Advice for new comic.
I had a new comic come up to recently and ask, “What is one piece of advice you can give to me about doing standup?” I said, “Don’t suck.” I was later told he thought I was a dick for saying that.
Listen: Ask a broad question, expect to get a broad answer. I think – like a lot people – he wanted some magic bullet that will make everything easy. If you ask a boxer how to not get knocked out, he’ll probably tell you, “Don’t get hit.” If that comic would have asked me, say, “How do you handle this situation?” or, “When I’m doing bla bla bla, what should I do when…?”, my “being a dick” switch might have not been triggered.
So are a few things any new comic should remember, in no order of importance:
1. When you first walk on stage, take a breath before you jump into your shit. Let the audience look at you for a second: They need time to decide if you dress like a slob, or if you look funny, or if they have the same shoes; women are deciding if they would sleep with you, guys are deciding if they can beat your ass for making their woman want to sleep with you.
2. Remember: They hired baby sitters, fought through traffic to get to the club, searched for parking, are now paying a 2 drink minimum (on overpriced drinks), coming straight from work, or maybe have been forced by friends to come. Show them some gratitude and they will give it back.
3. (It really bugs me when people do this): DON’T ASK QUESTIONS BEFORE EVERY JOKE. “So how many people here have dogs?” then going into the dog bit; “How many people have cars?”, then into car bit. In doing so, you are asking the audience’s permission to tell the joke, which will read like a lack of confidence. What if – in the above example – no one claps when you ask who has dogs? You’re still probably going to do the bit anyway, right? Then don’t ask! You are not able to ask questions on TV, so don’t get in the habit now.
4. STOP ALREADY with the, ‘How you guys doing tonight (waits for applause)? Oh, COME ON, you can do better then that!!!” I have at times heard the sound guy say this, then the emcee, and then the middle… by the time the headliner gets onstage, the crowd is thinking, ” Hey F^^&&* faces, tell some jokes! We’d be ‘doing better’ if you stopped asking!”
5. Be okay with the silence. It’s natural.
6. Don’t get in the habit of doing shots before the show. www.aa.org
7. Focus on working on YOUR set. Don’t waste your energy ripping apart some other “hacky” comedian’s act. It won’t make you a better writer/performer.
(By now, you’re thinking, “Man dude, you haven’t said one thing about writing jokes.” When you learned to walk, your parents probably showed you how to put one foot in front for the other, and you most likely fell on your ass a bunch of the time. When did you stop falling? When you learned BALANCE. You had to learn that yourself. Think of these as balance tips…okay, back to the list.)
8. Get on stage as often as you can. I repeat: Get onstage as often as you can.
9. Don’t get in a habit of trying to do every joke you wrote in your set list. All you will do is be in a rush to get done. Relax.
10. Tip the wait staff and have a safe ride home. Peace, love, GOODNIGHT!
ps. Don’t Suck.
(new comics check out my new site