If you are a beginner at open mic comedy, the chances are pretty good that you are under the impression that there are some “double secret” or super special techniques or strategies involved in order to do well on stage as a new comedian.
This particularly true if you have already been on stage and haven’t gotten the laughs you wanted no matter what you did to prepare for comedy open mics.
Well, there are no super special, “double secret” techniques involved. But you do need to know what you are doing if you don’t want to suck on stage for months on end like most new comedians tend to do.
Getting the big laughs on stage as a new comedian really involves understanding the difference between using your already developed comedy talent and developing stage skills to amplify and maximize your already developed comedy talent for the stage.
It also means knowing how to prepare for comedy open mics in order to generate the maximum amount of laughter during the performance time provided (usually 3-5 minutes).
So if you want to know how to do your first stand-up comedy set and not do as poorly as most new comedians tend to do, here are a few examples of what I am talking about:
1. Knowing what makes you funny in the first place.
If you don’t know what it is that you do to get laughs in everyday life, how can you apply that to stand-up comedy? Can you really prepare to do your first stand-up comedy set if you can’t even nail down and use what makes you funny in the first place?
Basically, you can’t. And when I say knowing what makes you funny, I am not talking about some critical, microscopic or detailed breakdown.
I’m talking specifically about knowing that:
- What makes you funny in everyday life is MORE than simply the words you use when you talk.
- What makes you funny in everyday life is what gives you uniqueness from others, even when you talk about the same things.
- What makes you funny in everyday life is EXACTLY what will make you funny for stand-up comedy audiences.
However, most new comedians opt for a mechanical, “plug peg A into slot B” approach as they assume they are “supposed” to do.
The problem with that approach is that the process of developing and delivering a stand-up comedy routine becomes a “writing technique” process instead of an organic and natural means to express one’s natural sense of humor.
You don’t use a “writing technique” process to make other people laugh when you interact with them. What makes you think that a “writing technique” approach will get you the laughs you want at any stand-up comedy open mic night?
Which brings me to the next basic thing every new comedian should know which is…
2. Knowing the difference between making friends, family and acquaintances laugh spontaneously and delivering a stand-up comedy routine that actually generates laughs for an audience of people who don’t know you.
There are some very significant similarities between making people you know laugh and making people you don’t know (and who don’t know you) who are sitting in an audience laugh.
There are also some significant differences as well — however…
Most of these differences involve a monologue expression versus a dialogue expression and a stage presentation as opposed to just standing around shooting the breeze friends, family, coworkers, etc.
But these differences DO NOT CHANGE how you use your sense of humor. These differences DO NOT CHANGE the way you naturally talk and express your comedy talent to an audience if you want to generate big laughs.
Armed with this knowledge (and how to use it effectively) can give a new comedian a significant advantage, particularly with regard to how they create and develop comedy material for the stage.
3. Knowing how to structure a stand-up comedy routine for maximum laughter impact.
One of the keys to success as a beginner at comedy open mic nights is to understand that the fastest path to getting the laughs you want when you step on stage is to use and apply the natural comedy talent that you already have in a structured and condensed way.
A stand-up comedy act is a premeditated, well planned and extensively rehearsed routine, unlike the more spontaneous exchange of commentary between friends, family and co-workers when you are “on a roll”.
Yet you still want that same frequent laughter response when you are delivering your stand-up comedy act.
In order to do that effectively, you MUST be aware of:
- What a punchline really is (relative to you, the way you express yourself and what you are taking about).
- How frequently you are delivering your punchlines.
- How to tighten your stand-up comedy material for maximum punchline frequency each minute.
- How to determine what material to keep, what material is worth editing and what material needs to be discarded.
4. Knowing how to prepare to deliver a professional stand-up comedy routine.
Most new comedians spend very little time in this area, particularly when they are performing at comedy open mics. Subsequently, they get little in the way of laughs when they hit the stage.
Ironically, this aspect of stand-up comedy is more important than the “writing” part, believe it or not because…
Marginally funny material can be hilarious depending upon how it is delivered. But the funniest material can be reduced to unfunny if it is poorly delivered.
5. Knowing how to make intelligent adjustments to stand-up comedy material.
For most new comedians, this is usually an exercise in “blind trial and error”.
It’s almost like trying to play the lotto – even if you do win, you really don’t know why nor do you have a clue on how to repeat success.
6. Knowing that creating, developing and delivering a great stand-up comedy routine takes work, but is not difficult at all depending upon the system, method or approach that you use to do it.
You will see this over and over again on this blog – go to ANY stand-up comedy open mic night, suffer through every comedian that performs, then know this:
Most of the people who are trying to generate laughs are just as funny as you are. They have just as much comedy talent as you have.
Yet they can’t get anywhere near the laughs they need to move forward as a comedian.
The reason that the vast majority of new comedians struggle for months and years is self-inflicted by the process they are trying to use to develop a stand-up routine that actually works.
Hint: If you have real comedy talent and aren’t getting the laughs you want, you may want to look at a different process or approach that will actually tap into your talent quickly and effectively.
What I have presented here are just a few of the most basic things that a comedy open mic beginner should not only know, but be able to act upon in a way that brings them the audience laugh results they want in shortest time possible.
And here’s the real kicker – while what I have described certainly takes work, none of these things are difficult to understand or implement if you know what you are doing.