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How To Be A Comedian

How To Be A Comedian

Avis Acting International

Among the most frequently asked questions I get while touring is"how to I get into this business?" I have been a professional touring comedian for 25 years, so I have heard this a lot! In the larger, sense, becoming a comedian is really a three-pronged endeavor.

Compose your material

Hone and create your comedy material (rehearse your"set")

Get work.

Sound easy enough? Well now comes the complicated part; really doing this. The hard facts are that even if I gave you all of the answers only one to two percent of you would actually apply it and go out and do it.

Comedy is not only an art. It's a science and also a business. However, most comic books --both professional and newcomer -- revolve comedy with frivolity and they handle their careers frivolously. Like anything worth doing, comedy takes work. It takes work to write new material and it requires more work to go out and get the gigs. Show business is two words; there's the"show" and there's the"business" and it may surprise you to understand that a lot of the moment, you need to put more effort to the business than the show. The good news is, if you do it right, you are having such a blast that you don't really work daily in your life!

Sound like fun? Let us move forward!

Let's start with writing and developing material. There are a great deal of folks out there that think you can not learn comedy, that you're either born with it or you're not. That is a pure and simple fallacy spoken by people who don't have a clue about the science behind bliss or the structure supporting it. If you really think about it, have you ever seen a baby pop from his mother's womb:

"So two people were making love. . .then boom! Out pops me! Is this thing on?" You call a birth ? It's similar to trying to push an egg via a stir rod! Hey Mom? (spit, spit), you need to shave that things! Haven't you heard of a'Brazilian?'"

It simply does not happen! Granted, there are a number of people that seem to naturally have a sense of humor built in. They appear to receive it. My concept is that they grew up around comedy, either listening to the greats at a young age, or they had been raised in a family that was filled with humor. Each of the comedians I understand which make me laugh had exposure to funny people in a young age and started adapting comedic behaviors. Those behaviours obtained them attention. They started to comprehend the patterns of behaviour and speech that resulted in bliss and applied them to other scenarios with great outcomes.

The key word from the preceding paragraph is"patterns." There are certain patterns which professionals use time and time again, to get laughs and it's normally a pattern that produces surprise. According to psychologists who study humor, within this context, surprise is the number one element that activates human laughter, If you can surprise somebody with what you will state, they will usually laugh. One of the simplest ways to do so is to employ one of the 12 major comedy formulas I discovered over the decades of studying the best comedians. But you do not even have to examine the greats to recognize this formula. If you've got a friend (I believe most of us do), who turns everything you say into a sexual connotation, than he/she is probably applying this formulation. It's known as the"Double Entendre." This literally means"two meanings" You basically take a frequent term and spin the intended meaning to imply something entirely different, but it could actually fit in the announcement, but its exaggerated...

Another day I was in the supermarket. The clerk said,"Did you find everything you were looking for?" I said,"I found that the wine as well as the candles, but I couldn't find a soul mate... You'd Mahi-Mahi, but I am not into twins"

In the above joke, when the clerk used the word"everything," she meant everything in the store. As a comedian the word everything may be a great deal of things. In this case I went with a'soul mate.' What makes the joke work isn't merely the misdirection on the intended meaning of this word, but the simple fact that comedic interpretation of this phrase still fits inside the context of the question. If it didn't make sense, then there would not be a joke.

Let's look at another Double-Entendre play on words: Former head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was having a terrible season. In the media conference a journalist said to the trainer,"Coach, how to you feel about the implementation of the offense?" McKay replied,"I'm all for it."

You can see there that the word run was utilized in two distinct manners. This arrangement should be a regular tool for anyone who's learning how to write comedy. Among those ways that I refine this capability and make it more accessible to my everyday life is through practice. After a month I do a word exercise which reminds me that our language has a slew of words that have several meanings. Keeping this refined in my brain, gives me a tool that's always sharp and available. This permits me to re-interpret something someone says and apply a comedic spin on the word. The exercise is simple, yet extremely strong. For the exercise, I take fifteen arbitrary, but rather common words and write them down. Then I find at least five different meanings for each word. Working this exercise consistently will give you an wonderful leg up in your own quickness and finesse as a comedian. It is simple, yet extremely powerful. Notably because few comedians actually do it. This is only one of twelve big comedy structures used by most of the top comedians and comedy writers. If I had been to include them all in this guide, it might take you a week to finish reading. It is an easy, yet powerful example of how you can control the English language and make surprise and trigger laughter from an audience.

FACT: Every comedian that makes you laugh utilizes at least one comedy structure. It's the arrangement of the the act-out that activates the laughter. Without the structure, there's no laughter. .

Even when you have all twelve comedy structures , (most comics work with 3-4), and you also build an act of five or more minutes, to start, thirty minutes to begin getting paid, you have to start to work and hone it in front of an audience. I'd start with friends. Run the material from themsee what they think, see if you're able to make it better by tweaking the surprise. Once you feel comfortable you may do the five minutes without thinking about it, then do it in front of an audience. How can you do so? Well, if you are in a bigger city, there are probably plenty of open mics. These are places where you are able to do 5-10 minutes of substance to'test it' in front of an audience. This is the way I began. If you don't have the advantage of being in a big town, then you may have a comedy show that plays once a week or once a month on your town at a local bar or restaurant. If that's the case, have a trip down there and ask whether you are able to M.C. the show. Most bars which have'one-niter' comedy shows, do not possess an M.C.. So in case you appear and ask, they will probably be more than pleased to have you do it. When you do your five or ten minutes up front, then you can video tape it. When you've got a video tape that's of good quality, you have a calling card to get other work. So now you still need to function the'business' aspect of the best way to be a comedian equation. Whenever you've got an action that is creating a laugh each 18-20 seconds, also has a good beginning, middle and end, it is time to escape there. What most start comedians do not see is that if you hit this level, (may take 6 months, or 2 years), it is time to get serious about fixing your stand up comedy like a business. You're presently a product (or service), and you need to sell. At this point in your career, you will not have a manager or a broker. If you're fortunate enough to have the money, you can hire a Public Relations manager (approximately $3500 per month). They can help you get out media releases, stains on the radio or television. But you must have a gig to promote first. But most of us don't have that choice when we're starting out so let's leave this alone. So you have a 30 minute action that you've been developing at open mics and other events like meetings, parties, etc.. How do you get it on the road? Now you could be looking at a number of possibilities in your journey to becoming a comedian:

