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It takes a tremendous amount of drive and determination to become a headlining comedian.
You must possess the confidence, talent and skill to be able to entertain audiences consistently, generating an average of 18+ seconds of laughter, cheering or applause for each performing minute — for 45 minutes to an hour.
That is no small feat, I can assure you. These folks stand among the stand-up comedy elite and they have set the standards for other talented comedians to achieve.
But for those new to stand-up comedy…
There is nothing keeping you from having the goal of delivering headliner level material for the stage time you are afforded, right from the beginning of your comedy adventures.
I don’t want to imply that you will necessarily reach that milestone on your first performance. Some people do, others do not.
But if you have real comedy talent and know how to structure and capitalize on that talent right from the beginning of your stand-up comedy adventures, you can progress very quickly — far more quickly than trying to “write” jokes in the literal sense.
Here are 4 important considerations you may want to review in order to elevate your chances of greater success on the stand-up comedy stage:
1. Have confidence in the way you develop your stand-up comedy material. It doesn’t matter if you are using my system, writing jokes one at a time using the conventional methods, or have your own method…
Don’t second guess your individual sense of humor — be more concerned about identifying those things you personally find easy to talk about and easy to apply your sense of humor to when talking about them.
You may also want to review this article about developing your first 5 minutes of stand-up comedy material.
2. Be prepared like a headliner — no matter what level you may be at.
In other words…
Don’t be unprepared like this guy was when you step on stage.
Be rehearsed and be prepared to speak as naturally and confidently as you would be if you were among friends and it is simply your turn to talk about any particular topic or issue.
Note: The only difference here is that you already know what you are going to talk about when it becomes your turn to talk and…
What you are going to express to friends has been structured and tightened to cut to the chase and generate 4-6+ laughs per minute when it is your turn to talk.
Prepare like you are getting $100 dollars for your 3-7 minutes of stage time.
If you will do that, you will usually stand head and shoulders above others who are performing at the same open mic.
It also has a tendency to draw attention from the management, organizers of a stand-up open mic and other comedians when an individual is prepared and rehearsed in a natural way and ready to give it their all, even if they don’t quite reach headliner level laughter their first time on stage.
Here’s an unsolicited and unedited comment that I received via Facebook to illustrate the power of proper preparation (I was granted permission to use it):
Steve, in the months since we spoke on the phone, I’ve decided I needed help and used your system.
After my FIRST comedy open mic in years, I got noticed immediately by the host of the show and booked two gigs. (A cancer benefit on Saturday and a tough room he wants me to tackle on Sept 20th)
Also had two headliner dudes express their willingness to vouch for me at a local comedy club for a guest spot which I highly suspect will lead to paid work.
Just updating you, and thanks!
3. Your goal from the beginning is to generate 4-6+ laughs per minute for each performing minute to generate headliner level audience responses.
That’s 4-6+ punchlines per minute. Just knowing that benchmark for headlining comedians alone should positively affect your stand-up comedy material development process and put you head and shoulders above other new comedians who are unaware of it.
But you may not reach that level of laughter your first out of the shoot. Don’t be discouraged.
Video tape your set for performance improvement review/action before your next show.
4. Don’t be afraid of rework. It is an integral part of the stand-up comedy material development process that few can avoid.
For example, the re-positioning of a single word or word group phrase in a punchline can make the difference between an OK laugh and a huge laugh on stage.
You can also use Comedy Evaluator Pro to pinpoint punchlines that didn’t work well and need editing, replacement or deletion, long set-ups, laughs per minute etc.
One thing I know from personal experience…
You will also feel more accomplished once you have had your stage time if you are truly ready and prepared right from the start–before you ever hit the stage.
But do some recon first. Just check out ANY stand-up comedy open mic night. Stay until the end, no matter how painful it may be.
Take notes on what you saw in those who did poorly on stage. Use your gut reactions and pay close attention because at this point, you are seeing what the audience sees and is NOT reacting to.
That’s some powerful information about what NOT to do when you are on stage.
Also, identify who the real players are and who can actually deliver stand-up comedy material that works. Make a note of what they did differently than everyone else. Use this knowledge to your advantage as well as you prepare for your own performances.
Determine for yourself if being prepared to dominate that stage as comedian, even as a newbie — is a better approach than what you will witness with your own eyes.
You will also have a very good idea why it doesn’t take much to stand out from the crowd, if that is your goal and you have comedy talent.