So you want to be funny?

I get asked at least once every other week for advice on how to start being a comedian. I’m not sure why anyone would think I know what I’m doing since I still consider myself a new comedian. I haven’t even spanned a decade yet. Fact of the matter is I get asked and there is no way to sum up all I’ve learned on how to start a comedy career. I can only direct you to the level I’m at. I can’t tell you how to get higher than me. With that in mind, here’s my first piece of advice.

Write Everything!

For example, I’m only writing this because I couldn’t fall asleep until I did. I was a night owl before comedy but comedy hasn’t helped it. I love talking comedy until everything closes. Having these conversations in the extremely early AM help me weed out most “comedy hobbyists”. Until you get paid, sorry, you’re a hobbyist. If that hurts, congratulations, you can stop here. You’ve saved yourself years of insomnia and disappointment. (Yeah, I know… you want to keep going.)

Write EVERYTHING!!!

Creativity is like a pool on the first day of spring. You’ve been eyeing it for so long. Even when you weren’t using it, you still imagined yourself swimming in it from time to time. Now is the time. Well… almost.

Before you take a dip into your pool, you must go grab your pool cleaning equipment and gather all the fallen leaves, flower petals and bugs that may be floating around. Jumping in before that will force you into a small corner of the pool where all this junk will eventually creep up on you. No matter how much you push it away, it will return.

Your mind is full of old ideas, bad puns, half thoughts and so on. In order to create, you have to clean this all out. Grab a pen and paper. Avoid using any type of electronic notepad. At first, you need to see this written in your own handwriting. You haven’t earned the privilege of writing on computers yet. Write down all the jokes you want to tell, all the opinions you want to express, all the witty comebacks you can’t wait to unleash.

Are your jokes brilliant? Who cares. You don’t need to be brilliant, you need to be writing. Are your jokes hacky? If this is your first time, probably, since you’re only exposure to comedy before this was on some kind of screen or in the crowd. You are more than likely writing jokes that sound like your favorite comedian. But don’t worry about that. No one is paying you yet. You have to just write. Do you have a five minute bit about farting at work? Write it. Do you have an anecdote about your sex life and the storyline of Lord of the Flies? Write it down. Long form. In bits and pieces. Get it all out of your head. You need to clean out all these fallen leaves.

Are you finished writing? Trick question because you’ll never be finished. Hopefully though you’ve cleaned out your pool of thoughts and are ready to dive in for a cleaner perspective. Push yourself to continue writing everything. You are forcing yourself to create. Do not avoid a style of joke because the other comics might look down on you. Just write it.

“But I don’t want this to be part of my act.” You’re just starting! You don’t have an act. This is the the purest moment of writing you will have, because you have nothing. You’re only pleasing yourself right now.

After you step offstage for the first time, you will get criticized. It might come in the form of advice. It might be a compliment. Take it all in. You’re test marketing your jokes and even your personality. When someone says, “Hey I really liked…” or “You know what you should try…”, it’s all helpful. Its up to you to figure out how it helped. After a few late night IHOP conversations, you’ll start getting it.

For right now though, clean the pool.

(I might write more of these… maybe)

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3 Responses to So you want to be funny?

  1. Nancy Peace says:

    Nick !!!!
    This is great and the video is non stop laughs ! You were the funniest comic I have seen in 10 years in San Diego. Looking for you to get your own show soon ! Glad to see the blog. You make it sound so easy but it is the hardest job in the world.
    Apparently you were born with it.
    Best regards,
    Nancy Peace.

  2. Chris Corlae says:

    I’m ready for another IHop session.

  3. Mother Folker says:

    Can I just be your pool girl? I think your pool might be funnier than mine. And way cuter. I’m sure your pool is way cuter than mine too.

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