So? You think you’re funny?

13 10 2017

It’s been ten years since I stepped on a sticky stage at the Stones Corner Hotel and relinquished my stand up virginity in front of a crowd of drunk punters. Ten years of sweating profusely on stage, mild anxiety and second guessing my abilities as a comedian. Time sure does fly past when you’re constantly thinking of dick jokes, I guess. Still, I’ve been looking back on those ten years with fondness and I can’t help but wonder what I’d tell myself if I’d met me before I started doing this whole thing…

  1. You’re going to get jealous of other comedians. Don’t do that. Everyone develops in their own right and you can’t get caught up in that nonsense. It will do your head in. A comedian you know just got this awesome gig with an international star? Be happy for that guy. Someone keeps getting the mint spots at that gig you like? That’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it. You’ll get some sweet gigs in time. Everything will be fine if you work hard.
  2. You are going to eat so much shit that you’ll want to hide in a dark cupboard for a week after the gig. You’re not going to bomb on stage all the time but when it does it will feel like a punch in the guts. Sometimes these gigs will be attended by people you love. Don’t take it out on them because you couldn’t deal with what was put in front of you. Learn from these mistakes. You won’t but you’ll wish you did.
  3. Don’t be afraid of interacting with the audience, you flake. You’re going to spend seven or so years being terrified of the audience. Then one night it’ll all snap into place. Sure, there will be times when the crowd throws you a curve ball but you can deal with it. Learn from other comedians. Some are great at this stuff so buy them a beer and have a chat about it. You’ll never get over your fear of the audience but you’ll be able to deal with it a bit better than that time during your third gig when a drunk lady tried to pull the microphone from your hand at the Kelvin Grove Hotel.
  4. You are going to meet some toxic people. Like any industry, there are noxious germs who will try and pull you down like a drowning man caught in a vicious riptide. The entertainment industry, and you are an entertainer as well as an artist, is particularly narcissistic and it seems to attract a few of these people. Luckily the industry is generally self-regulating and psychic vampires are often identified early on and are shunned by most. That doesn’t mean you won’t interact with them. Take particular note of the one that always tries to put doubt in your mind every time you’re working with them. You’re not going to die on stage just because they did.
  5. Remember when you told yourself that you’d write every cool thought down that popped into your head like that “Guide to Stand Up Comedy” told you to? You went and bought a neat little notebook to jot down your ideas. I found that notebook the other day. It’s empty, you walnut. Think of all those amazing premises that floated off into the ether because you didn’t have that book with you. Well, it’s not too late to start doing this.
  6. It’s going to take you five years to find your voice. Sure, you’ll think you’ve found it by about year two or three but you’re just kidding yourself here. You’re going to start out essentially reciting a set word for word and that will work for a bit. Get rid of the paper and flesh ideas out once you’ve framed the premise. Listen to your comedian mate from Sydney when he tells you after a gig at the Newmarket Hotel in 2009 that you’re funnier off the stage than on it. He’s right.
  7. Other comedians will steal your jokes. It happens; sometimes on accident and other times not so much. Write some new ones. One night you’ll be watching someone you know who has made the big time doing a slot on TV. They’ll do a joke of yours almost word for word and you’ll be angry about it for a bit because it was the best joke you’d written to date and you remember the exact time they saw you perform it. It took you about 13 months to get it down right and now it’s gone. That sucks but you can write new ones. Funnier ones.
  8. You’re going to spend time away from your family. That sucks but you can make up for it. Try and do more around the house and, for God’s sake, don’t let your kids read your set list. Well, unless you want to explain what “ginormous ballbag” means, that is. Tell your wife (yeah, you’re married now, buddy) you love and appreciate her. Don’t take her to gigs where you think you’ll bomb. See Point 2 above.
  9. You’re going to have to play the game. Call those bookers. Go and hang out with some room runners. Tell people about your stuff and how you feel you’re progressing. And would it kill you to get someone to film you every now and then? You do a killer hour long show in 2017 and you forget to film it. That’s going to sting, man. Also, get some head shots that don’t make your noggin look like a Russet potato.
  10. By the time you’re ten years in, you’re still going to feel like you’re learning. If you get stuck, read over points 1 through 9 again. Oh, and exercise more and drink less. In 2009 your shirt will accidentally burst open while you’re on stage and people will see your nipples. Wear a different shirt that night. One without buttons.





3 responses

14 10 2017

Love your advice Andy! Also love your work. OK so I’ve only seen one show but you cracking me up in 140 characters daily so you can’t be too bad.

Only advice I’d offer up and coming comedians is that joke about the disabled park and the do I look normal to you line…. don’t do it. Ever. There’s always going to be that one disabled person in the crowd who is so fed up with how ridiculously ignorant that joke is she will throw her toasted sandwich at you. Thanks for never doing such an inane joke

25 10 2017

I’m in year 7 and found this really comforting 😇

17 02 2018
Glenn Spring

Great read there and some very good advice. Thank you.

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