Comedians may have one of the more difficult yet rewarding jobs. There is no one to rely on except themselves. Comedians become successful by fine-tuning their acts to fit their personality. Developing a style is a necessity to become a successful comedian. You must communicate to the audience why something is funny.
- Skill level:
Determine which comedy style fits your personality. Do you speak loud or soft? Are you really animated or do you barely move? Can you tell long, funny stories or are you better with one liner jokes? Answering these questions will help you develop your style.
Study comedians that perform with your style. Attend comedy clubs, watch comedy specials and download video or audio (legally) of professional comedians. Observe speaking patterns, storytelling and punch line delivery. Dane Cook will speak fast, loud and run around on stage, while Steven Wright speaks softly and barely moves.
Make your material personal. Make a list of your faults, insecurities and failures. Talk about topics that make you happy, sad or angry. Audiences want to feel a personal connection to you. A good exercise to practice is freestyle writing, which involves writing down whatever enters your mind. Do not try to be funny or censor yourself. Let your mind wander while you write. You will be surprised what may come out of your head.
Try list jokes. These typically involve three ideas. The first two are similar and the third is opposite. For example, you might say, "some people travel to Europe, others to the Caribbean, I travel to the IHop."
Write comparison jokes. These ironically point out differences. "My wife's idea of quality time is cuddling in bed, my idea of quality time is being away from my wife."
Use similes to enhance something by comparing it to something ridiculous. They give an audience a mental picture of absurdity. "He looked like Dick Cheney in a Speedo."
Include observations in your material. These point out everyday absurdities. Jerry Seinfeld is the most famous comedian that uses observations.
Use mimicking as part of your act. This involves impersonating someone. Frank Caliendo is famous for his impersonation of football announcer John Madden. Mimics may also be short impersonations of someone in your life.
Get to the punch line fast. A long, drawn out setup will lose the audience's attention. They may forget the premise of your joke.
Practice your routine. The best way to adjust your timing is to perform in front of a group of strangers. Your friends may tell you something is good when it really is bad, while strangers are more likely to be straightforward. Get on stage as often as possible to test out your style. Check with your local newspaper for clubs, bars or coffee shops that offer stand up open mic nights.
Perform as an amateur in comedy clubs. Once you have fine-tuned your act, find the nearest comedy club that will allow you to get on stage for a few minutes. This is the best way to start a reputation and network as a comedian.
Tips and warnings
- Try to be as original as possible. Comedians become successful when they are able to offer an original take on topics that have been beaten into the ground.
- Stealing jokes will earn you a bad reputation as a comedian.