For the last 6 weeks I’ve spent much of my free time planning and writing material for a charity stand-up comedy event that I’m appearing in this coming Sunday. (16th December)
This is my first attempt and when I first accepted the challenge of doing stand-up initially I jumped at the chance! I thought the challenge would be great as a character building exercise and for learning some other new skills. All those are true but never did I for one second realise how much hard work goes into writing even a short 15 minute stand-up set.
Firstly you have to brainstorm ideas, come up with material and transform that material into humour. That in itself is a challenge! I always find that the best ideas come to me while I’m driving or in the shower or doing something else and where there is no paper or pen to hand! Secondly you have to then re-write, practise, re-write, practise, re-write practise etc. I know, I ended there with 3 repetitions but trust me, that process is never ending! The practising part takes so much work! You don’t always know how you’re going to come across to the audience; are the jokes funny? Is the audience going to understand them? How shall I deliver the punchline?
I can quite easily say that over the last 3 weeks I put in at least 20-30 hours of work into creating and polishing my routine!
We had our first rehearsal about 5 weeks ago and I wasn’t prepared at all. In fact I wrote most of my material about 2 hours before the event and I was still writing as I got my friends house. When it came to my time to perform, I was nominated (forced) to go first I did my bit and all I got was one laugh from about 6 minutes of material. Needless to say I was completely devastated and embarrassed! But, it was a great lesson and I made the headline act look incredibly good! 😆
So I went away and I decided that the next time would be very different! I ordered two books off Amazon, one was called: “Getting the joke” and the other is called: “A step by step guide to stand-up comedy”. The first book so far hasn’t been of much use but the step by step guide has been incredibly useful! It’s written by Greg Dean and the foreword is by Steve Allen. I’m glad that this was the first book I decided to start reading. Like myself, Greg is a student of NLP and you can tell by the way that the book is written that he puts it to good use.
Before I even picked up the book I had no idea the mechanics in constructing a joke or even telling a joke. I’m quite good at impromptu humour when I’m in a face to face situation with one person but when I’m crowds I’ve always struggled to be “the funny one!”
The book starts off by giving the readers an introduction into the mechanics of creating a joke and smashing all the assumptions the audience creates in their minds, from the set up, with the punchline!
So I read this book through a few times and started re-writing my material. Initially my aim was to create clean routine with no blue humour, but I struggled, so I caved and decided to include plenty of swearing and jokes involving sex! I realised that this will probably work better anyway because the majority of the target audience is going to be young Asian professionals from the age of 21 – 31 and so I realised that blue humour was probably a safer bet in securing laughs rather than going for a purely clean routine. It’s about a 50/50 split between clean and blue!
With only 5 days to go before the big day, I’m quite confident with the material I’ve written but have yet to still memorise everything. I decided today to put keywords next to each main segment and use that as my memory trigger points. Lets see if I can remember 5 pages of text in 5 days! 😉
Wish me luck! I will report back on how it all goes along with my personal tips to you if you ever decide that you want to give stand-up comedy a go! 😀