How You Perceive Stand-up Comedy Can Affect Your Progress As A Comedian

As I reflect upon the start of my own stand-up comedy career, I can say with great certainty that I wasn’t prepared to make much progress, despite my efforts to be prepared as possible.

I remember my first open mic performance in 1992 at the Comedy Store in La Jolla, CA. I went on last and there were only 3 audience members left.

I left the stage with the thought that developing even just a few minutes of stand-up comedy material that worked was an overwhelming task.

That prompted me to get every stand-up book available at the time and take workshops on how to do stand-up comedy.

I wrote jokes and more jokes. I tried to learn joke formulas and apply them to my stand-up comedy material (to me, this was like trying to learn advanced calculus).

And when all was said and done, I made little progress from the massive amount study and work I put into developing my first few minutes of stand-up comedy material.

Comedy Open Mic: Going Last SUCKS

I got an email from someone who got on stage for their first comedy open mic and here’s what they wrote in their email to me:


I performed at an open mic last night. It didn’t go as planned.

It was my first time performing at an open mic. Of course as luck would have it I ended up going last.

I had the energy but not the responses from the jokes that I had written down.

I could totally use some help and advice.

Here’s my response:

Writing Stand-up Comedy Material Involves More Than Just "Writing"

One of the major roadblocks most comedians have involves the perception of the terminology used to describe the process of producing stand-up comedy material.

Specifically, I am talking about the term “writing stand-up comedy material”.

Here are some reasons why I say that the perception that seems to be associated with writing stand-up comedy material can often a roadblock:

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We are trained from a very early age to write in a way that is usually quite a bit different from the way we actually speak and communicate verbally.