I am a big fan of stand up comedy. It's an art form I've appreciated for years and something I've always wanted to take a stab at, but had no idea where to start. I like to write and I knew that was a large part of the battle, but writing and being funny is a completely separate entity. How much do you need to write? How do you write it? Am I even funny? When I found out that a local comedy club would be hosting a stand up comedy class, I decided to enroll and give it a shot. On day one, I learned some very important stand up comedy tips for beginners.
My first assignment was to come up with two minutes of material. My teacher instructed us that two minutes of material is usually around one typed, double spaced page using your favorite word processor. Sounds easy right? Sit down and give it a whirl! This really put some things into perspective for me. I watch a lot of stand up comedy, and comedy specials are generally an hour long. Translated into the aforementioned formula, that's 30 pages of written material that has to be funny. That's a very daunting task. It took me a few hours to write two mediocre minutes and I was armed with some of the tips listed below.
Four stand up comedy tips for beginners:
- You're going to bomb. Get used to it. You're going to write a lot of material and a lot of it's not going to be funny. The only way to know whether or not your material is funny is to present it to people. If you're afraid to bomb, you'll never know if your material will actually make a room full of people laugh.
- Don't steal jokes. EVER. Don't rework a joke that you heard and that you thought was funny. If you wrote a joke and you hear a similar version of that joke by a well known comedian on TV, live, radio, etc., ditch the joke. Them's the breaks.
- Record yourself - delivery is important. My delivery is terrible. You need to sound confident and have a bit of stage presence. If you record your bits, you'll be able to better gauge your verbal execution. This may be the difference between a chuckle and a big laugh.
- Don't be a hack - if a joke comes very easy to you at first, there's a chance that it may be hacky. No one wants to hear a Lindsay Lohan drunk driving joke, or ANYTHING about a Kardashian. We get it.
I performed my first two minutes of stand up comedy two weeks ago. I got some really big laughs and I also had a few stinkers. It was a very nerve wracking experience, but getting big laughs on material I spent time writing was a really, really good feeling. As stated earlier, my execution was terrible. I sounded nervous and wasn't very confident, but the only way to get around that is to keep writing and keep getting up there. I'll be moving to California soon and will have to miss some of my comedy classes, but based on the info I learned early on I feel like I have a good foundation to keep writing new material. If you were ever curious about the process yourself, I hope I shed a little bit of light for you!
Have you ever taken a comedy class or wanted to pursue stand up? I'd love to hear your story.
About the Author: Larry is a friend of House Party. Larry currently resides in the East Bay region of California. He enjoys all things wine related, and spends a lot of his free time in Napa and Sonoma learning about wine. Larry is also a Mixed Martial Arts enthusiast. He enjoys practicing, watching, analyzing and commentating on all things MMA. Larry also enjoys cooking, fine dining, entertaining and hanging out with Maximus, his Jack Russell Terrier.