Targeting the comedy club and also one-niter Sector

Breaking into corporate comedy or speaking engagements.

I really do both clubs and corporates in my career, but today I mainly target corporate only because there's more money in it for me personally. There is in addition the school comedy market, cruise boat market, resort and casino marketplace, hot up comedian market (for live sit-com, game and talk show audiences), and military shows. Army shows could be big. I had been working with a liaison for the army who said he would have me working for the remainder of my life doing army displays. We could devote a lot of time going through each of the possibilities, but that may take days. The important thing to remember is that if you can write and create a comedy routine that is clean and good, you can work forever. Once you have this information, it's time to target your niche, do your research and start selling. That is right. Start selling. You are your own company at the moment and you supply a service. If you learn how to treat yourself as a business by drawing up a business plan, setting goals and following through, you will begin to work. When you begin in comedy there are 3 positions available. They are each expected to perform for various amounts of time:

Opener/M.C. (15 minutes)

Characteristic or Mid (sometimes called"premiere") (30 minutes)

Headliner or Closing behave (45 mins. -1 hour)

NOTE: This can be company is competitive, but here's something most comedians do not understand: If you work hard and you also develop your action and you develop your reputation for being a good comedian, you WILL WORK! This company and the bookers who provide comedians around the country are always looking for good talent.

If you want to aim the club market, it's also wise to aim the one-nighter market.This way you've got more booking choices available to you when scheduling moves. How do you aim? Start small; begin local. In case you have comedy locally, contact the clubs, go to the clubs, ask the managers, door people, M.C.'s exactly what the protocol would be for getting in the door and auditioning or performing a guest collection. Be considerate and be consistent. Jay Leno drove from Boston to the New York City Improv a few days every week for several months before Bud Friedman (the owner of the Improv) allow him do a set. He had been prepared. He did a fantastic job. The rest is history. When you get your opportunity, be prepared and do a well-crafted 5-10 minute set. Later, talk to folks, see what it takes to return to do another group. Once you mingle with people and create relationships and a reputation for being a solid act, today you have all you have to get work. A good deal of comedy talent bookers on the street need to see video. Some will take a chance on you in the event that you have testimonials from some headliners. It is a good idea to develop relationships with as many comedians as possible. Be wonderful to everyone, always act appropriately. It's these relationships which could make or break your odds for getting work. Make at least 10 phone calls a day for your livelihood.

Call comedy clubs and bookers. If you don't get them on the telephone, always, I mean always leave a message. Keep accurate records on who you spoke to, that the decision maker is, the names of supporters and the best time to call.

If it sounds as if you are a sales person. . .then well, you're. This really is the business side of the equation of how to become a comedian and it is where many comedians neglect.

When you do eventually get a booker on the telephone. Be considerate and ask them if you may send them a video and if they would rather see the video online or on DVD or E.P.K. (Electronic Press Kit). Believe it or not, there are still some bookers out there who would prefer to maintain a DVD in their hand.

A few of those bookers are tough nuts to crack. When I run into that dilemma, it's time to generate a personal sales call. I simply call or email and ask them,

"I really need to meet with you and perform with your area. If I can fly out there within two weeks or so, do you think you could find room in the line up for a guest collection?"

For the toughest bookers from the country, this has always functioned. But how do you manage that? Why your building your contacts and one-niter gigs, you make sure you reserve something in or around the area of the club you so covet. Whenever you have this date set up and booked, phone the club and see if you can fall in and perform an audition set. Place in this extra step and you'll most likely get a guest set.

Once you perform your guest series, send them a thank you card (and or something with your picture on it), to thank them for the chance and keep following up until you get a place. Never follow up more than once a week, if you don't still haven't spoken to the target individual, then follow up every 3 days.

Calvin Coolidge said,"consistency and persistence trump talent daily." So be consistent and persistent. Be polite and keep following up. And when calling doesn't work. Pay them a visit. Let them know you're persistent.

When you start setting dates together. Use every opportunity to tape. Try to find great audio quality, if at all possible. A great tape leads to more work.

If you follow those steps:

Compose your comedy content

Hone and develop your material (your own"set")

Get work.

You will be on your way to learning how to be a comedian.

Present in France, London and the United States, the Avis Acting International theater and cinema college has been contributing to the development of the world's best actors for more than 30 years. The educational idea of Acting International, exceptional in its completeness and singularity, is based on the complementarity of international techniques and the bases necessary for studying in direct contact with the requirements of today's livelihood. This educational process is continually redefined throughout the natural interaction of complementary knowledge and proven procedures of a team of renowned masters - French, Russian, American, English and Italian - all busy artists.

The college offers multidisciplinary theater and cinema classes that span an interval of three years. Two classes are available to students who can select between theater and cinema courses (full class ) or theatre specialization. In addition, advanced workshops are held in Hollywood, New York and London.