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How to Be a Stand-Up Comedian

Comedy Mask

You think you’re funny, do you? You think you’re so funny, you think you should have your own show. Before that happens, take your act to the stage first. Here are a few tips on becoming a stand up comedian. First of all, it takes a LOT of guts to go up on stage with the goal of making every person in the room laugh. You’re not going for a snicker or a giggle. You’re going for a ROTFL and that’s way far from easy.

Observe. Learn how the experts do it. There’s a lot of DVDs of stand up acts by the greatest comedians. Learn how they approach a joke, deliver a punchline and work a crowd.

Write the funniest material you can think of. Funny has changed and what makes people laugh now is different from what made people laugh back then. Your natural humor is your wellspring of what’s funny, so nurture it and be witty. There are a lot of smart people in the audience who won’t budge on slapstick humor.

Practice your material. Once you have finished writing your script, you should practice your delivery. Remember that in comedy, timing is everything. So make sure your punch lines are not wasted due to bad intonation, low voice volume, and bad timing. You also need to master your ad-lib. This will save you from an impending embarrassment when you forget your lines. If you know how to ad-lib, you’ll be more confident, knowing that you can always think up of something if you forget your script.

Be prepared. Aspiring to be a comedian is not a joke. If you want to pursue it as a career, you have to be ready because there is a long way to go. It’s hard to earn gigs and the pay is not as rewarding as the effort. So make sure you stay funny. Know what makes people laugh, and you’ll make it big in no time.

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35 Responses to “How to Be a Stand-Up Comedian”

  • etavitom says:

    great advice. this is one of the most underrated skills ever!

  • Ashley says:

    so my name is Ashley and i’m 14 years old turning 15 in dec. (that stands for december):P and i am a comedy FREAK!! well maby not a freak… but i love comedy when i grow up i want to be a comedain and work on like TV or radio or something like that. i dont recon im funny enought to be a stand-up comedain.but rite now i want to go and act on comedy shows like comesy sketches. what can i do??
    i still need to stay in school!

    please reply to my e-mail

    i just want some advice sank-you
    :)

  • loving_life says:

    I just read Ashley’s comment and she must hav read my mind!!! I’ve always had coments on how funny I am, and I’ve the right thing to say and when. But last night I watched some stand up comedy, and I thought yes- this is what i want to know and might even do! My dad has worked in the film industry and has always wanted me to get infront of the camera, and if I do, I’d love to do it by being a stand-up comedian. I was wondering about what coarses r there for being a comedian?

    (Ashley r u my twin or sumthing coz I turn 15 in december 2! … weird.)

  • Mike says:

    O.k you have no idea how bad i wanna do stand up i’ve watch so many comedian some good some bad and i write all my own jokes i’ve got tons in my head im just not sure how to say them can you give me some more advice?

  • Is Loving life a child molestor? says:

    loving life sounds like he wants to come on to the first poster.

  • ashley im 12 years old n love to be a comedian says:

    i like jokes i like comedians but most of all i like my confidence my family say i should do this because its really like my personality its funny but so am i its rather my face expressions and things that come out of my mouth make my family burst out with laughter. been a comedian is really my life i want to make the whole world laugh if it dosnt work ill make them laugh there heads off ill find a way trust me =) x

  • guz says:

    they r probably laughing at u not at what ur saying, stick to ur family and leave the comedy to people who know what the f they r doing.. ur not going to be the next dave chappelle so get over it. if your doing comedy for the money and the tv shows u r doing it for the wrong reasons. Start small with local improv clubs and do it for the thrill of making people laugh not for money.

