Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Making it as a comedian: Your six month checklist

Being a comedian is hard. Probably harder than being a brain surgeon. A brain surgeon has to operate on just one brain at a time with pointy tools, often with much blood. As a comedian, you have to interact with lots of people's brains all at once only using your words and with marginally less blood everywhere. You don't need to tell me who got the easy gig!

            What a hack.

However, unlike brain surgery or rocket science (substitute blood for oil/rocket fuel), comedy is a skill that can be picked up by anyone and mastered well within a year. If you've been gigging for the past while, here's your checklist for six months in comedy. Not ticked one of these off? Then you're not doing it right!

1. One Man Show

As discussed before, it's important to have a one man show under your belt. Most people think that this is an hour's worth of your own original and best material, presented in a cogent and coherent manner, perhaps with an underlying theme and with suitable closure for the audience.

In reality, there's many ways around this truck load of hard work. Get three of your friends to take part. Have two as ten minute support acts and the other as an MC. Roll out the same old material for the last 15-20 minutes, plus anything else off the top of your head and there you go! There's your hour show!

N.B. Remember to plug your show continuously for months on Facebook, to the point where it becomes some sort of visual background noise, always accompanying it with "Hurry! Just a few tickets left!" etc. In the few days leading up to it, give plenty of complimentary tickets out to your family and friends, then announce the show as "Sold Out". Don't forget to get your "journalist" mate to write a "review" dripping in nepotism for the local rag and reimburse him for it. About two pints should do it.

2. Gig Runner

Being on stage at other people's comedy nights isn't enough! You've been doing comedy for what seems like five minutes and lack enough usable material to comfortably fill an awkward silence in an elevator - it's time to expand your horizons! Seek out venues that don't have comedy on. Particularly venues that have zero interest in promoting it (this ensures you have full creative control of your night). Rooms with more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie novel along with plenty of pillars in the way of the stage are perfect. This means that the laughs will bounce around the room more than a traditionally shaped room, ensuring that people have an even better time than those comedy nights where people can see and hear the comedian clearly.

Once you set up one comedy night, set up another six. Ensure maximum success by purposely scheduling them to clash with other clubs, because as we all know, comedy's a big enough racket these days to intentionally split the laugh-hungry audience on a single night.

3. Comedy Crackerjack

Now that you have your comedy empire (which preferably uses your own face as the logo) you will need comedian minions to fill the line up each night. Already established comics in the circuit probably won't be too keen on performing at your nights due to extreme jealousy, so it's time to recruit and train up your own Gag Army.

Advertise free "How To Become a Comedian" classes, preferably to attract naive and impressionable people. Teach them everything you know about comedy. Later in the day, after lunch, put on a showcase gig in front of their friends and family. At the same time, plug your other gigs you have going on, placing most of your new comics in the line up. Bingo! You have full line ups and crowds packed with the newbie performers' friends and family who have been blackmailed into attending out of politeness. When the newbie performers no longer draw an easy crowd, get rid of them and recruit different comics. Repeat this process over and over when needed, right up until the comedy scene is watered down enough to flush right down the toilet.

There you are! If you haven't completed these steps in six months, unfortunately you won't become a fully-fledged comic. Not to worry though, you can still foist your borderline autistic slobberings into the comedy scene; submit badly-written comedy reviews to free magazines, record a four hour long "humour" podcast or write a blog on how to teach comedy.