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View Full Version : I'm thinking about doing stand-up comedy. Anyone here ever do it?



underthecity
01-30-2008, 09:45 PM
I'm not joking. I've always loved watching stand-up comedians. I listen to stand-up comedy on XM at work. After watching some of the comedians on a recent Comedy Central stand-up marathon, I realized, hey, I could do that. I mean, why couldn't I try?

So I wrote down a few jokes/life observations and on Monday night I "performed" them in front of a friend of mine. This was just for me to get a feeling of actually "doing" comedy in front of someone. He laughed a few times, but understandably said I needed a lot of work. Of course I did. I wrote those jokes earlier that day.

I'm thinking about actually going farther with this. Streamlining the jokes and making an act out of them. Rehearse them more by myself and eventually perform them in front of a few people in the living room. Eventually, maybe, do an amateur night at the Laff Hole or someplace.

Has anyone here ever done stand-up? I purchased an e-book on the subject and have started reading it, so I'm trying to learn the basics of it.

I don't intend to "become" a stand-up comic any time soon: I've got a novel to finish revising, a car to work on, and ten other projects that are in various stages of development. I don't need anything else.

But, doing it at least once, on a stage, at the Laff Hole, would fulfill a personal fantasy of mine.

And if something develops from it, that would be awesome.

(And I'm no Dane Cook or Bill Cosby. Just a regular guy starting out.)

allen

quickWit
01-30-2008, 09:58 PM
I have no advice to give, just wanted to offer my admiration for your courage and pursuit of your personal fantasy.

Best of luck, brother!

Gravity
01-30-2008, 10:13 PM
I did it one time. 20+ years ago, for my high school boosters show. Stupid me, I'd forgotten how big that stage was. It also never occurred to me that some of my former teachers would be in the audience (which there were), leaving me in the unenviable position of trying to coax laughs from the very people who'd told me to "cut the comedy, Robinson" in their classes.

All in all, I didn't do too badly (garnered a few laughs), but suffice it to say I won't be causing Steve Martin to lose any sleep.

Plus, I'm already a writer; how much more rejection does a guy really need?

JeanneTGC
01-30-2008, 10:18 PM
From what I've heard, it's pretty hellacious when you bomb.

But when you kill...there's nothing better.

Go for it, Allen!

BTW, Dane Cook made his name by utilizing MySpace. No reason you can't hone your act and do the same.

robeiae
01-30-2008, 10:21 PM
Not counting my wedding day, no I've never done any.

Plot Device
01-30-2008, 10:26 PM
My screenwriting teacher did stand up comedy for a number of years in the New York City area. He did a lot of the comedy clubs and said one of the newer, younger, not-so-good stand up comics who also did gigs at the same clubs he performed in was a guy named Ray Romano. He said Ray was kind of boring and didn't really jazz up the audience very much at all. But my teacher didn't stick around too long to get to know Ray because my teacher was able to land a position as the on-board comic for a cruise ship line. And then after a few years at sea he was able to save up enough money (he said the cruise ship gave him free room and board, and also paid people in good old cash) to go to grad school in Los Angeles at USC to get his MFA in screenwriting. But then a few years after graduation, while living in Los Angeles and making a living as a writer, he heard about this hot new comic star on TV named Ray Romano. My teacher was floored because as he recalled Ray was only a mediocre comic in New York. But then when he began to WATCH Ray's TV show, he realized that Ray's problem back in New York was that he hadn't yet found his niche: Ray's treasure trove of comedy lay in his stories about his family, and Ray evidently didn't realise until months (or even years) after my teacher went on the cruise ships that his own family jokes were the gold mine that would propel him to success.

Moral of the story: find your comedic niche and go with it.

underthecity
01-30-2008, 11:14 PM
Thanks for the encouragement. I think the toughest thing for me to do is come up with funny punchlines for my jokes. I've spoken in front of groups before, both with giving talks about my book subjects and giving slideshow presentations. But those are scripted. Stand-up must be memorized and performed.

Also, it felt so awkward to perform my small repetoire of stand-up humor in front of my friend. You hear recordings of stand-up comics in front of audiences, and the audience laughs and applauds. In the living room, it's just one person. Silence, and a periodic laugh.

How do you know if a joke is even funny?