  • Zog says:

    Im 16 years old and have recently considered doing stand up comedy. Ive been heavily influenced by such acts as stephen wright, dane cook, and especially george carlin. Ive also been told by quite a few people that im quick witted and should become a comedian and not in that sarcastic “now shut the fuck up smartass” sense. Ever since, ive been writing pages and pages of material in my boring classes. My grades may have suffered a tad, but i figure stand up material has a better chance of helping me in life than knowing who invented the cotton gin or some shit. I think i might be a little young to even get into a comedy club let alone do some kind of open mic night thing so i figured i would do stand up while im in college and play it off like im doin it for the money, but i dont know. This article here is good advice though.

  • 3====> says:

    well im a comedian but im 24 :P
    you see these steps are all you will need!
    i promise! ;)

  • Faggit says:

    Lol 3====> is a penis!!

  • Green sloppy joe says:

    No you!
    you see life isnt about beeing seriouse you need humor!

  • my name says:

    i thought once yeah stand up sounds good appart from the terror and everything, so i thought may as well write down things in my head that make me go heh in the day time, after a bottle of wine i read it and realised that it was more like a documented document and that i was working for the goverment, an alcoholic employee none the less. ah i have only moments before i ave to go to work, so to cut a long story short, after you write something down how do you read it over again without improvising so that you go over time?, and how can you enjoy reading it or recalling it without improvising?, why is it that the thought of saying hello infront of loads of people doing a stand up is ridiculus?, it says up there to be important.. i mean serious about the job thought, am i satan almost for being ridiculus?, what is wrong and right anymore? can that last question really be answered in this modern day and society?
    where do i have to go and who do i have to see?, tell me quick now.
    nevermind i’ve got business of the day to be attending to, ive got to go and be imortat myself now in 20 minutes. thanks for your time.
    me xxx

  • my name says:

    i havent had a reply yet and i am enraged even though you’d never notice, but deep down within the firey rage burns with a thousand fires i feel sick with the hatred like the hairy beastius i have become. really speaking its only been a day but i always knew that i was the centre of the universe and expected to be treated with the respect i deserve, between you and i, i am almost a complete replica of the queen, but unfortunately for me i only got her looks and the personality of an enraged alcoholic scots man.
    none the less i will await your reply,
    thankyou for your time again
    me x x x
    ps sorry about the lengthy essay comments i have left on this site but i cant help but go on about shit.

  • airyago says:

    Yep! I’m headed into comedy now in my life. It started about 2 years ago at church service, everyone wanted me to get up and sing, but when I got up there my joking hit them better than my singing. so they started getting me in there to bring humor and it seems to work for me. it also helped with stage fright. next week I’m preparing to go before a crowd of about 120-130 people. The thing that is amazing me is that I’m really looking forward to it. So, good advice is to start your comedy around people you know, their reactions will help you in moving forward. good luck to all pending comedians.

  • Jamie says:

    I love comedy and i want to be a stand up comedian. One problem :( I’m 12. Any ideas how i can get my self shown as a comedian? I have a script that I have written including subjects as Dinosaurs, Useless subjects at school, Encores and Sign Language.

  • dj says:

    im 13 i want to be a camedian but i dont think im good enough

  • andy watson says:

    oryt i am a stand up comic from machester and also i am 27 i toured with paddy mcguinness in his new tour. And to be honest nyou dont have to be a funny person to be a comedian just write material about what you have come across in your life and then try and make and act them funny not hard

    i am not a funny person at all watch me on youtube type in andy watson or http://www.myspace.com/andythejoker

  • lesley says:

    sometimes i just think that my material is not good enough. everytime i write i reach a deadlog. i am funny when i speak to my friends but when i try cracking jokes is just hard. what can i do to fix my problem.

  • Alex says:

    I’m wearing my mum’s knickers, and I need your skills…

  • hest says:

    i wanna be a stand up comedian, my favorite comedians are rodney rude, billy birmingham and denis learey. i would be fairly rude and fairly racist but who gives a fuck should email me on tips of how to think of jokes

  • Jayden says:

    I have a pretty big performance coming up this week friday, and its also my first time on the stage, so may someone give me tips on how not to bomb on my first time?

