So, you want to start ‘doing Comedy…’
Begin by writing three to five minutes of original jokes. Five minutes of material is about two-and-a-half typed pages. If you don’t quite make five minutes, that’s a good thing, it leaves room for laughs (think optimistically). Take the jokes to a mic. Rinse and repeat, and repeat, and repeat.
Every mic is different.
Watch a couple before you sign up if you’re nervous about the timing or host, or just want to get a feel for the room. There’s no shame in watching open mics, other than the shame attached to watching Comedy open mics. Know the rules of the room and adhere to them. Don’t burn the light. Tip at least a dollar on all drinks, even the comped ones. Respect designated smoking and parking areas. Go to all the mics, try every kind of joke, any kind of Comedy you’re drawn to. It’s an experiment: ‘What do people think is funny?’
You can’t sell what you don’t have.
Write good jokes. There are awesome writing groups that can help you with structure, timing, intent, and twist, but you can only tell jokes that you’ve written, so, write good jokes.
Know your jokes. Perform the jokes until you dream them. You have to know the jokes to be able to work them. Tell the jokes in front of every audience, from packed to non-existent.
Don’t take a booking until you’re ready. Usually wait until the later half of your first year. Some people are ‘naturals.’ Most aren’t. Regardless, everyone needs to learn the nuance of working with an audience, and you only get that with experience.
Don’t steal material.
10 minutes is the average for an opening set, it’s a long time to fail publicly.
For the first year that you’re ‘doing Comedy’ you should be working on a good 10 minutes of material. That’s all. The whole first year, craft a memorable, hilarious, not-to-be-missed, 10-minute set of funny things you’re dying to say. At the end of the year, take that 10 minutes, cut it to the leanest, meanest 5 minutes ever, get a good audience and tape that set. It may take a few tapings to get a good one, but it’s worth the trouble. That’s the five minute video you send with festival applications and to showcase bookers. Then get head-shots and set up a Comedy page on the social media platform(s) of your choice, write a short bio. Congrats. You now ‘do Comedy.’
Work hard. Love the grind.
I don’t really know anything else…