So you want to be a comedian? Well lucky you, you’re chasing one of the most noble art forms, however fickle it may be. I wish you my very best, and if I have anything to offer you on this journey, it’s five small pieces of advice.
1. Comedy needs patience.
I’ve sure you’ve been told this one hundred times, but comedy, like all beautiful things, takes time to blossom. Each little joke deserves its best chance to become an A+ bit. Trust your instincts. You don’t have to be Carlin or CK, churning out annual specials. Build a set worth watching, and let it take the time it needs.
2. Comedy needs time.
Have you completed your Gladwellian 10,000 hours? In comedy, people generally accept that it takes about ten years to be worth listening to. Use those ten years to tell all your jokes– good and bad alike. Get them out there. Sprinkle all the adjectives and tags on them that you want, but just get them out. Take the stage and delight in a good old-fashioned bomb. Then you can spend the next ten years bombing better.
3. Comedy needs to breathe.
The most beautiful aspect of stand-up is also its most unforgiving: it’s need of an audience. The idea itself is rather flimsy — one person with a microphone in a dark, quiet (hopefully) room. Have faith in your audience and listen to what they tell you. No matter how much you love a joke, you still have to make those strangers see in it what you see.
4. Comedy needs to be interrogated.
In all of your joke mongering, try not to lose site of the fact that these are all little windows into your mind. Make sure you like the picture they’re painting. Take your premises out onto the porch and beat them with a racket. What falls off and what sticks? Holding the attention of a crowd of people is an increasingly rare opportunity, consider using it to tell your true story.
5. Comedy needs magic.
There is no comedian capable of killing in every room. Sometimes your success or failure hinges on the intangibles of the space. The lights, the sounds, the technology, the mood, the waitstaff, even your fellow performers or the mood of a few key members of the audience. Don’t be discouraged when an A bit gets treated like a B or C bit. Offer yourself up to the things beyond your control.
Best of luck, my lovelies. You’ll be great. Make sure you stay a fan along the way and come hang out with us at Stand-Up NY. Seven days a week you’ll see comedians here doing their best– learning, growing, and exploring their worlds. Come explore with us.