What Makes Stand-up Comedy Difficult?

On the surface it is easy to assume that stand-up comedy shouldn’t be that hard.

Comedians who are able to generate huge laughs on stage seem to largely talk about common, everyday things and appear to glide through their stand-up comedy act with apparent ease.

But once an individual makes the decision to take a shot at stand-up comedy, they can find that it is far more difficult task to get significant laughs than what meets the eye when watching a professional comedian perform.


So where is the disconnect? What is it that makes stand-up comedy difficult?

Here are some things to consider:

What makes stand-up comedy “look” easy is what I call the appearance of spontaneity that a professional comedian brings to the stage.

It is this appearance of spontaneity that makes it seem as if a comedian is simply talking about things that merely pop into their head. This is the real magic of stand-up comedy.

The reality is that a stand-up comedy act that actually works is purposefully developed and structured to generate frequent laughs.

A professional comedian’s stand-up comedy act is also developed over time with adjustments made to improve and tighten the stand-up comedy material a comedian will present on stage.

Now the speed at which a comedian can develop a noteworthy stand-up comedy act is affected by a number of factors including, but certainly not limited to:
  • Confidence in the process they use to develop their stand-up comedy material
  • The ability to capture and integrate their own unique sense of humor and point of view into the stand-up comedy material they want to deliver
  • Application of the natural expressive comedy traits they already possess
  • The accumulation of performances to gain essential stage experience in front of a variety of audiences
  • Knowledge and skill for making adjustments to their stand-up comedy material to make it tighter and generate bigger and more frequent laughs
  • The ability to adapt comedy timing to difference audiences
  • Understanding audience dynamics and the impact they can have on a stand-up comedy performance
  • The preparation strategies a comedian uses before they present new stand-up comedy material to an audience
  • The display of stage comfort and confidence with any audience they perform for.
These are just a few of the things that professional comedians master in order to get the big laughs and entertain audiences at a high level.

The important thing to be aware of is that when you see a professional comedian rock an audience, you are seeing the end result of hard work, applied knowledge and experience.

You should also be aware that developing and delivering a high level stand-up comedy act is not just about one aspect (ie: writing).

It is about multiple aspects that work in harmony to produce the laughter results a comedian wants to achieve the desired laughter results.

None of these aspects are difficult to understand or apply given the proper actionable knowledge. 

But what does make stand-up comedy more difficult than it really is for most is the absence of understanding and application of all the aspects of stand-up comedy that are essential for generating noteworthy laughter.

The important thing for new comedians to know is that developing and delivering a high level stand-up comedy act that works well involves much more than just mere words and sentences written on paper.

For more information about some of the significant issues that hold new comedians back, check out the 5 free lessons in the Killer Stand-up Online Course (no sign-up required for access).

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