It is easy to understand why anyone who has attended or performed at a stand-up comedy open mic night could easily assume that stand-up comedy is highly competitive.
Don’t be bamboozled.
Just because there are usually a couple of dozen comedians taking to the stage on any particular open mic night is somewhat misleading when it comes to making an accurate assessment on how competitive stand-up comedy actually is.
As a matter of fact, in this article I’m going to explain why stand-up comedy is not even remotely as competitive as it appears on the surface and why tremendous opportunities are available for even the newest of comedians who can generate big audience laughs.
So, let’s pull back the curtain and take a hard look at the so-called “competition” in the world of stand-up comedy.
Whether you are performing or observing at a stand-up comedy open mic night, here are just two things I want you to pay close attention to…
The Truth About Stand-up Comedy Open Mic Nights
1. Most new comedians who step on a stand-up comedy open mic stage will not do well at all — even with months of stage time.
As a matter of fact, it will usually be the more seasoned comedians who will be able to make any headway with the audience.
Even then, because they are usually working on new material and use notes or read their “jokes” instead of preparing to deliver their act professionally, even the more experienced comedians also tend not to do well at stand-up comedy open mics with new material they are working out.
I can even give you a way to easily verify what I am telling you.
Take paper and pen and write down the name of every comedian that goes up on stage for any given stand-up comedy open mic night.
Then make a tick mark by their name for each audience laugh they generate (collective audience laughs, not one or two audience members).
Make a note of the time they were on stage – it will usually be 3-5 minutes.
You will find that most of the comedians in that line up will have very few tick marks that represent solid laughs generated during a set.
Note: Headliner level laughter usually generates 4-6+ laughs per minute. So in a 3-5 minute set, a comedian should be able to generate 12-30+ solid laughs. And you don’t have to hold the “title” of headliner to do that.
What you will quickly find is that most of the comedians performing at stand-up comedy open mics will only generate 4 or less laughs for their entire set, which equates to bombing.
2. Most of the people who perform at comedy open mics consistently over a 3 month period will ultimately wash out in less than a year because they can’t “figure out” how to generate decent audience laughs and get frustrated with bombing on stage.
The ones who do decide to “stick it out” for the long haul will usually stay at the open mic level for many months and sometimes years.
Again, this is because they can’t seem to “figure out” how to get the big laughs on stage, but seem to be willing to exclusively use trial and error as their primary means of developing an act that works — just like most every other comedian does.
What Does This Mean For You?
What this means is that if you have real comedy talent and can learn to professionally develop and deliver a stand-up comedy routine that capitalizes on your natural talent right from the start…
It relatively easy to eclipse those who are merely trying to “write jokes” and recite them on stage, expecting to generate big audience laughs.
Comedy club owners, managers, talent buyers and agents pay attention to those who can generate big audience laughs consistently.
And it’s pretty easy to stick out like a sore thumb among so many who can’t seem to “figure it out” if you actually know what you are doing and professionally prepare to deliver your stand-up comedy material like a pro.
So don’t think stand-up comedy is highly competitive just because there are scores of people who show up to perform at stand-up open mics nights.
There is and always have been tremendous opportunities to advance quickly as a comedian if you have the ability to deliver the goods and generate the big audience laughs consistently.