Single Status Update
I'm planning on doing a 5-minute standup set at a local cafe, and I posted part of my set on a standup subreddit for criticism.
One of the replies first that I got before anyone else could reply was something along the lines of "I had a really hard time getting through that. Tell me, what is it about standup that you like?"
Something about that cut right to the bone and I deleted the thread. Rationally, I know that there was nothing constructive said and the guy was just being an asshole, and that I shouldn't let this kind of stuff get to me, but for some reason this is seriously screwing with me and I'm experiencing a lot of self-doubt because of it.
- Show previous comments 8 more
Nice work Marnetstapler!
ive considered doing some standup comedy myself, but I've come to the understanding that you need to be extremely brave and composed in the face of adversity. Ive listened to many standup comedians talk about their work, and many of them seem to agree on the same thing: Get ready to bomb.
This isn't meant to discourage you or suggest your material is weak. But every comedian, no matter how successful, has had one or more bombing experiences on stage, and these most often come right at the start of the career. Its extremely humbling, you'll wish someone will yank you off the stage in the moment, and it will make you want to quit forever.
Its just a fact of life, I think. When you start off, nobody is necessarily coming to the venue to see you. You wont be able to book an actual comedy club without experience, and most people going to a cafe aren't going there for the entertainment. A stranger with a stage and a microphone comes off sort of pretentious so you'll need something more than good written material to get on everyone's good side and understand your humor.
If the mood of the crowd isn't following with the first few jokes, its likely the rest of the routine will burn as well, even if its great. Some comedians shift into something called "crowd work" somewhere in the middle of their set. This is where you point out individual members of the audience. Give them a compliment or ask them some questions, like where they're from, how they know the people they're with, what they do for a living etc. Then just be in the moment, make a silly comment or make fun of their answer or something. This is tough to do if youre not used to it, but its a great way to dial back the room's expectations and be a more relatable guy.
Try to break up your set into separate "bits" that you can shuffle in different order. Some bits will simply work better one after another, but having your bits disconnected from each other will make it easier to start and stop your routine in the event of other things stealing the crowds attention, like someone spilling a drink, or a heckler. If you memorize your set line for line, it's easier to butcher your own jokes and some of your best material can flatline the crowd.
You can act differently than you normally would with your friends, but its best not to be an 'actor.' If youre not a naturally confident person, then dont try to be one on stage. Willingly address that you hate dealing with strangers and give some funny examples of awkward situations people have put you in, and embellish or omit details of the story for the best comedic effect. It will be easier to act natural on the stage and make you more relatable with the audience.
I hope I didn't bombard you with too much information. Comedy is scarier than it looks, but goddamn it looks like a lot of fun when it works. The bravest thing you can do is to start. Just dont go into it expecting to be awesome at it and it wont feel as punishing when things don't go perfectly. It just takes practice.
I hope you do well!
I forgot to mention somewhere in there to have some self deprecating humor bits prepared too. Sometimes you can use it win people over in case things are going south.
@40oz thank you for your support and advice!