Being a stand-up comedian isn’t necessarily an easy path. You need to know how to harness unique skills to keep your audience laughing, which can sometimes be challenging.
- Study the greats, and pay attention to how successful stand-up comedians act on stage
- Authenticity and originality will go a long way
- Write comedy and new content every day
- Practice as much as you can
- Understand that many comedians have stage fright, and you must find ways to push through!
- Tell your audience a personal story about you
- Develop your observational skills and self-awareness
Here are seven of the best tips out there for improving your next comedy presentation.
See Related: 5 Skills All Comedians Must Possess
#1. Watch A Successful Stand-Up Comedian
Comedy is one of the most challenging forms of entertainment, requiring a lot of skill, talent, and timing. But with the right approach and some practice, almost anyone can become a successful comedian!
Often, when we want to get good at something, we study other works that have been successful. For example, if we want to be writers, we read best-sellers. If we want to be an artist, we look at what made famous art pieces so noteworthy.
The same principle can be applied to comedy. If you want to improve your comedy skills, watch other comedians and see how they do it!
Go To Your Local Comedy Club For Starters
Take in all the comedy you can. There’s no such thing as too much!
Attend live shows if you can, and definitely catch up on any comedy shows on TV. Open mics or comedy clubs will be your best friend.
And always pay attention to how noteworthy comedians set the stage. Focus on how they set up ideas and how those ideas are transformed into jokes. Stay alert to how they deliver punchlines – every detail counts!
If you’re looking to make it as a stand-up comedian, you won’t make it far if you turn a blind eye to what others are doing. It lets you get feedback on what works and what doesn’t without having to do it yourself.
Take, for example, our team here at Clean Comedians. We know exactly how to keep an audience entertained without restoring to crude or divisive topics. Our shows can help you see first-hand how real comedians work!
#2. Be Authentic And Original
The best comedians are true to themselves while maintaining a unique style and perspective. This will set you apart from others and help solidify you as a genuine comedian!
Audience members can tell right away when a comedian is less than themselves. It’s easy to identify entertainers that aren’t original or authentic. Not only is the delivery a little off, but stolen jokes are also easy to pick up on.
Maybe it sounds a little cliché to say “just be yourself.” But there’s a reason why everyone always says that. It’s true!
Bring Your Real Self On Stage
A common question comedians have is, “Why am I funny to my friends but not to an audience?” And the answer lies in authenticity.
With friends and other people we’re close to, it’s easy to let our true selves shine through. But stepping on stage can be a little daunting, and that’s when we may naturally start to turn off our original humor.
Great comedy involves understanding the basics of jokes and entertainment. But there’s much more that goes into it. You need to be able to open up your authentic self and use that to keep your audience laughing!
#3. Write Skits And Jokes Everyday
If you want to get better at something, you need to do it over and over. Repetition is critical to success. So, if you want to improve your comedy writing skills, you must do it daily.
Even if you don’t feel like writing some days, make sure you hold yourself accountable. Don’t miss more than one day in a row. A day off is fine now and then, but if you want to improve, don’t give up!
Even just 10 minutes will do the trick. Writing every day keeps your brain active and thinking about new content while keeping it all fresh in your memory.
Plus, when you come back to writing the next day, your brain will still remember the feeling of thinking up new ideas from the day before. Each day it will get easier and easier to write new content!
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#4. Practice And Then Do It Some More
Here’s something that will never go out of style. Everyone knows that to get better at anything, practice makes perfect. At least, that’s what our dads always said.
But when it comes to comedy, training does help perfect your content, delivery, and jokes. This tip might seem a bit redundant, but we want to address it nonetheless.
Often, new comedians are obsessed with the idea that there is a secret sauce that will help them turn a dull, drab show into something full of life, color, and laughter. But what they don’t realize is that this supposed secret sauce is just the ending result of hard work and application.
To achieve this end result, you must focus on disciple and diligent practice. All of your skills will improve when you take the time to get better. Rehearse on stage or at home.
But any opportunity you have should be devoted to honing your craft!
Even if you have stage fright, putting yourself out there is important. It’s not as big of a deal as you think.
#5. Stage Fright? You’re Not The Only One…
What holds back many beginner comedians is the fear of being on stage. Unfortunately, stage fright is actually one of the most prevalent fears in our world and affects about 40% of the population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
We often feel afraid when we focus too much on ourselves in front of a crowd. While self-awareness is essential on stage, it can have disastrous effects on mental stability when we hyper-fixate on the details.
Nervousness on stage can come out when we’re afraid of what the audience will think or we are scared our jokes aren’t funny. But a crucial part of comedy is rejection. You have to be ready for the audience to now laugh hysterically at all of your content.
It’s Okay To Be Afraid, And Necessary Sometimes!
It’s natural for a crowd to not take to everything you say. But that’s also important to learn how to improve.
It can be hard to shake that frightful feeling when you step into the spotlight. But if you’ve practiced enough, your content should already be solidified in your head.
Just let loose and see where the night takes you!
Yes, we know that is much easier said than done. And it will take practice to overcome your fears if you’re naturally afraid of speaking in front of a crowd. It won’t happen overnight, but with enough practice, you’ll soon feel comfortable.
Again, there’s no secret sauce to cure stage fright. You’ll just have to keep practicing until you’re entirely comfortable on stage. Then everything will seem much easier!
No matter what, always remember you’re not alone. Almost all comedians have suffered from nervousness and fear on stage before. But we’ve all survived!
#6. Tell A Personal Story
Storytelling effectively allows speakers to connect to their audience while keeping them entertained. In fact, storytelling has been one of the most effective methods of communication for thousands of years.
Make sure whatever story you choose will help contribute to the vibe you’re trying to curate. And make it real. There are a few reasons why telling your audience a personal story is a great idea in comedy.
Why Stories Are A Must If You’re Doing Stand-Up Comedy
First of all, personal stories give you great content. Everyone loves hearing stories of things that happened to someone else in real life. It’s real, and that makes it relatable.
Secondly, stories can easily be tied into a punchline. Often, newer comics have trouble finding ways to link punchlines to random ramblings. But stories help your content stay grounded.
Another excellent reason for storytelling as a comedian is it helps you remember what you want to say. If you write jokes and a script that you might have trouble remembering, using real-life stories can help keep your content fresh in your mind.
If it actually happened to you, it’s pretty easy to remember!
This will prevent you from memorizing line-for-line your content and then sounding like a robot on stage. No one in the audience will enjoy hearing a comedian read something they have perfectly memorized.
The beauty of comedy comes from improvisation and great stories. So give the audience what they want!
#7. Develop Your Observational Skills
As a comedian, you need to understand the reactions you get from your audience. This will be key to your delivery and to your continued improvement.
For example, many comedians know that audiences laugh when they recognize themselves in your stories. This ties in with tip #6 we gave (you can never go wrong telling a story.)
So, if you’re telling a joke or a personal story, your audience will laugh when they hear about a character they resonate with. Either that or a character that they know in their own lives.
Regardless of the joke, you need to have enough self-awareness during your act to understand your audience’s feedback. Start with the basics. If they laugh, they likely liked what you had to say. If not, well, time to move on.
In fact, the biggest factor of it all is understanding when to move on. Too often, comedians won’t give up on a joke, even when the audience doesn’t take to it. If the crowd doesn’t laugh, move on.
There’s nothing worse than a comedian who tries to make a joke funny over and over when the audience doesn’t react the first time.
Keep Reading: Comedic Timing: 3 Secrets To Mastering This Essential Skill
Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular corporate entertainer, magician, and virtual speaker.