Unsolicited Advice is a semi-regular feature where Philly’s top stand-ups give their advice and input about everything performing, writing, and conceiving stand-up comedy.
“If a joke isn’t working, the problem is more likely to lie in the premise than in the punchline. Punchlines flow easily out of ideas that are well thought out and phrased properly. If you are going to rewrite a joke, start at the beginning and the end will evolve naturally to fit the new premise.”
“Starting your own room or putting on your own show: please get a nice sound system, not some tinny piece of junk karaoke sound system. Please play some upbeat music to get the crowd excited for the show (no Morrissey, ‘The Pope of Mope’ is kind of depressing). Also, when you have a cousin who has a bar and wants to do a comedy show every other Thursday except when the Flyers or UFC or Paraguayan Soccer Finals are on cable, good luck with that mess. Odds are it won’t last past three shows. Get a designated room and get cheap cards or postcards to promote it. Support other comics shows so they will feel guilty, and then they will be forced to come out to your show.”
“The other night I saw someone perform with the mic stand in front of them. Take the mic out of the stand and put the stand behind you if you don’t plan on using the stand. Don’t take the mic out but leave the stand in front of you. There’s no rush to start doing material, just clear your space, the audience won’t lose you for five seconds of getting settled.”
“Find out what makes you funny — to yourself and your friends, and this will help you find your comedic voice. Finding a unique voice is one of the hardest things to do in comedy, and many professionals will say it takes years to do. Finding what makes you stand out from the rest and using it as a starting point when you come up with ideas is good groundwork in helping yourself establish who you want to be on stage.”
“Some of the best advice I can give to a newer comic is simply ‘keep your mouth shut.’ If you don’t make the list at an open mic, don’t vocalize your frustration. Be professional, hang out, watch the show and support the fellow comics. So many comics exclaim ‘This is bullshit!’ or ‘I can’t believe I didn’t make the fucking list!’ It’s not bullshit and a new comic shouldn’t expect to make the list at any open mic frequently right away anyways. Comedy is about paying your dues. When people have a fit, it looks immature and more than that, you never know who is standing near you — it could be the people in charge of the open mic, or another comic. Everybody gets beat up in comedy, just roll with it.”