How to Become a Comedian in 8 Effective Steps

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So, you are always the life of the party making people roll with laughter at your jokes. You enjoy being able to entertain everyone. Admit it, you would love to make comedy an integral part of your life. Becoming a comedian may be the right path for you, but how do you get to that path? You have no idea how to become a comedian. It has always just been something you do naturally.

Stand-up comedy is more than cracking jokes. If you decide this is the career for you, you will have to be prepared to build your show and create a memorable stage presence that people enjoy watching. Also, as with an artist, you must be prepared for a tough uphill climb. This article will give beginner stand-up comedians direction as to how to become a comedian, and steps, and tips to make it.

retro microphone

8 Tips on How to Become a Comedian

1. Get on Stage

There is no substitute for true experience. The variety of the people who fill your audience will change every time you step onto that stage. Obtaining that stage time will help you learn:

  • How to deal with different audiences;
  • What works to get each one of them to be entertained;
  • How to connect.

Comedy is a true learning on the job sort of profession. You will find that you can be prepared enough to deliver your material. But meanwhile, you are actually experiencing a crowd from the stage that will show you how to do it effectively. Every performance will be a learning experience in itself. Take those opportunities to fine tune your act, stage presence, and image. So, when you are trying to figure out how to become a comedian, remember the importance of stage time experience.

2. Take It like a Man

Everyone starts somewhere. When you are learning how to become a comedian, you will not bring down the house every time you get up on that stage. You will have to develop a bit of a thick skin as you are learning your way around the audiences. You will have to try new jokes before knowing how receptive people are to it. Thus, you need to be ready to take a show you bomb in as a means of constructive criticism. Learn from it. Tweak your act and adjust your stage presence. Use that experience to figure out how to handle the situation a bit more successfully next time it arises. Think about how well you recovered and what you can do better next time.

Overall, do not look at it as a discouragement. Obviously, it will be unpleasant. But instead of letting it bring you down, let it encourage you to reassess your act and work that much harder to find success. It is a necessary step in learning how to become a comedian and finding your way to the top.

3. Keep It Fresh

Of course you will always be working on incorporating new material. However, do not forget to keep your old material from getting stale. Take the time every so often to go back over your act. Even if it is working for you, there is always room for improvement.

Look at your tried and true material and see if there is a more modern punchline or new tagline that can freshen up the old joke. This can help you avoid getting stuck in a rut. It can help you get your creative juices flowing without trying to come up with new material out of nothing.

how to become a comedian

4. Thou Shalt Not Steal

There is nothing worse than someone who steals material. Just do not do it. You do not want to be that guy. People will recognize material that another comedian has delivered. Then, you will become an illegitimate comedian in the eyes of audiences very quickly. Do not even rework another comedians’ jokes. You want to be known as a funny, fresh comic, not someone who borrows someone else’s material.

If you think a joke you have sounds a lot like another comedian’s joke- get rid of it. Even if it is unintentional you do not want to risk carrying thief or hack label during your career. Those labels are extremely hard to get out from under and can make it difficult to recover and continue to build your reputation and career. It could ultimately ruin you, especially if the material was from a well respected and loved comedian.

5. Be Aware of Your Slot

While you are learning how to become a comedian, you will have to get accustomed to a time frame. Be aware of the time slot you are expected to fill. This may mean you work something slower or faster, or even rework some of your material. Regardless, if you do not stick to your time slot, it is considered rude and unprofessional. You have to consider the fact that there is another comedian waiting in the eaves for their turn. If you go too long, they may have to cut their own material too short and others have extra time to fill that they did not expect to.

You have also made a commitment to the owner of the venue or talent scout to fill a set amount of time. You couldn’t walk into an every day job and stay a full 8 hours one day but choose to leave only after 5 the next and expect to still have a job. It is the essentially the same for a comedian. If you choose not to hold up your end of the contract and fill your time slot appropriately, you may be passed over the next time you want to book a gig. Even if you are doing terribly and not getting a good response from your audience, you need to fill your time so that you at least show your professionalism.

6. Get an Audience View

Surely you have seen those movies or inside looks at football teams and coaches reviewing their games. They look at plays and fine tune them and see how well they worked, or why they did not. Learning how to be a comedian necessitates doing the same thing. While you perform, have a video recording. You can review it later to see how you look on stage to others. Are you comfortable? Are you entertaining to watch? Or are you stiff and maybe hard to hear?

Use it as your own video playbook. Tweak your performance using it as a way to see yourself through the eyes of the audience. Look for things you need to improve on including your pace, any odd habits you do not notice while your anxiety is running high, and your stage presence. Use it as a tool, but do not over analyze it. Remember each crowd will be different. What worked for one audience can bomb at the next. Plus you do not want to seem overly rehearsed and stiff. There is a charm to the spontaneity and relaxed disposition of a comic.

7. Find Experience with Others

Take the time to watch other comedians. Now I’m not saying to use their material, just learn from them. Get out to open mic nights or comedy shows. See what works for other comedians, what doesn’t. See what you enjoy about their act or stage presence. Do not imitate them but learn from them and their styles.

Another reason to get out to other comic’s shows is that while you learn how to become a comedian, you will want to be starting to build up your network. Connect with promoters, other comics, venue owners, and other people who can help you in your endeavors. It will help you get into the comedy community and even open doors for you.

comediants on stage

8. Make Friends – At First

Many comics have a reputation for insulting and laying into their audience- and succeeding at it. Though you may be tempted to do the same, realize you are just starting out as a comic. Those seasoned professionals that insult their audiences can do so because it is their shtick and they have made a name for themselves.

You want your audience on your side, especially in the beginning. Obviously, if there is someone heckling you from the audience, you should respond to it to some degree. Your main goal is to keep from alienating your spectators and making a connection with them.

To the Laugh

Learning how to become a comedian can seem very daunting. It takes a special kind of person to put themselves out there and take the lumps, learn from them, and improve until you succeed. Realize audiences are different and keep plenty of material handy so that you can adjust to them. Use recordings to review your performance and see yourself from the audience’s point of view. Accept the fact you will not always have a good night and use it as a source of improvement instead of discouragement.

What experiences have you had as a stand-up comic? What other tips can you offer to others? Leave any helpful comments for beginning comics below.