Comedy is one of those careers where you just have to get out there and start performing. So try and get as many shows as you can and you’ll learn as you go along, stage time is vital. There’s so many comedy places now that you should even be able to do more than one show a night. When you first start off they are likely to be open mic shows, so obviously don’t expect to be performing at the top venues at first.
Don’t be afraid of failure
Often when you start off you are going to fail, ie people aren’t going to laugh. However although this can be horrible at the time, you will at least learn a lot about what does and does not work. And it will show you whether you can think on your feet and recover, this is vital for a comedian and it will show you if you are suited to a career in comedy.
Don’t steal other people’s material
This is never a good idea and will damage and probably finish off your career as a comedian pretty rapidly because you will quickly get a reputation for it and lose both respect and bookings.
Rework old material
It’s good to create new material but it’s also probable that you have older material that you could also rework and improve. This is often easier than creating new material from scratch.
Stick to your time slot
You’ll generally be given a time slot by a club and it’s important to stick to this, it’s very unprofessional not to. It’s also unfair on the comedian who is following you and will have to shorten or lengthen his set because of you. Even if you’re bombing press on to the end if you possibly can.
Record you performance
Watching a recording of yourself can be very useful for seeing where you’re going wrong. You can see the things that worked or didn’t work, and things like whether your delivery was too fast or you started talking too quickly when the audience was still laughing. But don’t over analyze too much or you may lose your spontaneity and freshness.
You can learn so much from watching other comedians, so make sure you do this as much as you possibly can. It can also be useful for making connections with comics and club owners. Networking, like in any industry is important, and the comedy circuit is a close-knit community that you need to become part of.
Don’t insult the audience
I know that some comedians to this, but it’s not generally the smartest idea. If you get heckled obviously it’s fine to reply but you don’t want to alienate the whole audience, you want them on your side.
Have something to put ideas down
It’s a good idea to have something to write any ideas down that come to you, you never know when it might happen. A notebook is probably best although you could also use your phone to record any ideas.
You don’t want to imitate other comics because no-one wants to see this, they want something original so be yourself and try and enjoy performing.