  • Jayden says:

    i am a 14 year old up and coming comedian, and I have a pretty big performance coming up this week friday, and its also my first time on the stage, so can anyone give me tips on how not to bomb on my first time?

  • desiree says:

    I don’t think you should worry about bombing your first time. People like me who have been doing it for years still bomb sometimes. All you can do is know your material inside and out and say it with confidence. If a joke doesn’t get any laughs, just go on to the next one. Then, if you bomb you bomb. No big deal. Bombing isn’t really a bad thing. It’s something that has to happen. Also, don’t think of any show as strictly a performance. Every time you get on stage, it a showcase for what your great jokes, a workshop for you jokes that can be reworked, and a testing ground for jokes you can just get rid of. Good luck!

  • Aaron Hughes says:

    I think *REVISION REVISION REVISION* of the material is also very important. Check out http://www.idestroyed.com for an online joke editor and a database to store your jokes

  • sun tzu says:

    i do stand up comedy. i fully encourage anyone who wants to try to do so. dont go the rest of your life thinking what could have been. to all beginers, keep a notebook on u and write down anything funny that u say or see. when u get a chance, go over the notebook and see if any of it can be made into a joke. this is how i come up with material. i also keep another notebook by my bed and if i think of a joke, i dont care how tired i may be, i write something down to remind me of the joke in the morning. keep writting, never stop, u should have back ups behind your back ups and more back ups behind those. honestly, if u want to take a class, go ahead but in my opinion, the best way to learn is to write some jokes and try them out at an open mic. if they dont work, find jokes that do. dont ever steal material, if u have to steal jokes then you’re not a comedian. dont worry about bombing in the begining but dont get too comfertable with bombing. if u bomb, figure out why, then fix it, dont just plow blindly through your sets. to be a good comedian takes alot of guts and alot of dedication. make it happen, good luck to everyone and dont let ppl put doubts in your head.

  • Vanessa says:

    Okay, so I want to be a comedian, but I don’t think I’m cut out for stand up. I don’t want to get up on stage, tell some jokes and then have nobody laugh. I have anxiety so that would just stress me out.
    I still want to write jokes so I was thinking of being a comedic writer, but I don’t know how I could possibly get that job, or how I could go far with it.
    I want to be seen though so maybe I could be a comedic actor, but once again I don’t know how I could possibly get a job like that since most comedic actors started out doing stand up.
    Can someone please help me with this?
    thanks! :)

  • Susan says:

    hey hey hey,.
    I had anxiety and depression and i have no problems with making people laugh! if you WANT to be a comedian, dont think negitave and say that youre not cup out for stand up, you need to be positiveee.

    ill tell you sonething like dont be bothered reading it if you dont wanna

    im a year seven, right, and our whole class had to present an argument about the three little pigs story and we had to argue why the wolf was innocent. when it was my turn to present, i was shitting myself, but i walked up there , in front of the class and presented my speech, with my hands shaking. as soon as i started talking i was very nervous, anxious and kept thinking that no one would understand my style of comedy and my blue comedy jokes and i thought that no one would laugh. about 20 seconds into my speech everyone was laughing at what i had said, and they all laughed throught my whole speech! I was no longer anxious or scared. even my teacher laughed! it felt like i had complete power over the whole audience, which was a group of 19 students.

    later on that day, our whole class had a spelling test with the words, ‘novelist’ and ‘comedian’

    i write in comedy and most people know me as a comic writer and stand up which is awesome haha

    my teacher called out the word “novelist” and he said, “i know some girls in this class who could be famous novelists”

    i wrote a story about a convict girl in the best humour i could do and i achieved full marks.

    then he called out the word ‘comedian’ and said “there is one girl in aprticular who is a comedian in this class” and i assume he was talking about me

