If you are looking to make it in the world of comedy then you have possibly chosen one of the scariest routes to fame known to mankind; but, before you run in the other direction, know that stand-up is an art that can be perfected and fortune favours the bold.
It goes without saying that to be a good stand-up comedian the material is important but so too is your on-stage persona so honing both is important.
So, know you’ve got your routine and character down, how do you cut it on the circuit?
1. Clock up the hours
Firstly, as with any craft, practice, practice, practice. There is no substitute for the experience you can gain by actually being on stage, performing for an audience and learning from both the highs and the lows of being a stand-up artist. Find as many gigs or open mics as you can and get yourself seen.
Be prepared to have good nights and bad but accept that this is part of the learning curve and, in doing so, ‘learn’ what works and what doesn’t.
2. Round-up support
It’s no bad thing to invite as many of your friends and family to your gigs as you can, particularly when you are just starting out. Having a few familiar faces may help calm your nerves and getting a good reaction could help to get your mojo boosted at the start of your journey.
3. Have a calling card
If people like what they see (whether they are agents or punters) make sure that you have a presence on the internet so they can look you up, contact and, perhaps, book you. A simple website is cheap and easy to set-up and you may have contacts who can help you with this but using resources such as the Talent Bank or YouTube to upload examples of your work is just as helpful. Make sure you only use your best material and that there is a way to contact you.
4. Get into the network
As you start to hit the local circuits you will become familiar with lots of other acts doing the same thing as you. You will also meet the same promoters, club owners and possibly even talent agents. Make sure that you spend time talking to this group of people and that you remain professional when you are in their company.
5. Be mindful of your environment
Your work does not finish when you step off stage but continues at the bar, backstage and when socialising with your friends. Never bad-mouth other acts, agents or venues and be prepared to take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves on a night.
There is a danger that nerves, adrenalin and the relaxed atmosphere of a bar/club could tempt you to sink a few drinks for Dutch courage but be mindful that, if you are serious about breaking into stand-up comedy, this is your place of work. A couple of beers may be fine but don’t get a reputation for being the comedian who runs his mouth off after a gig or behaves badly!
6. Be open to opportunity
You may think that you are ready to hit the ground running at a big venue but jobbing stand-ups should be prepared to take on work of every kind. A spot at an open-mic could lead to corporate work, after-dinner spots or other social events like weddings, birthdays or festivals. Be open to whatever is presented and snatch at every opportunity to perform.
7. Keep working on your material
It goes without saying that you should always be developing both new and old material. Sure, you need to practice and having a fixed set will help you to do this but after a while the same audiences will be turning over your same gig; having new material will keep you from getting stale and from bombing out in front of an over-exposed audience.