My First Stand-up Comedy Performance Flopped – Now What?

first performance bombing as a comedianIf your first performance as a stand-up comedian didn’t go as well as you would have liked for it to…

You are certainly not alone, myself included.

Becoming a comedian can be a frustrating affair, especially if you are largely unsure of what you are doing.

But since I am a cup is half full instead of half empty kind of guy, here’s what I will tell you:

Only very few people have the courage to get on the stand-up comedy stage and risk their sense of humor in public.

That is a major accomplishment all by itself.

But more importantly, you now also know that stand-up comedy is not anywhere near as effortless as experienced comedians make it look to be.

As a matter of fact, consider this:

When you watch a professional comedian perform whether it be live or on a recording, you are viewing a finished stand-up comedy product.

What you don’t see is how many different variations of that material were needed and tested before a stand-up comedy bit is finally put into the “ready for prime time” category.

So, knowing what I know now, here’s what I would ask about that first performance that didn’t go well:

1. Were you completely rehearsed and prepared to deliver your material/jokes or did you just try to “wing it?”

Hint: Comedians who are getting the big laughs on stage are not “winging it.”

2. Were you simply talking out your comedy material or did you deliver and express your stand-up comedy material in a way that was natural for you? There’s a big difference.

3. Did you use notes on stage? Because if you did, you reduced your chances of getting laughs or gaining any momentum with your stand-up comedy material.

4. Did you give less than your all because the audience was small?

5. Was your stand-up comedy material developed with 4-6+ punchlines per minute before you took it to the stage?

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What I did when I flopped was to scramble to get a hold of every possible book on writing stand-up comedy (#ad) and started taking workshops, without realizing that…

What you will get are mostly definitions and stand-up material examples that aren’t actionable for you and your sense of humor.

For me, that exercise resulted in a lot of fruitless work, 9 months of “flopping” and I almost quit.

Here are three articles on this stand-up comedy tips blog you might want to review that may be of benefit to you now:

And look at the bright side, as difficult as becoming a comedian may be (or seem to be)…

At this point you have nowhere to go but up. Move forward, knowing that if you have real comedy talent and if you are armed with information that actually works that you can and will improve.

Almost every recognizable headlining comedian today started their stand-up comedy careers where you are at right now.

What’s the difference between them and every other comedian? They had the courage to get back on the horse after they were bucked off.

But the reality is that you don’t have to suffer through many years or even many months of bombing in your quest to become a comedian IF you have real comedy talent and know what you are doing before you ever hit the stage.

I didn’t when I first started. I don’t talk about it much, but the story I provide on the website is actually the second time I decided to take a shot at stand-up comedy.

The very first time I got on stage as a “comedian” was when I was 23 years old and I talked the enlisted club manager into letting me have 3 minutes on stage after the scheduled magician one night.

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I had several close friends in the audience. I got on stage and started talking. There was no laughter. As a matter of fact I could hear people in the audience saying “What is he doing up there?”

I finished my three minutes, got off stage and vowed I would never do it again. It was almost 10 years before I even considered taking a shot at stand-up comedy again.

The second time I took a shot at becoming a comedian I lasted for 9 months before I was ready to throw in the towel. Had I not discovered my system, I would have been done with stand-up comedy for good.

Instead, I ended up having a very exciting and very rewarding stand-up comedy career in record time, far beyond what I could have imagined in the beginning when I got started.

And I can tell you this with great certainty:

The way I approached stand-up comedy in the beginning, trying to “write” my way to being funny on stage and trying to be my impression of what I thought a comedian should be on stage pretty much guaranteed that I would not make it very far as a comedian.

This blog is provided to expose you to alternate perspectives and views that you may not otherwise be exposed to and that may have a positive influence on how you tackle the challenge of becoming a comedian.

Bottom line: I simply don’t want anyone with comedy talent held back like I was when I started.

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3 Replies to “My First Stand-up Comedy Performance Flopped – Now What?”

  1. It’s amazing to keep finding page after page of useful, relevant material. And that’s in the FREE SECTION. I know i’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but i’m not sugarcoating anything. I feel like i learned more from studying your FREE material in 1 day than i did trolling sites for months prior to finding a link to your page. The only advice I’m giving out if asked at open mic, is to log onto your blog with paper and pen, ready to take notes.

  2. I have been going to comedy clubs to study other comedian and taking notes. My first was last night. I think I did pretty good because I have been reading your articles. This article will help me to continue to work hard. I have been practicing my routine. That’s what helped me on last night.


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