Your First Steps In Stand-up Comedy

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Author Note: If you personally know someone who is funny and considering taking a shot at becoming a comedian in the near future, please share this article with them. It could help them better understand their important first steps as a new comedian. Thanks!

One of the very first things a prospective comedian should do is to find out where every possible performing opportunity is in their area.

The reason I say that is because without audiences to perform for, it is basically impossible to develop a stand-up comedy routine.

Let me put this another way:

While most of what a comedian does to develop and deliver a stand-up comedy act happens before and after they hit the stage, it is on the stage where a comedian develops their skill and ability as a comedy entertainer.

The Goal

Every comedian has the same performance goal which is to “kill” the audience.

In more concrete terms, “killing” the audience means generating an average of 4-6+ quality laughs every performing minute.

More accurately stated, the 4-6+ laughs a comedian generates should equate to an average of 18+ seconds of collective audience laughter each performing minute.

It is when a comedian approaches, meets or exceeds this level of laughter generation that they begin to be approached for more advanced or paid performing opportunities.

It is interesting to note that most new comedians are completely unaware of these verifiable performance levels, much less how to develop and deliver a stand-up comedy routine that will even come close.

Creating a powerful stand-up comedy routine that generates noteworthy laughs is a process with 4 primary parts:

  • Development of stand-up comedy material that is designed to generate an average of 4-6+ laughs every performing minute right from the start.
  • Preparation to deliver stand-up comedy material in a professional way that enhances laughter frequency and intensity.
  • Performing their stand-up comedy material for audiences.
  • Making intelligent adjustments after performances to adjust, edit or eliminate comedy material to ensure that it is as tight as possible in the fewest number of performances.

The speed at which any comedian will progress in stand-up comedy is directly related to the effectiveness and efficiency of the process that I have just described.

Most new comedians don’t have much of a process at all when they start out, much less one that will render the results they need to move forward.

You need only sit through a couple of stand-up comedy open mic nights to fully understand exactly what I am talking about.

That’s one of the reasons why many comedians spend 5+ years before they can generate noteworthy laughs on stage.

Related Article: Does It Take 5 – 10 Years To Get Good At Stand-up Comedy? Only If You Want To Take That Long…

But that’s not the only reason it takes new comedians so long to get anywhere in stand-up comedy.

A Big Mistake New Comedians Make

I started this article by saying that you need to find out where all the performing opportunities are for new comedians to take the stage.

What you also need to know is that no matter where you live on the planet, there is usually a long line of folks who are also trying to get on stage to develop their stand-up comedy routine.

If you don’t get anything else out of this article, know this:

Stage time for new comedians is a precious commodity that is limited in the beginning.

New comedians are usually only afforded 3-5 minutes at a time on stage when they do get stage time. And unfortunately most new comedians absolutely squander the limited time and performance opportunities they get.

In other words:

  • They don’t know how to develop and structure stand-up comedy material that is reflective of the comedy talent they have.
  • They don’t know how to prepare to deliver their stand-up comedy material to an audience.
  • When they do get on stage, there’s mostly talking and no laughs.
  • Then when they leave the stage, they don’t know how to even begin to make evaluate their act to make adjustments to their material that will help enhance their laughter generation power on stage.

In essence, this approach is little more than extreme waste of valuable stage time.

And accumulating more and more performances under these conditions just extends the time a comedian has to take in order to somehow acquire even a small amount of stand-up comedy material that actually get laughs.

Important Considerations

For those who have comedy talent and want to capitalize on that talent as a comedian, know this:

Every single comedian has complete control over the process they use to develop and deliver a stand-up comedy act.

While stand-up comedy is most certainly a challenging adventure, you should also know that it is not difficult to stand head and shoulders above other new comedians in a relatively short period of time if you have a process that works for you.

Related Article: Is Stand-up Comedy Competitive? Not Even Close…

There’s another thing you might want to pay close attention to as you embark upon your journey as a comedian and that is:

At stand-up comedy open mic nights you are able to observe what DOES NOT work on the stand-up comedy stage as demonstrated by the majority of new comedians who hit the stage.

Use that to your advantage and don’t make the same mistakes they make.

Here’s the bottom line:

I want you to leave other new comedians in the dust in the shortest amount of time possible.

It’s really not hard to do if you have a solid process that works for you and the comedy talent you already have.

Or you can take the long road and simply flounder over and over again like the rest of the pack tends to do.

Either way, the choice is 100% yours.

About 

Leading stand-up comedy educator and trainer, providing proven 21st century strategies and techniques for individuals who wish to become comedians on a professional level. For a detailed stand-up comedy resume go to: Steve Roye’s Stand-up Resume.

8 thoughts on “Your First Steps In Stand-up Comedy

  1. That’s interesting how you mentioned that “killing” the audience means generating an average of 4-6+ quality laughs every minute. I like to think I’m a funny guy, but reaching that many laughs per minute is certainly a goal for me to make! After watching a stand up comedy documentary, being a comedian has always been something I’ve dreamed about.

  2. Steve, does your course go into how to rehearse, and how much time to spend rehearsing? If so, how extensively do you talk about it? If not, can you recommend a good resource that covers the topic? Thanks for all the great info on here!

    • The answer to your question is yes, all the details are in this training module: http://www.killerstandup.com/1381/training-module-six-intro-lesson-links/ To my knowledge, that is the most comprehensive info you will find anywhere.

      • My unbaised opinion is that Steve’s course is the best and most comprehensive material I have read about rehearsing! In this article, you mentioned the importance of stage time. Great news, I got approval to be on the line-up for our monthly Island Grinds. I plan on using the info you have about rehearsals. I want to give myself ample time to rehearse more than the last two times. (Both of them were very short notices!) I am going to follow it step by step. Thanks Steve for the indepth course you have written!

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