Stand-up comedy is one of the most-popular forms of entertainment and if you’re looking to be a comedian, you need to know how to do stand up. It is not an easy art-form to learn, but highly rewarding when you hear your audience laugh at your jokes.
Stand-up isn’t just about telling jokes. You’ll need to spend a lot of time honing your craft. To find out how to do stand up and start your path to becoming a successful comedian, read on for a list of tips and tricks.
1. Do Your Research
There are a variety of types of comedy and comedy-methods. Much like every other industry, you should know be educated about your material. Whether this means attending classes or doing research on your own, you need to learn your craft if you want to learn how to do stand up. Learn about the various types of comedy, how to do them, and more.
In addition, you may want to learn more about famous comedians and why they became so successful. By becoming educated about your craft, you’ll look like a pro on stage.
2. Stick to Your Natural-Self
Many first-time comedians make the mistake of trying too-hard to sound or act like someone they know. As all people do, you probably have a long-list of comedic inspirations. The reason for those people becoming successful however, is that they were original and true to themselves. To learn how to do stand up properly, you should spend some time figuring out what is unique about you and your comedy.
Stick to your talents, give yourself credit where it’s due, and never try to be something you’re not. With experience and practice, you’ll find your own stage-presence, personality, and style. If you try too hard to be like another comedian, your performance will appear phony and forced.
3. Work on 5 Minutes of Original, Funny Material
Stand-up comedians are great at creating jokes and material, and you’ll have to be great at it too if you want to learn how to do stand up. This can be difficult, because all your material must be natural and flow nicely in-order for it to work on-stage. You could watch other comedians for basic ideas, but always ensure your material is original and suits your style.
You may find it difficult to create great material in the beginning. You may find it useful to use your life-experiences as a base, since some of the best jokes surround our everyday lives. Try asking friends if they have funny stories or experiences, which can be turned into hilarious jokes. Most things can be turned humorous, so you have a limitless base to work with. Try to create 5 full minutes of original material to begin with. This is enough for auditions, your first gig, and not too-much to overwhelm you.
4. Ask for Feedback
There will be plenty of times in your comedic career that you think something is funny, but someone else may not. For the most success, you have to find a rhythm of “pushing the envelope” and creating something new, but never pushing too-far. This is why it is essential to ask for feedback and criticism; and welcome it earnestly.
Try your material on friends and family to see if you get some laughs. Their reactions will be a good indication of the joke’s hilarity-level, and they can offer you a boost of performing-confidence. For the best criticism though, try finding the feedback of fellow comedians. Whether you are in a group/class or are willing to perform in-front of another comedian, asking for criticism from another person experienced in your craft is a great way to learn how to do stand up correctly.
5. Find Your Gig and Get on Stage
After you’ve done research, written material, and are ready to try your material out, you need to get on stage. The only way to know if you’re good in front of an audience is to simply do it; take the leap and see how you do. Getting on stage will help cure your stage-fright, and most comedians will tell you that the first time is the hardest.
Try finding a club and booking a spot. This could take some patience, as many clubs may have a long waiting-list or may require you to audition to begin with. Until you have a good reputation as a comedian and have done a few shows, you may want to look for “open-mic night” type events that let you get in the door and show off your stuff.
6. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
Learning how to do stand up involves more than having a natural knack for comedy and the ability to tell a joke or two. Just like any master of their craft, comedians practice; and they practice a lot. You’ll need to have every ounce of your act perfected, from your delivery and joke-quality, to stage-presence and style. This means that your jokes may even become “old” to you, since you should rehearse as much as possible.
Practice saying it out loud and watch yourself in the mirror for facial expressions and delivery. Record yourself and perform your act in-front of friends to help you learn how to do stand up and gain confidence in your material.
7. Play to Your Audience
Comedy isn’t just about what you say or how you say it. It’s also about who you are saying it to and how you say it to them. Your audience is the ultimate factor that decides whether your jokes or set is funny, so you should always remember (even when they’re not cooperating) to keep your audience in-mind.
You should also pay attention to the type of audience you are performing to. Every comedian knows that you must create material that caters to the audience you are performing for, while keeping your personal style and comedy. In addition, it’s important to remember never to “turn” on your audience, as many comedians make the mistake of doing; because that can quickly lead to boo-ing, loss of possible gigs, and more.
8. Always Pay Attention to Volume
Your material and jokes aren’t the only thing you have to worry about when learning how to do stand up. Your stage-presence is just as important, so you’ll want to appear confident. This means always having the proper tone and volume when addressing your audience. You don’t want to yell at them, but you must always speak loud enough for everyone to hear.
If you are performing, try listening to the people performing ahead of you. Listen to the MC or other performers to see how loudly they are talking into the microphone and where they are holding the microphone. This will help you look like a pro on-stage and ensure everyone can hear you properly. No one can laugh if they cannot hear the joke.
9. Never Go Over Your Time-Slot
Once you land a gig, whether it’s in a club, open-mic night, or class, you need to understand how important time is. When you are allotted a time-slot, it is vital to stay within that timeframe. Even if your audience loves you and you want to continue, there are other people waiting behind you to perform and people running the show that want to ensure everything goes smoothly.
If you run over your allotted time, you may not earn the respect of fellow performers. In addition, many clubs may not ask to have you back if you cannot follow simple guidelines. One trick for remember your timeframe is wearing a watch. Many comedians will wear a watch on stage with a vibrating alarm, to alert them when their time is almost up.
10. Don’t Get Discouraged and Learn to Accept Failure
Your parents may have told you when you were young that not everyone is going to like you. That statement couldn’t be truer when it comes to comedy. As comedy is a true, personal art-form, your jokes and style may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Try not to get offended if someone doesn’t react the way you had hoped.
Every comedian has his or her moments of failure in their craft. Whether it’s an audience that turns on them, a club that doesn’t like their style, or a slip-up on stage, you need to know how to handle failure if you want to know how to do stand up. Try to take failure as it comes and use it as a learning-experience to help you hone your comedy routine.
Learning how to do stand up comedy takes a lot of natural ability, practice, and perseverance. For those who are willing to do the hard work, you are rewarded with an applauding, hysterically-laughing audience that makes you remember why you love comedy in the first-place. Follow our tips and tricks on how to do stand up to help you hone your craft and become the best comedian you can be.