How To Be A Comedian

How To Be A Comedian

Avis Acting International

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive while touring is"how to I get into this business?" I have been a professional traveling comedian for 25 years, so I have heard this a lot! In the larger, sense, becoming a comedian is genuinely a three-pronged endeavor.

Compose your material

Hone and create your comedy content (rehearse your"collection")

Get work.

Sound easy enough? Well now comes the complicated part; really doing this. The hard facts are that even if I gave you all the answers just one to two percent of you would actually apply it and go out and do it.

Comedy isn't just an art. It is a skill-based science and also a business enterprise. But most comic books --both professional and novice-- equate comedy with frivolity and they treat their professions frivolously. Like anything worth doing, comedy takes work. It takes work to write new material and it takes more work to go out and get the gigs. Show company is two phrases; there is the"series" and there is the"business" and it might surprise you to understand that much of the time, you have to put more effort into the business than the show. The fantastic news is, if you get it done right, you are having such a blast that you don't really work a day in your life!

Sound like fun? Let's move forward!

Let us start with developing and writing material. There are a great deal of folks out there that think you can not learn comedy, that you're either born with it or you are not. That is a pure and simple fallacy spoken by people that don't have any idea about the science behind bliss or the structure behind it. If you really think about it, have you ever seen a baby pop out of his mother's womb:

"two individuals were making love. . .then boom! Out pops me! Is this thing on?" You call that a birth canal? It's more like trying to push an egg through a stir stick! Hey Mom? (spit, spit), you need to shave that stuff! Haven't you heard of a'Brazilian?'"

It simply does not happen! Granted, there are some people that seem to naturally have a sense of humor built in. They seem to get it. My theory is that they grew up around comedy, either listening to the greats in a young age, or they were raised in a family that was full of humor. Each of the comedians I understand that make me laugh had exposure to amusing people at a young age and began adapting comedic behaviors. Those behaviors got them attention. They started to comprehend the patterns of behaviour and language that resulted in laughter and applied them to other scenarios with great outcomes.

The crucial word from the preceding paragraph is"patterns." There are certain patterns that professionals use time and time again, for laughs and it's usually a pattern that produces surprise. According to individuals who examine humor, in this context, surprise is the number one component that triggers human laughter, If you can surprise someone with what you are going to say, they will usually laugh. One of the easiest ways to do this is to apply one of the 12 big comedy formulas that I found over the years of analyzing the greatest comedians. But you don't even need to study the greats to recognize this formula. If you have a friend (I think we all do), who turns everything you say into a sexual connotation, than he/she is probably applying this formulation. It is known as the"Double Entendre." This literally means"two significance ." You basically take a common term and twist the intended meaning to imply something entirely different, but it could actually fit in the statement, but its exaggerated...

Another day I was at the grocery store. The clerk said,"Did you find everything you were looking for?" I said,"I discovered the wine and the candles, but I could not find a soul mate... You had Mahi-Mahi, but I'm not into twins"

In the aforementioned joke, when the clerk used the phrase"everything," she meant everything in the store. As a comedian the term that which may be a lot of things. In this situation I went with a'soul mate.' What makes the joke work is not merely the misdirection on the intended meaning of the word, but the fact that comedic interpretation of this word still fits inside the context of the question. In case it didn't make sense, then there would not be a joke.

Let's look at another Double-Entendre play on words: Former head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was having a terrible season. At the media conference a journalist said to the trainer,"Coach, how to you feel about the execution of the crime?" McKay responded,"I am all for this."

You can see that the term execute was used in two different ways. This arrangement should be a normal tool for anyone who's learning how to write comedy. One of the ways I refine this capability and also make it more accessible for my daily life is by way of practice. After a month I do a term exercise which reminds me that our language has a ton of words which have several meanings. Keeping this refined in my brain, gives me a tool that is always sharp and accessible. This allows me to re-interpret something somebody says and apply a comedic spin on the term. The exercise is simple, yet extremely strong. For your practice, I take fifteen arbitrary, but fairly common words and write them down. I then find at least five distinct meanings for each word. Working this workout consistently will give you an amazing leg up on your quickness and finesse for a comedian. It is simple, yet extremely powerful. Especially because few comedians really do it. This is but one of twelve big comedy structures used by all the best comedians and comedy writers. If I was to include them all in this article, it would take you a week to finish reading. It's an easy, yet effective illustration of ways to manipulate the English language and make surprise and activate laughter from an audience.

FACT: Each comedian who makes you laugh utilizes a minumum of one comedy architecture. It is the arrangement of the the act-out that triggers the laughter. Without the structure, there's not any laughter. .

Even once you have all twelve comedy structures down, (most comics operate with 3-4), and you also develop an act of at least five minutes, to begin, thirty minutes to start getting paid, you have to start to operate and hone it before an audience. I'd start using buddies. Run the material from themsee what they think, see if you can make it better by tweaking the surprise. As soon as you feel comfortable that you can perform the five minutes without thinking about it, then perform it in front of an audience. How do you do this? Well, if you are in a larger city, there are probably lots of open mics. These are places where you can do 5-10 minutes of material to'test it' in the front of an audience. This is the way I began. If you do not have the benefit of being in a big city, then you might have a comedy series that performs once a week or two once a month on your town at a local bar or restaurant. If that is true, take a trip down there and inquire if you are able to M.C. the show. Most bars which have'one-niter' comedy shows, do not have an M.C.. Therefore, in case you show up and ask, they will most likely be more than happy to have you take action. When you do your five or ten minutes up front, then you can video tape it. Once you have a video tape that's of excellent quality, you have a calling card to get other work. So today you still have to function the'business' side of the how to become a comedian equation. When you've got an act that is generating a laugh each 18-20 seconds, and has a solid beginning, middle and end, it's time to escape there. What most beginning comedians do not realize is that if you hit this degree, (may take 6 months( or two years), it is time to get serious about treating your stand up comedy just like a business. You're now a product (or service), and you want to sell. At this point in your career, you will not have a supervisor or an agent. If you are fortunate enough to have the cash, you can hire a Public Relations manager (around $3500 a month). They will be able to help you get out press releases, spots on the radio or tv. But you have to get a gig to advertise original. However, most of us don't have that option when we're starting out so let us leave this alone. So you have a 30 minute action that you've been developing at open mics and other events like meetings, parties, etc.. How can you get it to the street? At this point you could be looking at several chances in your journey to becoming a comedian:

