Doing stand up is a lot like being in a play, except there’s no script, no other performers on stage with you and no intermission. Actually, it’s nothing like being in a play at all.
I don’t know why any comedians decide to continue doing stand up after their first experience, which is normally awful. What causes us to come back and do it again?
I think that when I croak, I’ll donate my brain to science and see if they can figure it out. Who would want to subject themselves to harshly critical audiences time after time, week after week until they start getting some laughs?
That’s the way it was for those of us who broke into the business in Hollywood, Chicago or New York. We would wait all night and get three minutes of stage time at midnight and perform in front of a handful of drunk people. Quite glamorous, don’t you think?
What a new comic, like I was, didn’t get was that it takes time to be consistently good, which is what gets you more time on stage. When the club owner/manager sees you really working on your act and getting better, they want to give you more time, and an earlier spot. Why? Because you’re finally getting to the point where you can actually improve the quality of the show.
The show is the product the club has to sell. If the product is good, patrons will return. Who doesn’t like to laugh? If the product is poor, just like in any business, patrons will not buy the product and the business suffers. As a result, there is pressure on the comedians to do well. That kind of pressure can get to you.
Most of us can handle the pressure, while others turn to drugs, alcohol or both. Far too many good comedians have been lost as a result. The answer is to try to relax, be yourself on stage and have fun with the audience. That takes the pressure off, as long as you’re funny. Its not enough to get up and tell jokes. You really have to connect with the audience and be funny in order to succeed.
Have what it takes to be a comedian? Get this book and find out!
Thanks, folks! I’ll be here all week, two shows on Saturday. Don’t forget to tip your waitstaff.
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