Eight tips every comedian should know who hopes to one day truly stand-out among their peers according to Mr. Rod Millwood from thelaffhouse.com
1. No discussion can take the place of experience, and that’s pretty much all that counts when it comes to stand-up comedy. It’s true you “learn-by-doing”. The more chances you get, you must perform, and the more you’ll be able to learn. Going from club to club or open mic to open mic.
2. You’re not going to bring the house down every time you step on stage, particularly in the beginning. That means, from time to time, you’re going to find out what it’s like to bomb, and that’s ok; bombing can be very useful. You will learn which parts of your act aren’t working and possibly why. You will quickly find out how you react in these situations. If nothing else, the experience of bombing will be unpleasant enough that it will make you work harder on your act to avoid it ever happening again. Fear can be a powerful motivator.
3. Even when you’re working up new material, don’t forget to keep your old stuff fresh. Maybe you’ve got a great setup, but, there’s a punchline or tag that will make a joke work even better. There’s always room for improvement; go back occasionally, and punch up older jokes with new tags or punchlines.
4. Don’t steal other comedian’s jokes. Just don’t. Don’t even “borrow” or “rephrase.” It’s never good, other comedians will talk about that you just use John Does joke. That will put you in a room by yourself, which will end your stand-up career very quickly. Even if it’s unintentionally or subconsciously or whatever — It’s not worth being labeled as a thief which is ultimately what will happens.
5. Always be sure to stay within the time slot given to you by a promoter, club manager or open mic organizer. It’s rude and unprofessional to go longer than your allotted time; remember, there are other comedians that are following you, and they should get every minute they’ve been promised. It’s also unprofessional to do less time on stage than what you’re expected to deliver. That puts an unfair pressure on the comic after you to fill in the gap and perform longer than he or she had anticipated. Even if you’re bombing, you’re expected to fill a certain slot and you should fill it. You want to establish a reputation for yourself as being a professional, and sticking to your time slot is a good way to do that.
6. If you’re able to take video or audio recording of your performance, you’ll be able to go back and watch or listen yourself to see what worked and what needs changing. This shows where you talking too fast? Did you step on laughs from the crowd? A videotape will give you the opportunity to examine and reflect on your performance so you can make changes for the future. You must always carry a notebook to write your jokes down and practice them.
7. If you’re not ready to get on stage at a comedy club yet, open mic night is always a great start, you should still try to get out and see as much live comedy as you can. With every comedian, you’re going to be learning something new; study the ones you like and learn from the mistakes of the other ones.
8. Just because you’ve seen other comics insult their audience does not mean you should. If you’ are feeling strapped for material or if someone is heckling you. Of course, you should respond in that instance, but watch how far you take it. It can be very easily to alienate your audience, and you always want them on your side. You never know if an audience member is going to take a joke the wrong way.