On the look out for stand-up comedy tips

Last night I went along to watch Five Minutes of Fame, an open mic stand-up comedy night organised by Tom Elliott in conjunction with the London Open Mic Comedy Night. I’ve written about how much I enjoyed watching Tom perform at other events, and it’s great to see that he’s keeping up the momentum. The night was well organised, and packed with great acts. Kudos, Tom. Kudos.

I would love to give stand-up comedy a try. It would be an interesting (and humbling) challenge and a serious step outside my comfort zone. Due to these aspirations I’ve been on the look out for tips. Last night I jotted down a few notes, simple Dos and Don’ts based on my observations. I present them here for your consideration:

Have short routine saved for the end

Open-mic slots have a time limit. The comedian will be signalled when they are approaching the end of their set. At this point some comedians have to think on their feet to squeeze the rest of their material into the remaining time. The most organised comedians have a short routine ready for the end of their set meaning they don’t have to worry about time and can end on a big laugh.

Begin with a Joke

The best comedians had the audience laughing right from the beginning. A few comedians chose to begin their set by asking “How’re you guys doing?”. The response was enthusiastic at the beginning of the night, but it soon became stale. It rarely led to a humorous payoff and the repetition made it a cliché.

Be confident with the microphone

The best comedians were purposeful with the microphone. Most took the mic out, moved the stand to one side, then returned the mic to the stand during their final routine. This worked well. One or two of the comediens’ microphone technique was a bit off putting, like speaking while untangling the mic cord or adjusting the height of the stand.

Punch-line, punch-line, punch-line

A couple of the comedians told surreal stories or described bizarre situations. They were amusing, but did not get the audience laughing. Stories need to contain regular punchlines to get a good audience reaction.

And after you deliver a punch-line, move on. Either to another joke, or another punch-line that builds on the previous one. Don’t try to keep the joke going with vacuous statements like “so, that was pretty funny”, or “yeah, ha-ha, *sigh*, oh well”, or simply repeating the punchline.

Final thought..

I was just a spectator and have never summoned up the courrage to perform. This is a list of notes addressed to myself in the event that I ever do make it on stage. They’re not specific critisisms of any of the comedians.

Thanks again to everyone involved in the night, you were all awesome.

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One Comment

  1. Freddie Daniells
    Posted August 28, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi Andrew: if you are interested in doing a course you should get in touch with David Jones. He is organising a course for a few TMers on comedy with the finale being a gig at a comedy venue. I think his first sessions are now full but I am sure he will be collecting names for a future course. Cheers F

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