I’ve spent this afternoon watching strangers attempt stand up routines on YouTube, looking to identify the elements of successful stand up comedy at open mic nights.
It’s obvious that so many of the rules that apply to ‘general’ public speaking apply to doing stand up comedy too – here’s a few I’ve noticed;
- Grab the attention of your audience straight away with an interesting opening
No pressure here, but the acts that appeared most successful opened with a piece of quick wit that got their audience ‘onside’ early.
- Use your body and voice to bring the content to life
The most successful aspiring comedians were those that had personality, animation and life – they bought their humour to life with movement and variations in their volume and tone. Think of the funniest jokes you have heard in the past – I’m sure they were the ones that were told by a passionate and engaging joker?
- Structure your speech clearly
The best open mic ‘sets’ had a good flow of one joke to the next, or a clear story and purpose behind them. This helps the general flow of the set and avoids any pauses as the comedian hurriedly changes topic. A flowing humourous set appears to go down better than 50 unrelated jokes told one after the other!
- Leave your audience with one clear message
The best comedians at the open mic nights that I watched signed off their short open mic spot with their name and a final piece of quick wit – this helped the audience to remember who they were so that they could tell their friends exactly who they had seen and how good they were!
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