If you’ve ever made your aunt spit-take her Shasta with one of your non-sequiturs, you may feel you have what it takes to become a comedian. If you feel like the world needs to hear all the outrageous thoughts you have, and you need to be the entertainer you were born to be, how do you start the process of stepping into the spotlight?
If you think of many funny thoughts and find yourself laughing at yourself, people will probably think you’re disturbed. Not that that is a problem, it is just slightly disconcerting. So in place of causing others discomfort, try writing down these thoughts as you go. Keep a journal with you at all times, and every time you make yourself chuckle with your wry observation of the current political situation or how people look like their pets, a document that thought. Over time, you will build up a base of material to weed through. If you have a trusted friend, share your journal with them and see if you are as hilarious as you think you are.
Share your thoughts
The whole sharing thing is a bit like saying, “Hey, look at me naked and tell me what you really think about me, all of me, and don’t be nice, really…..don’t be…don’t be nice.” Sharing what you’ve thought and written takes courage. You are bearing a piece of your soul, and sometimes that place is a pretty dark, slimy, embarrassingly ugly place full of off-color jokes about nuns and babies with big heads.
Listen, comedy doesn’t happen alone; at some point, you will have to put your thoughts in front of someone besides your mother (who always says you’re soooo funny to your grandma). If you are going to put yourself out there, you might as well try it out on someone you really trust and who may think as darkly as you. Really allow them to be critical. Well, not too much, but try to have them use the whole compliment sandwich philosophy: something nice, something harsh, something nice. Or tell them to be as much of a jerk as you need. It is going to help you. Really. It is. People who are paying to see you will not be so nice and will tell you, “You Suck.”
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Take a Class
We have all. Located in Chicago, they have helped launch the careers of a herd of comic actors and actresses. Comedy and comic acting is a craft, just like painting scenes on grains of rice or chainsaw carving. Craftspeople need to practice their craft to grow and excel. Craftspeople also do their most significant growth when they are apprentices or guided by someone with a lot more skill than they have. Schools like Second City provide fertile interactive environments for training and growth in the art of comedy. Like a good compost heap, they bring together the heat, manure, and rotting vegetable matter to produce a fertile compound for the growth of funny.
Step on Stage
Whether it be acting in a comic play or an open mic night, stepping in front of people you do not know to make them laugh the number one way to become a comic. Braving the intense, overpowering, debilitating shame of failure in front of people who have paid to see anyone but you will probably build some character in you or start you on the path of supporting your local psychiatrist. Either way, you make someone laugh or get help for the talking to yourself thing. Win-win.