t waste the comic’s time by waiting till you are onstage to do this. You're basically telling me, you're heads not in the game, and you're not prepared.
7. Trying to be a certain type of comic.
Don’t worry about which genre or category of comedian you fall into or want to be like. The only type of comic that matters is the funny type. Just be yourself, unless you're not funny, then be someone else.
6. Don’t invite your friends to shitty shows.
Bringers are the epitome of this. As you know a bringer is a show who will let any body on stage who will bring in X number of paying customers. These shows are usually stuffed to the brim with comics who just aren't ready to be there yet. These shows usually last way too long and are horrible to sit through. Your friends will not come to another show you invite them to. Your friends are one of your best resources in stand up. Do not misuse them. Only invite them to shows that you know has a great line up.
5. Give yourself plenty of time to grow before you put yourself out there.
Stuff I thought was gold 2 years ago, is embarrassing now, and I’m nearly 9 years in on this. I'm still growing so much as a comic every time I get on stage that I don’t even feel like I’m ready to hit the club and festival scene. Walk before you run, grow feathers before you jump out of the nest.
4. You don’t need a facebook fan page or a website any time soon.
So and so “works at comedian” never got any body booked, or established clout.
3. Don’t write a joke for the sake of writing a joke on that subject.
Especially a rape joke. I hear people talk about rape jokes like its the bar exam. Like you are only a qualified comic if you have a rape bit. No. Don’t even bother.
2. Shying away from what scares you.
Rape jokes are easy to write, if you've never been raped. Write jokes about something you have personally been through. Its not so easy is it? The things that you're scared to tell your friends are the things you should talk about on stage.
1. Running the light.
If you see the light, get the fuck off stage. This is the only real rule of stand up comedy.
Don’t be too hard on yourselves out there, I’ve made all these mistakes and worse. Just keep doing it, if you love it.