Arts and Entertainment

MASTERING THE ART OF WRITING STAND UP COMEDY

Stand-up comedy is an up-and-coming career option. More and more people are leaning towards this creative field. Popular culture has seen a rise in the audience and professionals in this particular industry, and why not? Instead of going to the park early morning and laughing for the sake of exercise, anyone would rather pay someone to make them laugh.

If you are someone who is looking to make a career in stand-up comedy, here are some quick tips to help you get started:

START STRONG

It is important to gain your audience’s confidence in the first few lines of your set. By doing this, you are showing them what is about to come but also giving yourself the boost you need to transition into the rest of the routine.

TAKE INSPIRATION FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

Comedy is quite like charity; it begins at home. The best comedians in the business believe that there is a higher chance of making the audience laugh if you joke about yourself. Self-deprecating jokes always seem to work.

Pick incidents, traits, or random observations from your life and paint them in a comic light. Do not shy away from getting a bit personal. You will be a bigger hit if people find you relatable. And they can only relate when they find you to be every bit of a flawed human as they are.

Remember not to introduce a lot of jargon in your routine. Know that your spectators cover a wide range of people. For your jokes to land, they have to be comprehensible.

DO NOT BE TOO DIPLOMATIC

While writing a set, do not hold yourself back. Push your limits. Do not worry too much about being politically correct. Comedians are known to give limelight to taboo subjects that are swept under hushed conversations elsewhere.

You can always modify or eliminate parts that can be controversial while performing on stage but while writing, let your imagination run wild.

Any comedian who is worth their salt has mastered the art of disguising their opinions in the form of jokes. People are paying to watch your unique take on things, so give them their money’s worth.

CARRY A NOTEBOOK WITH YOU

Inspiration does not ask for permission before striking. If you are after creating good content, carry a notebook around with you. Take notes even during the most mundane of activities.

Examine everything with a set of critical eyes. Writing down incidences and analyzing them later for a comedic angle could end up giving you some of the best premises.

Use props in your set

STRUCTURE YOUR SET WELL

Stand-up comedy is much more than a mishmash of a few sentences for the sake of laughs. If you want to be a smart writer, you need to be well-versed in providing your set with some definition.

Here is an outline of various elements of a stand-up routine:

Opening: You can introduce a premise here. The premise is an umbrella concept that will cover all your jokes. Essentially, all your jokes have to revolve around a premise but a premise by itself is not a joke. Good comedians stick to just one during an entire routine but for ease, a beginner can pick many.

Set-up: The set-up is like a prelude for punch lines under your initial premise. They provide details about characters or situations before a punch line is delivered.

Punch line: These are the actual jokes that often go against what people expect by the end of a set-up. The farther they are from people’s assumptions, the funnier they get. They serve as a plot twist to the setup.

Tags: They are like bonus punchlines after the main one is dished out.

Closer: This can be a callback (a reference to an earlier joke in the set) or a new punch line altogether. But always remember to go out with a bang. Leave the audience with cheek-hurting, stomach-tickling laughter.

For example:

Premise: Moms are the best at roasting you.

Set up: This one time I was complaining about how ugly my picture was on my Aadhar card.

Punchline: and my mom went, “What’re you crying about? At least it’s better than your display picture on WhatsApp.”

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, AND PRACTICE

Rehearsing in front of people is the only way to find out which one of your jokes is a hit with them and which ones fail to evoke even a chuckle. This will help you build confidence in your punchlines, strengthen your delivery and help you memorize your stand-up routine.

Offer to perform for friends and family who can be trustworthy critics. Work on your physical presence too. For this, you can also sign up for open mics and help gauge the hilarity of your jokes by the response of your audience.

KEEP LEARNING

You have to keep expanding your comedic horizons. Attend your favourite comedians’ stand-up shows. Sit in the back and observe their technique. Be mindful of the audience’s reactions. Keep watching sitcoms online to learn from their writing. Sign up for online comedy courses.

Learn from the best in the industry like Russell Peters, Jerry Seinfeld, etc. Indian comedians who have amassed a huge following are Zakir Khan, Vir Das, Tanmay Bhat, Anubhav Singh Bassi to name a few. Every great comedian has their style, element, and persona. Your task is to find yours.

If you are serious about making it big as a stand-up comic, check out our online comedy class by one of the pioneering comedians in India – Johnny Lever. He has collected several feathers on his cap during his Bollywood journey and in this unluclass ; he imparts his wisdom on how to be a successful comedian. Learn comedy online from Johnny Lever now!

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