If you’re like most people who dream of becoming a comedian, you likely have a sense of humor that can make your friends and family laugh.
You’ve probably had moments when you said something funny in a conversation and thought, “Hey, I could do this on stage and make some bank!”
But as many comedians will tell you, the transition from being funny in everyday life to making people laugh on stage can be a daunting one.
As someone who has been there and struggled through those first few months on stage, I know firsthand that having comedy talent is just the beginning. In fact, I would argue that it’s only a small part of what it takes to succeed as a comedian.
I was struggling terribly and couldn’t understand why until later on (after developing the processes provided in the Killer Stand-up Online Course) which was…
Whatever comedy talent I had or thought I had didn’t make it to the stage.
What do I mean by that?
First of all, like many who want to tackle stand-up comedy, I saw being a comedian as something larger than life.
And I assumed that it certainly had to be profoundly different than anything I did to cause laughs to happen in everyday conversations or when I was teaching classes. Bad assumption.
So I actually ended up doing my “impression” of what I thought a comedian should be on stage, instead of capitalizing on my comedy talent in a way that was natural (and easy) for me.
In other words I thought that I needed to be some sort of “special” type of character for the stage as far as delivering my stand-up comedy material when the reality was quite the opposite — I didn’t have to become some of special character at all.
I was clueless to the fact that my “special” character (my impression of what a stand-up comedy should be on stage) came across as phony and jokey (which has an adverse effect on audience laughter).
And it certainly did not help that I really didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing when it came to “writing” stand-up comedy material.
Like most people who set out to tackle stand-up comedy, I was under the impression that developing stand-up comedy material was all about “writing” stuff from a blank piece of paper that was “funny” when you read it.
Using the books I had acquired and the workshops I took, the basic process went something like this:
- Come up with some sort of funny premise and write it down
- Come up with funny punchlines for the funny premise and write it down
- Take the jokes produced from this process and deliver them to an audience
But the reality was that I didn’t really know if the premises I had come up with were funny and I didn’t know if the punchlines for those premises were funny.
After taking my “jokes” to the stage it was pretty darn clear that my jokes weren’t very funny at all even though I thought they “read” funny on paper and had memorized them completely.
Then when I left the stage after a crappy performance, I didn’t really have a clue as to how to improve, change or adjust the jokes I had written to make them better and get bigger laughs.
I watched many many hours of dozens of pro comedians that I had recorded trying to pinpoint hints or uncover clues as to how they were able to get the big and frequent audience laughs they were able to generate.
But I couldn’t nail down one thing that I could use myself that would help my own stand-up comedy adventures.
Ironically, one of the things that got me into stand-up comedy in the first place was that I was convinced that I could do as good or better than most other comedians that I had seen on TV.
It wasn’t until I ditched the so-called “conventional” methods and started actually using and applying the comedy talent that caused me to consider becoming a comedian in the first place that I began to make rapid strides as a comedian.
The bottom line is this:
What I thought stand-up comedy to be — how it was created, produced and delivered was what was holding me back.
If you don’t get a single thing out of this article, know this:
Writing and talking are two separate and distinct forms of communication. To try to use one communication method (writing) to excel at the other (talking) is like trying to eat soup with a butter knife.
I’m going to bet my shirt right now that if you are reading this you have all the comedy talent you need to do well as a comedian if…
You have a process that allows you to actually use that comedy talent from the beginning of the comedy material development phase all the way through the delivery of that material.
And while there is a lot to know about developing and delivering a tight, big laugh stand-up comedy routine, it’s not hard at all.
As a matter of fact, it gets easier and easier as the laughs get bigger and more frequent.
Let me leave you with this:
Every comedian is the master of the process, system or method they use to develop and deliver the stand-up comedy act they take to the stage.
And if what you are doing isn’t getting you the results you want, the chances are pretty darn good that it is the process, system or method you are using that is holding you back — not a lack of comedy talent.
Trust the comedy talent you have and learn to harness that talent for the stand-up stage.
Be yourself. Don’t do an impression of what you think a comic is supposed to look and sound like. This mental picture of what a perfect comic looks and sounds like is ingrained deep inside us. So when we hit the stage, we consciously or unconsciously (I’m not sure which it is or maybe it’s a combination of both), act differently than we do in normal life. We take on this perceived image of a comic. It is freeing to just be yourself. How do you get people to laugh in day-to-day conversations? Capitalize on those traits.
Hmmm… what you say about here reminded me about what one of your students said in the preview of your Killer StandUp course. He was talking about not trying to have a character. How do you keep from copying other comedians style? I ask because right after I listen to a comedian, the jokes I come up with will be directly in that comedian’s style (thankfully, I don’t think of jokes that are just reworded versions of the comedian’s material).
You be yourself – you are your own unique character already. 🙂