Back On The Stand-up Comedy Stage After 7 Years And…

As most folks probably know, I retired from actively performing stand-up comedy in 2005 to focus on stand-up comedy education for comedians.

But I got the opportunity to perform again after a 7 year absence from the stage – and I nailed it! Here’s what happened…

I got an email from Gid Pool (one of my students) letting me know that he was headlining a gig at the Olde Stone country club right here in Bowling Green, KY (where I live) on Nov 2, 2012. He contacted me the week before to ask if I would do 10 minutes to open the show for him and I agreed, knowing full well that:

  • I hadn’t performed as a comedian for 7 years, so I would need to put in some serious effort beforehand if I expected to kill on stage – especially with only about 10 days in advance to prepare.
  • Opening spots tend to be the most difficult because the audience is not yet warmed up.
  • The gig was being held in a country club ballroom and would likely not be set-up in the most optimal fashion for maximum stand-up comedy impact.
  • The crowd would be somewhat small. Sure enough, there was only about 60 people at the show.

Note: There was a stage and the mic was great. The seating was more spread out than I would prefer and the stage lighting was extremely poor (basically, I was performing in the dark).

Still, I was able to do very well at the gig because I literally spent hours preparing for the gig using the exact same techniques I describe in detail in my course.

Because most of the stand-up comedy material that I had developed during my comedy career was clean and timeless, I didn’t have to spend much time selecting or adjusting material for the gig.

Probably the most exciting part of the gig for me was that I was also able to deliver some brand new, never performed material to the stage that killed.

Again, I can only attribute that to my system for developing and delivering stand-up comedy material.

I should have the video of my performance in the next week or so. And while I may not have quite hit the headliner level mark of averaging 18+ seconds of laughter per minute, I already know from experience that I was fairly close to that performance benchmark.

I will be evaluating my performance using Comedy Evaluator Pro as soon as I get the video and will update this article with the results.

Update: Well,I managed to average 14 seconds of laughter per minute (PAR Score 23) during this stand-up set after a 7 year absence. I’m pretty darn happy with that considering the extreme darkness of the stage, less than optimal seating arrangement and the fact that I was the opening act. 🙂

I also have enough experience to know that had the seating been closer and the stage lighting better, I would have generated much more laughter during this set.

Note: I will not be posting the actual video of this set in order to keep my material from thieves in the event other performance opportunities should make themselves available in the future (that should be a hint for other comedians when it comes to posting stand-up comedy bits on YouTube).

Let me leave you with this:

I walk the talk when it comes to my system. And if a guy like me who hasn’t been on stage for a very long time can come back and kill an audience after a 7 year absence from the stage — in the opening spot no less — without anxiety, hesitation or reservation…

Well, I think that says something. And getting paid $10 per performing minute wasn’t too shabby either. 🙂

If you have watched the stand-up comedy documentary I Am Comic, then you got to see first hand how comedian Ritch Shynder didn’t quite have the same experience that I did after his long absence from the stand-up comedy stage.

But don’t take my word for it…

Contact Gid Pool and ask him how I did (he didn’t know how long it had been since I was on stage before I did the gig and was shocked when I told him after the show).

All I know is that there are few experiences that rival the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes with being able to kill an audience on demand. 🙂

Related Video:

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5 Replies to “Back On The Stand-up Comedy Stage After 7 Years And…”

  1. Interesting to hear our mentor’s experience, Steve. Thanks for sharing. I am always surprised to see or hear of such small audiences – around 60. I’ve read of people performing to groups of 20 and less. As an “older newbie” I imagine “regular comedians” (is that two oxymoron’s in one sentence??) performing to audiences of 100+ — perhaps because that’s what we see on TV. It’s oddly comforting to see that established performers still have smaller audiences sometimes.

    While on the subject of smaller audiences, I find that every audience has its own ‘personality’ — but I find the smaller the audience, the more difficult it is to relate or connect to that personality. Does everyone find it easier to perform for larger audiences than smaller ones? My theory is that with the smaller audience, you tend to see the individual audience members.) Thoughts?

      • Thanks. I just read the article you suggested. I found this quote particularly revealing:

        “•As a general rule, comedians who are able to generate substantial laughter with smaller audiences tend to generate a far greater laughter response with bigger audiences.”

        Most people might equate larger audiences with “success” — but it seems that a developing performer might be better served to concentrate on work with smaller audiences so that future performance before larger crowds will be even stronger! This idea makes sense. I really hadn’t thought of it in those terms before; I was one of those who saw the “small” audience as a negative thing. Now I see how I can use it to help me improve the quality of my performances.

  2. Hi Steve,

    are you saying don’t put your videos on youtube at all or maybe just 1-2 mins as a taster?

    • Yes, that is what I am saying . I have only two of my stand-up comedy bits that are publicly accessible on YouTube and are embedded on my resume/bio page at

      Pro talent buyers are NOT going to go through dozens of your YouTube videos. They want to see snippets of the best you have to offer and will request longer segments if required in order to make a decision to hire.

      There are other factors that matter as well when it comes to making your stand-up comedy videos publicly available via YouTube or any other online video service — check out the 5 free lessons in my course for details.