Here's one on my list.

So a lot of people love doing karaoke. My wife, for instance, has a nice singing voice, and when she sings, well, it's like the end of It's a Wonderful Life when the little girl says "Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings." I think that every time my wife sings, an angel gets its wings. But not when I sing. When I sing, I think the opposite happens. Every time I sing, I think an angel gets sent to hell. (Or an angel dies, not sure which.)

Anyway.

That's one example of my underdeveloped jokes. Is it funny? Adam laughed a little. Of course, it's all in the delivery and timing. I read that professional comics rehearse their jokes for hours. I just rehearsed for minutes, so I'm a little behind in the game.

allen

Joe270
01-30-2008, 11:35 PM
Break a leg, Allen. I've thought about it, too, but I know I'd bomb. I'm too long winded, the jokes take too long to set up.

From observation, it seems they must be kept short. If you set up something that'll take two or three minutes, there must be consistent little laughs in the build-up.

I never had the nerve, although I have no problem with speaking in front of large crowds. I just knew I'd bomb so badly the Pentagon would try to weaponize me.

maestrowork
01-30-2008, 11:41 PM
Allen, the Funny Bones at the Levee has classes and a training program and it ends with a public performance to hone your skills. If you're serious about being a stand-up, you should think about that. With the program, you get to learn about your own style, what's funny and not, and how to gauge the audience's reactions, etc. Not to mention you have a chance to test your jokes in front of a live audience at the end of the program.

Comedy clubs also have amateur nights or open mic. It's a good place to try out your materials, etc. If you bomb, you bomb, but at least you get some stage experience.

A friend of mine is a pretty successful stand-up comedian. It's not an easy life (she's on tour 200 days a year but she's been on HBO, etc.)

underthecity
01-31-2008, 01:11 AM
Ray,

If I didn't already have too much going on, I might look into comedy classes. Problem is, if I do one thing, the other doesn't get done: I write article. Book doesn't get done. I work on car. Book doesn't get done. I write book. Car doesn't get done. I take comedy classes. Nothing else gets done. Wife starts getting mad: Are you ever going to finish the car? The book? The article? Everything else?

So right now, comedy is just a dream. Writing jokes and developing the routine won't take all of my time. I can work it in here and there. But taking classes requires a commitment I just can't make right now.

I plan to stop by the Funny Bone, though, and check out Amateur Night on February 13 to see what other new talent is like.

allen

NeuroFizz
01-31-2008, 01:12 AM
Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon this semester. So sad--it's not intentional...

JeanneTGC
01-31-2008, 01:57 AM
Thanks for the encouragement. I think the toughest thing for me to do is come up with funny punchlines for my jokes. I've spoken in front of groups before, both with giving talks about my book subjects and giving slideshow presentations. But those are scripted. Stand-up must be memorized and performed.

Also, it felt so awkward to perform my small repetoire of stand-up humor in front of my friend. You hear recordings of stand-up comics in front of audiences, and the audience laughs and applauds. In the living room, it's just one person. Silence, and a periodic laugh.

How do you know if a joke is even funny?

Here's one on my list.

So a lot of people love doing karaoke. My wife, for instance, has a nice singing voice, and when she sings, well, it's like the end of It's a Wonderful Life when the little girl says "Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings." I think that every time my wife sings, an angel gets its wings. But not when I sing. When I sing, I think the opposite happens. Every time I sing, I think an angel gets sent to hell. (Or an angel dies, not sure which.)

Anyway.

That's one example of my underdeveloped jokes. Is it funny? Adam laughed a little. Of course, it's all in the delivery and timing. I read that professional comics rehearse their jokes for hours. I just rehearsed for minutes, so I'm a little behind in the game.

allen
Allen, as I READ the joke, it's minor chuckle worthy (and, goes to hell is, to me, funnier). HOWEVER, at least half of stand up is the inflection and the timing. WHEN you say it, HOW you say it, what you do with your hands, body and face while saying it...all of these are at least as important as the joke itself.

