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If you are starting to do a stand up comedy act, my first advice is; Do not TRY to be funny. Do not try something that made your mom laugh. The very best stand up routines usually have three ingredients. First, talk about yourself. Second, use a "univesal" subject. Third, describe how you failed or were incompetent or someone else failed and was incompetent. Success is not funny.
A universal subject is something most of your audience understands, such as "Taxes are so high..." "I was driving to work on the freeway..." "I've been trying to lose some weight..." "I lost my car keys..." "So I was stranded in this small town that had only one car repair shop... Actually it was a dentist but he had a garage." Talk about subjects that are easily understood by almost everyone.
Begin with a short greeting that is something like, "It's good to be here..." Then proceed with your comedy using an economy of words. Don't make any story too long or detailed. "I made the mistake of telling my dad I had changed the oil in my car all by myself. I saved $20. So he thinks I'm a mechanic. He calls me when his car isn't running. I keep telling him, 'Dad, it's hard to find parts for a DeSoto.'"
An old comedy saying, KISS, Keep it simple, Stupid.
Another thing that usually works well is "What if?" or "How come?" They let ship Captains perform marriage ceremonies. Why not bus drivers? I mean, you're stuck in traffic anyway. How long would it take? You got your witnesses there. You meet a nice girl.
If you are planning to make a career with stand up comedy you will need at least two forty minute acts. You will also want to have a couple of good five minute routines. You will need a tux. You will need some suits. If you are of the female persuasion you will need attire that fits your character. If you expect to work regularly you will need to travel to NYC, Nevada, California and anywhere there is a casino or comedy room. You will need an agent. It will help if you have a sense of humor. Have a line or two ready for the hecklers. Have fun.
Start with open mic shows. Develop your act to fit you. Don't just tell jokes. Have a character. You are doing the act for strangers, not your family or friends. Do not use alcohol or drugs to combat nervousness. It is quite alright to have stage fright. It is normal and every performer experiences it. Just talk a little louder and pretend you are not having a heart attack.
Henny Youngman was a great stand up, one liner comic. He would use his violin for comedy effect. When a person does stand up or monologue comedy, it can be fast paced, rapid fire one liners or a slower, more relaxed delivery. The performer has to have a style and image which will work best for his/her age and appearance. Some older comics might be funny doing insult humor, while a young person might seem to be offensive doing the same material. A young person can make dating and problems in school seem very real. Your act should be about you with a bit of exaggeration.
George Carlin was an intellectual comic who talked about the rediculous things we see every day. He could find comedy in the way food is packaged or the way shoes look plus he could do his Hippy Dippy Weatherman which was comedy based on truth. Look around you and you will probably notice something funny to talk about. Just read what is inside a box of cereal or a hot dog and maybe you will have something very funny that is right there, waiting to be discussed with an audience.
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