A Conversation for So You Wanna Be a Stand-up Comedian?


Post 1

Dazza Oxford

This is a very useful and informative article and I would like to aske 3 questions:

1) Is it ok to write to comedy clubs etc to request an 'open spot' or are letters never read?

2) Where in London/South East would you recommend a new comic cuts his dentures?

3) How many engagements does it take before an agent will consider taking you on?


Post 2

Geoff Taylor - Gullible Chump

To answer the questions...
1) I don't recommend writing letters. This would require your promoter to write back, entailing more time and effort than a phone call. Considering that there is a glut of wannabe comics in the capital, I reckon a letter would be ignored.

2) I'm not from London; I'm from Manchester. I've played at the Laughing Horse Clubs, which are all over London, so I recommend you start there. A quick Google search should find them OK. Also look for Chortle which is a good web site for comedy information.

3) Depends on how good / lucky / pushy you are. There's no hard and fast rule on getting an agent. In fairness, getting an agent is outside my experience anyway, because there's no point in agents leaving the Smoke to find northern talents when there are lots of acts right on their doorstep.

Good luck.


Post 3

Dazza Oxford

Thanks for that, some very good tips! Just a few quick other bits you may have some views on:

1) Is it ok to use the same script/act round other venues rather than just the one?

2) Is it a full time hobby/passion or can you and do you accommodate the comedy around full time jobs.

3) If you're very good will a rebooking be offered or does the artist have to make that request?

Thanks for the advice on the other things, there is a certain barrier when becoming a purveyor of laughter that has to be overcome with peers who do not always see it as a 'serious' move, 'when I said I wanted to become a comedian everybody laughed at me' may sum it up.


Post 4

Geoff Taylor - Gullible Chump

1) It's fine to re-use material at different venues, and even at the same venue if you're sure the audience won't remember it. BUT, it must be original. I can't stress that part enough.

2) I have a real job. Comedy don't pay unless you're willing to put a LOT of effort in, besides having some talent.

3) Depends. Some promoters have a regime that they follow religiously, offering slots afterseeing you X times. Others will swoon and offer gigs immediately. Some might offer a similar slot at a better venue. By all means ask, but use common sense. It's no good asking for a booking straight after stinking death. smiley - smiley


Post 5

Dazza Oxford

Well I am very pleased that material doesn't have to be re-written at every venue as it could eat up ideas at an alarming rate! How long would it take on average for you to write say a ten minute act? I am trying to gauge what is a usual time span.

Also how do you best memorise, repetition of going over and over lines or prompts in your mind? It looks like it can be easy for an ad lib to throw the comic of his pre-planned course, can that be a danger too?


Post 6

Geoff Taylor - Gullible Chump

Er... yes.

Material writing is different from comic to comic (at least the ones I've spoken to). I'm considered fairly prolific, butI can write nothing for weeks, and then come up with a full 5 minute rant in just a few minutes. Others get into the discipline of writing regularly. Still others write lots, then bin it as dross. Then you've got Phil Kay, who writes nothing at all, and Ross Noble, who has material but doesn't use it; he prefers to riff off the audience.

I don't think it's particularly useful to compare writing styles. Just produce your material, and when you've got 10 minutes' worth, book your open slot.

Personally, I learn by writing down the material verbatim. Once I know it, I seem to be able to let go of the strict wording on stage.
Others learn by rote. Some use subject headings and just riff off from that. Again, it's down to what suits you.

The ability to ad-lib and deal with heckles generally comes with experience, and for most people there's no excuse for stage time.

Get on and do it !!! smiley - ok


Post 7

Uncle Heavy [sic]

how can you tell whats improvised and what isnt?


Post 8

Geoff Taylor - Gullible Chump

At its most obvious, improvising can be spotted by finding comedy in something unexpected in the venue. For instance, I saw Billy Connolly improvise when the colour filter fell off one of his stage lights.

Other improvisers can be more subtle. Some will banter with the audience and generate laughs from whatever is said. Admittedly, some comedians have some stock lines when talking to the crowd, but that's easily spotted by the seasoned comedy punter. There are people (Phil Kay, Ross Noble) whose shows are completely different night to night.

From experience, some of my best moments on stage have been when improvising a response to a heckle. My favourite is on once occasion when I asked the heckler why they had chosen to speak up...

"I'm a scouser; what do you expect?", says the heckler
"Less", says I.
That got a round of applause. Boy, did I feel good.

Anyway, does that answer the question?


Post 9

Uncle Heavy [sic]

yeah it does. i was at edinburgh last week and saw both phil kay and ross noble. as far as im concerned bill bailey and boothby graffoe are my favourites tho. and tony law, but i missed him smiley - wah


Post 10

Researcher 211404

are u sure all of you are comediens? cos none of you have made me laugh.. puh. amateurs


Post 11

Researcher 226890

I have thought about becoming a comedian, i can make people laugh quite a lot but their are certain people who just tell me i'am a pathetic excuess for a life form adn i should get a job worth my intelligence "filth" i'am not sure if that is a job or not but i still get put down by these people and it makes me think twice about being a comedian.


Post 12




Post 13



I've been doing open mic slot's for a couple of months now and aside from one unpleasant occasion its all been good so far and im interested in moving up to open spots. Is it a good idea to tone down the performance first time I do this and try and avoid some of the sillier jokes which seem to work but spoil the pace and dont add anything or shall I just go with what I know?

Also is it a good idea to do musical comedy in open spots or does it take up valuable joke time?


Post 14



Just found your forum, looks very helpful, apart from im 3 years late lol. Your ideas sound very helpful Geoff, im very reluctant to do this but think ill have a good crack if i get by my nerves. Any techniques you could pass on would be much appreciated.

smiley - cheerssmiley - smoochsmiley - loveblush

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