You might want to get some stand up videos -- Chris Rock, Bill Cosby, the Kings of Comedy, Blue Collar Tour, etc. -- and see how successful standup are doing it. Not just the jokes, but how they present them. Leno, Letterman, O'Brien, all the late night guys also are doing stand up somewhere in their shows. And cable has plenty of stand up shows. If you want to do it, maybe start by watching these successful comedians not so much to laugh and be entertained, but to study them. Same as taking a course, only more time-friendly.

writerterri
01-31-2008, 02:19 AM
Here's a piece I wrote you can have for 500.00 when you make it big.

You know how the government makes lists and profiles? They should have a list of the profiles of the types of people who shouldn't breed.

Ted Bundy
David Lee Roth
PeeWee Herman
Britney Spears and her parents.


Looking back on the last 10 years with my kids, I'm pretty sure I would be on that list. I wish I was told then. By the way, the kids all take after my husband's side.

So, I took it upon myself to make a list, forged with fake government stamps and I will eventually mail it out to my kids when they get interested in sex. This way, I'm not responsible for babysitting later in life.

"The government told you not to breed! Look at Britney's kids."

"I'm not babysitting. You were warned!"




It was funnier in my head.

Maryn
01-31-2008, 02:43 AM
So a lot of people love doing karaoke. My wife, for instance, has a nice singing voice, and when she sings, well, it's like the end of It's a Wonderful Life when the little girl says "Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings." I think that every time my wife sings, an angel gets its wings. But not when I sing. When I sing, I think the opposite happens. Every time I sing, I think an angel gets sent to hell. (Or an angel dies, not sure which.)

Anyway.

That's one example of my underdeveloped jokes. Is it funny? Allen, you're already getting good advice, and I rarely write humor, but I see two flaws in this joke. Fixable flaws.

It would be stronger if it had a little joke in the middle, poking fun at how very good your wife's singing voice is. The It's a Wonderful Life quote isn't enough but could serve as the basis for something so wonderful as to be ridiculous. (An angel gets its wings, and second-row tickets to Springsteen--with no TicketMaster fee. Or an angel gets his wings, and ribs, and a side of country fries. Like that. Little joke.)

The punchline needs to be much stronger. Not just the angel sent to hell, or dying, but something more detailed and perhaps odder, or gorier. (What if you said it was like pulling the wings off an angel, and watching it stagger around on the screen until it fell to the windowsill? Or if it was like an angel being sent to hell, only to learn that feathers burn at a temperature of 1200 degrees Fahrenheit and stink to high heaven--er, hell--to boot?)

Maryn, who could never, ever stand in front of people and tell jokes

underthecity
01-31-2008, 03:00 AM
Thanks for the feedback.

What I posted, the singing joke, is essentially a rough draft. I liken it to the rough draft of my novel. The ideas are there, but it must be developed. So, while it might cause a chuckle, you might also say that there could be more done with it. And I will not argue. It needs more. We'll se what happens with it.

JeaneTGC, I've watched many hundreds of hours of stand-up over the last twenty years or so, including this past Sunday. I know I'll have to work on the delivery and body language, but it'll happen. It takes practice, rehearsing, etc.

I'll see what happens!

allen

Don Allen
01-31-2008, 03:02 AM
What I do. 1- 2 shots of whiskey before I hit the stage 2 - forget jokes and start thinking material. 3-Charactors and voices that rock. 4-delivery comes from practice, hit all the freebie clubs you can find and work your stuff. 5-forget friends and family, they just laugh to be kind. 6- same as a book.... beginning,middle,end. 7 - forget a sitcom start with 5-10 minutes of killer stuff. 8-save best for last, always leaving them wanting more. 9 - ALWAYS have an old joke in your pocket to pull out if you're crashing.
Here's an ex. Little boy sitting in front of a church with a bucket of gasoline, washing his hands in it. Preacher comes by and asks, "Son, why do you wash with that there gasoline." Little boy says, "well sir, this here is the most powerful liquid in the world andit makes me feel good to touch it." "No my son,"the preacher replies, "Holy water is the most powerfull liquid in the world, did you know that placing two drops of Holly water on a pregnant woman's belly and she will pass a boy... "Well, gee whiz father," the little boy countered. "If you put two drops of this here gasoline on a cats ass, he'll pass a motorcycle."

WerenCole
01-31-2008, 07:31 AM
It was always a dream of mine.. . . except I found that I am only funny about one-fifth of the time. That would make me better than most comics though. . .