Successful stand up comedians need more than a talent for being funny. Stand up comedians also need some smarts and a talent for improv and “working a crowd.” The following tips will take you from funny guy to professional stand up comedian.
1. Know Who Your Audience Is – When working out your material for a show, keep who your audience is in mind. A comedy set that will work for a rowdy out-of-towner convention of toilet salesmen may not work for a company’s annual afternoon family picnic. Do your research and know whom you will be performing for so that your set is both funny and appropriate.
2. Memorize Your Set – This doesn’t mean you can’t veer off with some improv or totally go in a new direction once you’ve started, but never step foot on stage not knowing where you will begin or what you will say. Lead your audience into your set and let them know where you’re going. This will help you avoid the dreaded “train wreck”; or “lack of direction”; comedy set.
3. Realize That Everyone Will NOT Love You – It’s hard for many comics to digest, but every person in every audience you perform for will not think you are incredibly fabulous and may not be totally receptive to your set. Get over it quickly and move on. Who cares if everyone doesn’t think you are brilliant… do you think every other comic is brilliant?
4. Bring It – From the second you step foot on stage, bring it… “it” being confidence. Your audience will have formed an opinion of you before you even hit the microphone, so with that first step grab their attention, be confident, and bring your winning “I’m funny” attitude.
5. Own the House – Come on stage and take control. Own the house. People are relaxed and ready for laughs when they sense a comedian is in control. A nervous comedian makes for a nervous audience.
6. Make Adjustments – Don’t be a stickler for your pre-written set. If something isn’t working, move on and make adjustments on the spot to fit your audience.
7. Control the Audience – Never let your audience take control… always control your audience. Don’t ignore hecklers, learn to take them down quickly with sharp comebacks and move on fast. If you give control to your audience, you will never get it back and you can guarantee your set will be a disaster.
8. Take Acting Classes – Acting classes, especially those involving improvisation, will improve your stand up performances. Improvisation and acting classes will help you get better at ad-libbing, quick comebacks, and will improve your comedy characters, impersonations, and your overall performances. The best people in the entertainment industry never stop learning.
9. Find the Funny – Try to make a joke out of everything you can. If you look for the funny in even the smallest of situations, you will never be lacking in material for your act.
10. Audition… For Everything – What better way to learn to be in control when in front of an audience than auditioning? Audition for everything that comes your way in the entertainment industry, including auditions for television, movies, commercials, theater, reality shows, open mic spots, and more.