Advice for a First Time Standup Comic
Anyone else want to add suggestions? @AliceWetterlund? This one's for you @hollis
- •Don't just book your first show; book your first week of shows.The first time I did standup, I bombed. It took me three months to get up the courage to try again. The second time, I planned a whole week's worth of open mikes. That was what enabled me to really do it. You're going to bomb early; if you let each experience become a referendum on whether you should be trying it at all, you'll never make any progress.
- •If you take the microphone out of the stand, put the stand behind you.You'd likely never think of it, but the microphone stand between you and the audience creates an awkward line of sight.
- •Don't make fun of yourself for bombing - and if you do, only do it once.The audience isn't paying as much attention to your performance as you are. They may be smiling, vaguely paying attention and not even thinking much about it. If you tell them you're bombing, they'll believe you. Sometimes, if it's the elephant in the room, acknowledging that you're bombing can be a Get Out of Jail Free laugh; but only play this card once.
- •Open with your silver, close with your gold.The first minute of your act is just a "getting to know you" minute, with your audience like a dog smelling your hand and feeling safe with you, figuring out if they've seen you before, etc. Don't burn your very best material in the first minute because they're not fully paying attention to it yet.
- •Never say it's your "first time doing stand up."I am an idiot and I did this. I "killed" because people felt bad for me/ we're excited by the novelty and then I bombed for 3 months straight and was confused. This is really specific but maybe it's a general note about reading audience reaction. Laughs can mean all sorts of things, I've found.
- •DON'T bring your friends to watch youYou'll do it, but avoid it like the plague especially in the beginning. You will become overly confident in your material (which is bad for you in the beginning. You won't be doing those jokes in a year and you don't want your friends getting attached to your early work because it's about them probs), and you need them later on when you get the bigger shows!
- •Do open micsOpen mics are a bummer if you don't play them the right way. Go, make friends, watch as many people as you can do poorly and make mental notes on why it's bad. Don't internalize the badness tho, just let it inform what you want to do.
- •Write for yourself.Always make sure you're writing things that you genuinely think are funny and feel true to you. When I started I did a joke about smoking weed, and it killed. The problem: I didn't smoke weed. And it felt slimy every time I told it. I stopped, and now I'm embarrassed when I think about telling it. Laughs, especially when you start, are an amazing drug, and are important, but don't tell jokes you don't like just to get them. (But this doesn't mean you don't need to make people laugh.)Suggested by @eliyudin