    SHARE your TALENTS with the world and GO FOR IT and believe that you CAN DO IT

    now, if you have anxiety dont let it stand in the way of what you want to be, dont think that you cant do it because im pretty sure you can! :)
    my comedy talent helped me recover from my depression and anxiety because as i made lots of people laugh, the more they wanted to be my friend, lots of people are starting to see that shiny spark in me and start to take in all of my great talents like, music, art and writing and stand up comedy and they love it.

    once youre up there performing, [if people laugh, which they should! but you need to believe that you can do it, you need to make and believe that people will me amused] you will feel comfortable and confident to keep going on.

    im being honest, a stand up comedy performance wont work if you dont think youre cut up to do it.

    if you think negitave the audience probably will too and you dont want that, thats horrible.

    but if you believe that you CAN perform an audience-pissing-themself-laughing-at-your-stand-up-comedy-speech then the audience is bound to laugh, and if they laught at you its great fun to laugh with them and aknowledge your fab talent.

    i think that if you wanna be a stand up comedian, you have to use your talent in your own unique way and style. make the crowd laugh, and at no point at all should you be negitave and think “i cant do it” because you sure as hell can.

  • rand says:

    wow hey thanks for all the coments these really help, im going to be a comedian someday since most of the stuff i think up is funny to me and if its funny to me its funny :D lol. well either way this comments reallly helped.

  • Harmony says:

    Everyone tells me that I am a naturally funny person, and when my family go out to parties and BBQ’s I have everyone in stitches. The thing is, is that I am not sure how to develop my own material. I usually remember other people’s jokes. I know word-play is one of the ways to get jokes, like “Little Zukie Walks 15 Miles A Day For Water” Why doesn’t she move? And things like that, but I was wondering if you had any tips on how to help me think of new jokes and how to think of them.

    Thank you so much! :) X

  • chris says:

    im 18 and quite spunky. I was asked to make a speech for my school assembly and made it much funnier than i expected and everyone laughed at me. im only telling you this because no one has left any comments for a month

  • Mat says:

    Im responding to the person that calls them self Guz. Whats wrong with you?

    To anyone who wants to be a comedian, like myself. Go big or go home. You know inside yourself if you can do it or not. Just because people laugh at you Guz does not mean that they are laughing at everyone else as well.

    It takes practice yes and starting out in small clubs is a good idea, but if you have the dream reach for it.

    And too Harmony, you wish to know how to come up with original material. I can give you a few pointers on how I like to do it. Its quite simple really. Well it works for me. When im watching t.v. I sit down with my lab top and listen for Key Words or Phrases that spark my interest and write them down whatever im thinking at the time. You will not write gems everytime but I assure you for every 10 crappy jokes you right you will right one that even makes yourself laugh.

    The trick to making people laugh is not trying. All you have to be is yourself. People laugh to make themselves feel good, so try and find the subject that you have the hardest time with. For example if your down about money talk about money, if your down about sex talk about sex. Try and make yourself feel good and you will find other following

  • isreal azanor says:

    i love to be a stand up commedian,but i usually has a phobia of crowd .please help me forward the tips 4 a beginer to my e-mal box thank you.

  • steve says:

    Im 17 and plan on getting a gig at this local comedy club when i turn 18. I know people who can get me a sure spot but the problem is…where the hell do i start…its hard enough thinking of crap that will make people laugh but its harder delivering it when theres 300 eyeballs stabbing you…why the hell am i talking to myself…no one reads this anymore….

  • Dominic says:

    I am 12 years old and i have a dream of being a comedian i had enterd a talent show and got though to the final with my comedy every one thinks i have a talent for makeing people lagh and i am following my dream to be one i have enterd another talent show next week and im thinking of stuff to make people lagh so i need some tips on how to be a great comedian.

  • fuad says:

    its never a good idea to prepare too much….set topics and then just improve…thats the best way because it feels natural…and the crowd is usually with u……also a very good way is to build rapport by finding common grounds with the audience…get in to what mejority of the crowd finds funny and you will kill every one


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