My first (proper) stand up comedy set

Last night I performed my very first open mic stand up comedy set. This was a big personal milestone for me and is my first completed resolution of 2010.

I performed a five minute set that I have been working on in my stand up comedy class. It’s essentially a cut down version of the speech I performed at the Toastmasters Stand up comedy night, with a few rude jokes added in. I practiced it a lot over the weekend, and even got to rehearse it in front of my class the night before. On the night I turned up two hours early and nervously paced around the area rehearsing my set under my breath.

It was at the Comedy Palace in San Diego. Every Tuesday night they hold a new material night where comedians get five minutes to try out their jokes. The audience was mostly other comedians waiting to go on stage and a few of their friends. I was ninth on the list, so I had a while to wait. I was impressed with the other comedians I saw, most of them were trying out new jokes, some hit some didn’t, but they were engaging the audience and improvising which made their sets a relaxed and conversational. I was very impressed with the host, Christian Spicer, who improvised a joke after each set before introducing the next person.

After I was introduced I went on stage and said “How about a round of applause for our host”. It was very strange hearing my own voice, mainly because I’d bean hearing American accents all night, and now I was hearing my English accent very loudly. It’s like when you’re watching a Hollywood movie and an English actor appears, their voice sounds strange. The audience weren’t expecting an English accent either and I heard someone say “Oh wow!”. I was expecting this and had a joke about accents ready at the top of the set.

The biggest surprise about being on stage is that you can’t see anything. The lights dazzle you and all you can see is a bright white haze. I felt very enclosed and alone up there. I couldn’t see anyone.

I ran through my jokes. Some did well, others didn’t. I got one big laugh in an unexpected place, which was nice. Overall it went pretty well, and I can use the recording to identify the best bits and cut/rework the rest.

Afterwards I felt great. It’s quite an adrenalin rush, and I finally got to have a couple of beers which I’d been avoiding before hand. I think the most important thing now is to keep the momentum up by performing regularly and writing/reworking jokes. I’m going to another open mic this Friday so I’ll be able to try an improved version of the same material.

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  1. Martin Smith
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink


  2. Posted March 18, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Congrats! Glad to hear it went well, you’ll be addicted before you know it ;-)

  3. Andrew
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Cheers Martin!

  4. Andrew
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Tom, thanks a lot. Clearly I wouldn’t have done this if I hadn’t been to so many of your gigs. Feels good to finally say I’ve given it a go.

  5. Posted March 22, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Awesome, well done!

  6. Andrew
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Cheers Alex!

  7. Posted March 28, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Congrats on your first time Andrew! You’re right that the most important thing is to keep the momentum going. It’s great that you recorded your set, try to do that every time, as it will help you improve faster. It’s much easier to cut out a joke you like when it hasn’t gotten laughs five straight times on tape than when you just know you like it. Recording is great though, I know I barely remember being on stage most of the time and I forget the improvised stuff I say.


  8. Andrew
    Posted March 28, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Hi Ben, thanks. Great advice, I’m doing my best to record everything on my voice recorder. I’m doing my 5th open mic tonight so I’ve actually got lots a few sets that I need to listen back to.

  9. Raj
    Posted April 5, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Dude, this is fucking awesome. 2010 still feels so embryonic but this put a big fat smile on my face… Well Done!

  10. Andrew
    Posted April 5, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Cheers Raj! Good to hear from you. I know you were thinking about giving it a go, have you done it yet? It’s a serious adrenaline rush.

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