Well, I’m about to be three years old- This May 25th is my third anniversary in stand-up. That’s not much in the world of comedy, but it’s as much as I’ve ever done. It has gotten me many things, such as being recognized at Montage and at Chaos Cafe. I was having a few sincere thoughts about it, and would like to offer you, dear reader, some completely unsolicited advice.
When I was new, I got laughs by accident. I got superstitious about it. The first time I had a good set at an open mike, I never wanted to go back and “ruin” it. A lot of new comics dwell on and overanalyze their first set, their second set, and it doesn’t really matter. They say, I bombed, or I killed, and neither one is true. You’re not good enough to bomb. You got lucky.
The first time a person gets up to do stand-up, it might be interesting, it might be funny, it might be good writing- but it won’t be great stand-up. There are too many microskills that need to be formed. You just have to do it again and again. The good news is that taking a microphone out of a stand 100 times makes you pretty slick at it.
Truly bombing is a gift- if you can survive a room hating you thoroughly, then you know that nothing can be worse than that, and you can get past it.
Where I am now: I can get laughs pretty consistently. It’s still like a magic trick, I don’t know quite how it’s done but I can do it.
Here is some of the best of the many pieces of advice that more skilled comics have given to me:
Don’t disengage between jokes, keep eye contact with the audience.
The longer the setup, the bigger the laugh needs to be at the punch.
Write a hundred jokes on a premise and cut down to what works.
Try to match the crowd’s energy. Don’t scream at a mellow room, or whisper to an excited, party room.
And my advice is: The first mistake every comic makes is: Talking too fast. Slow down.
The second mistake is different for everyone. You’ll figure it out.