Targeting the comedy club and also one-niter Sector

Breaking into corporate comedy or speaking engagements.

I really do both clubs and corporates in my career, but today I mostly target corporate simply because there's more money in it for me. There's also the school comedy market, cruise ship market, hotel and casino marketplace, hot up comedian market (for live sit-com, sport and talk show audiences), and military shows. Military shows can be large. I had been working with a liaison for the army who said he would have me working for the remainder of my life doing army shows. We could devote a great deal of time going through all the possibilities, but that may take days. The important issue to remember is that if you can write and create a comedy routine that is good and clean, you can work forever. As soon as you have this information, it is time to target your market, do your research and get started selling. That is appropriate. Start selling. You are your own company at the moment and you supply a service. If you learn to treat yourself like a business by drawing up a business plan, setting goals and following through, you will start to do the job. When you begin in comedy there are 3 positions available. They are each expected to perform for different amounts of time:

Opener/M.C. (15 minutes)

Feature or Mid (sometimes called"premiere") (30 minutes)

Headliner or Closing act (45 mins. -1 hour)

NOTE: This can be business is competitive, but here is something most comedians do not know: If you work hard and you also develop your act and you also develop your reputation for being a fantastic comedian, you WILL WORK! This business and the bookers who provide comedians across the nation are always looking for good talent.

If you would like to aim the club market, you should also target the one-nighter market.This manner you have more booking choices available to you when scheduling moves. How can you target? Start small; begin neighborhood. In case you have comedy in your area, speak to the clubs, visit the clubs, ask the supervisors, door people, M.C.'s what the protocol would be for getting at the door and auditioning or doing a guest collection. Be considerate and be persistent. Jay Leno drove from Boston to the New York City Improv a few days a week for several months prior to Bud Friedman (the owner of the Improv) let him perform a set. He had been prepared. He did a fantastic job. The rest is history. When you get your opportunity, be well prepared and perform a well-crafted 5-10 minute set. Afterwards, talk to folks, see what is needed to return to do another group. As soon as you mingle with people and develop relationships and a reputation for being a good act, now you've got all you need to find work. A lot of comedy talent bookers on the street need to see video. Some will take a chance on you in the event that you have testimonials from a headliners. It's a good idea to develop relationships with as many comedians as you can. Be wonderful to everybody, always act professionally. It is these relationships that could make or break your chances for getting work. Make at least 10 phone calls a day to your career.

Call comedy clubs and bookers. If you do not get them on the telephone, always, I mean always leave a message. Keep exact records on who you spoke to, who the decision maker is, the names of supporters and also the best time to call.

If this sounds like you are a sales person. . .then well, you're. This is the business side of this equation of how to become a comedian and it is where many comedians neglect.

If you do eventually get a booker on the telephone. Be considerate and ask them if you can send them a video and if they prefer to see the movie on the internet or on DVD or even E.P.K. (Electronic Press Kit). Believe it or not, there are still a few bookers out there who would prefer to hold a DVD in their hands.

A few of those bookers are tough nuts to crack. When I run into that dilemma, it is time to make a personal sales call. I simply email or call and ask them,

"I really need to meet with you and play with your area. If I could fly out there in two weeks or so, do you think you could find room on the lineup for a guest set?"

For the roughest bookers from the nation, this has always worked. But how do you manage that? Why your own building your contacts and one-niter gigs, you make sure you reserve something around the region of the club you so covet. Whenever you have that date set up and booked, phone the club and see whether you can drop in and do an audition set. Place in this excess step and you'll most likely get a guest collection.

Once you perform the guest set, send them a thank you card (and or some thing with your picture on it), to thank them for the opportunity and keep up until you get a spot. Never follow up more than once a week, if you don't still have not spoken to the target person, then follow up every 3 days.

Calvin Coolidge said,"persistence and consistency trump talent any day." So be persistent and consistent. Be polite and keep following up. And if calling doesn't work. Pay them a visit. Let them know you're persistent.

When you start setting dates collectively. Utilize every opportunity to tape. Attempt to find great audio quality, if at all possible. A fantastic tape leads to more work.

If you follow those steps:

Write your comedy content

Hone and develop your material (your own"set")

Get work.

You'll be on your way to understanding how to be a comedian.

Present in France, London and the United States, the Avis Acting International theatre and cinema school has been contributing to the emergence of the planet's greatest actors for over 30 years. The educational concept of Acting International, exceptional in its completeness and singularity, is based on the complementarity of global techniques and the bases necessary for learning in direct contact with the demands of today's livelihood. This educational process is continually redefined through the organic interaction of complementary knowledge and proven procedures of a group of renowned masters - French, Russian, American, Italian and English - all busy artists.

The college provides multidisciplinary theater and theatre courses that span a period of 3 decades. Two classes are available to students who will select between theatre and cinema classes (full course) or cinema specialization. In addition, advanced workshops are stored in Hollywood, New York and London.