If you've ever thought about doing standup comedy you should read this.
Comedy is a great. If you can't afford therapy and don't really mind outing all of your dirty shame for the world to see, then you might have what it takes to be a comic. Every form of comedy has its own unique cadence and style that makes trying to compare them difficult and downright pointless. It's like comparing apples to pornography. But for most, standup comedy stands apart because that's the way many of the titans of the entertainment industry got their start in Hollywood. The origins are the same for almost all comedians, from Jim Carey to Jerry Seinfeld to Bill Cosby; they all started out doing standup. For any aspiring comedians out there who happen to read this, there are some things you need to know before you grab a mic and start slinging jokes like a humor whore; peddling her funny for cash, ramen and papas love.
Tasty suade rebellion
Now, depending on what kind of person you are and the kind of sense of humor you've developed, the statement that "comedy is hard" could be about as true as your denial that you have a WoW account (complete and utter bullshittery). But for most comics, developing a routine is one of the most difficult things they will ever do. Let's say your group of friends has that one proverbial "funny guy" and that person happens to be you. Lucky son of a gun. You are always the one pulling pranks and getting drunk and shaving superfluous eyebrow hair off your buddies-just in general the one responsible for the bulk of the awesome stories that you and your friends tell at local bar mitzvahs and arbor day festivities. One day someone convinces you to go up and try your hand at a comedy open mic because "you should totally be a standup comedian man. I heard this one guy talk about his wife and how he doesn't understand airplane food and you're totally funnier than him. You're totes the ballz mane lul." So you're there and you are ready to go, with your excita-boner erect and at the ready for the praise and adulation you are bound to receive for your awesome set and insight into all things mundane and silly. As your name gets called and you are introduced to a smoky room of indifferent strangers, you'll notice that the light is getting brighter... and brighter... and brighter. Your jokes aren't killing as hard as you thought they would be. And being able to hear your own voice amplified over the silence is starting to freak you out. The silence is getting more pronounced as time starts to come to a screeching halt. Five minutes becomes eternity as you struggle to stutter out your titillating tale of tits and tabasco sauce that no one seems to care about. Turns out that your awesome sauce material kind of sucks or only works as a "you had to be there "scenario, or maybe you just don't do well in front of crowds. Either way you've bombed harder at your first open mic than those guys at Hiroshima. Not the ones in the plane, I mean the ones busy being lumps of radioactive ashen memories on the ground, KUDOS! As it turns out, standup is more than just yelling loudly and publicly hating your wife. Doing standup requires herculean amounts of patience and a really thick skin. The crowd has no reason to like or respect you. At the first moment they become bored or dislike your jokes, they will let you know. As a standup comedian, it is your job to entertain people with your own unique insight on life or relationships or even just on mother fucking sandwiches.
This hits close to home. Case in point, I've been working on this article for about three weeks now and a primary reason I'm trudging forward is because the blood in my alcohol system will not allow me to pass out in the rum and barbeque sauce soaked mass that is my natural state. The problem with writing down new material is that it's hard, and after a while it starts to feel like homework--homework that you don't have to do. "I'm an adult damn it! I should be playing videogames and sexing my night elf. Not sitting here writing! I'm funny on my feet
. Why the hell should I plan this stuff out and need to write anything?" This line of logic is flawed and stupid; you can't sex a night elf unless vagina dentata isn't an issue for you. To truly cultivate a routine; one must write and write, and write and fucking write. Most comedians carry notebooks or some manner of useable paper for writing down ideas. Writing down ideas allows you to revisit them and hash them out to make them even better. Just because an idea isn't funny at first doesn't mean that it cannot be fleshed out to contain substance and style. Writing down your ideas also allows you to maintain a consistent routine and having a consistent routine will allow you to go back and examine your material in a near scientific way (nerd). Let's say you think of something hilarious or life-changing, or maybe the cure for gingers. There is a 90% chance that this idea will not stay the same inside your head. It will change and fade until you either don't remember the joke, or it will be a completely different joke, innovation or eugenics strategy all together. What helps in the writing process is if you have a set time and place to sit down and write. This must be made into a routine, a routine that cannot be broken no matter how much you would like to go home and catch up on 'Breaking Bad' (Gatorade me ,bitch!). Set a time of day and flesh out some ideas alone or with a friend. Having someone sit and write with you is a good way to build on cadence and help set the tone for your material.
Oh boy...the crowd. The crowd is by far one of the greatest builders/crushers of men the world has ever seen. Some people say that Death holds that particular title, but some of those people have never had the honor/punishment of being in front of a large group of people just talking about the random bullshit that happens in their life and hoping that they and the crowd can connect at some level therefore making your seemingly futile existence just a tad bit more palatable. As you will find out, if you decide to do comedy, your own personal Mt. Olympus and Marianas Trench doesn't care about you. All the crowd cares about is your ability to entertain them. And that's ok. The crowd is impartial to how you look or how much money you make or how popular you were in high school, and could give a shit less about what brand clothes you are wearing. If you bring the funny then you have their attention and respect. If you stand up on stage without confidence or presence then the crowd will see that and completely tear you apart like a pinata full of failure confetti. But the great thing about the crowd is that it has just as much good as it has bad. You put in the work. You sat in a coffee shop or mall food court and wrote for hours and ousted all of your dirty shame, delving into those darkest corners of your mind and trying to make that time that the clown at your seventh birthday party took you into the broom closet and licked your face a smidge easier to digest. Now you stand up and face the monstrous mass that has toppled giants and forged legends. Your words slice through the static silence in the air like a sword forged in negligent parenting and tempered in whiskey. You get off stage knowing in your tiny Grinch-like heart that you killed and you'll feel "It." There is no feeling comparable to "It." For "It" is a feeling you get after getting off the stage knowing that you brought you're A-game and won. You did something, something that very few people get to experience and even fewer succeed at. You've taken your first wobbly step into the Gin and depression soaked universe that is standup comedy. KUDOS!