Be a Comedian

Handling Hecklers – Part 1

Tips to cure an audience disease.


Being mercilessly heckled is the third most common fear associated with doing stand-up comedy. Just the prospect of being heckled deters some beginners from getting on stage because they don’t know if they’ll be able to cope with it. But, as with all things, the reality isn’t nearly as frightening as our fantasy. When handling a heckler, your goal is to remain in charge of yourself and your show. Handling hecklers effectively is a skill that is only acquired through a great deal of stage experience. In the meantime, here are some helpful hints to stave off the scourge: Most Hecklers Think They’re Helping Most hecklers are misguided, not malicious. They like you and want to help, so they yell out comments they think make the show funnier. They’re not familiar with concepts

Comedy Pros Don’t Write Prose

Jokes are meant to be said, not read.


Comedy Pros Have the Freedom One of the major errors made by beginner joke writers is they have a tendency to write flowery literate dialogue. It may read great, but when it coming out of the mouth of a comic it’s stiff, pretentious, and inauthentic. People in real life just don’t talk that way, unless they’re a Literature professor from Cambridge sporting a tweed jacket and an uneven mustache. To avoid this trap, here are two tips for creating realistic dialogue: Comedy Prose Use Grammatically Incorrect Language People don’t talk like they write, so you should write like they talk. Proper grammar and syntax have nothing to do with making a joke funny. In fact, correctly worded jokes seldom flow as well as jokes written with the f

The Silence of the Bombs

Whoever said “Silence is golden,” wasn’t a comedian.


Bombing is the number one fear associated with doing stand-up comedy. When your show isn’t getting any laughs, life stops being a movie and you’re thrust into the awareness that you’re really here in front of people. A flush of tingly heat spreads over your face, all you can hear is a deafening roar of silence. Then your internal self-talk starts screaming, “Why am I doing this to myself!” Your mouth feels as if it’s stuffed with cotton, your heart is thumping in your chest, and beads of perspiration snake down your face. You’re experiencing what comedians call flop sweat. If this description is enough to scare you away from wanting to be a comic, quit now because bombing is an inevitable aspect of being a funny person. Accept it and prepare yourself to deal with it resourcefully.

Comic Timing – Discussing the Undiscussable

Follow the followers.


I’d. . .timing. . .damn. . . I‘d like to. . .timing. . .oops. . . I’d like to discuss a subject that I don’t bel...timing?. . .lieve. . .shit. . . I’d like to discuss an aspect of comedy that I don’t believe can be meaningfully discussed - timing. Like love, happiness, and sushi, comic timing defies analysis. There have been many attempts to define it, but most were futile. Years ago in their book, How to Be a Comedian for Fun and Profit, Harry King and Lee Lauger wrote, “Timing is knowing when to stop speaking in the midst of a routine in order to allow thinking time for the audience to prepare itself for the laugh that is coming up.” Not much of a definition, but it is a great piece of advice. The only thing that’s certain about comic timing is that it’s esse

Be a Comedian – Tip 34: Never Make Fun of Someone’s Laugh

Encourage you lead laugher.


In my previous blog, Be a Comedian – Tip 33: Stop Using Comic’s Clichés - Part 3, I discussed those overused greeting comic’s clichés comedians use when they don’t think about their reasons for doing what they do on stage. In this blog, Be a Comedian – Tip 34: Never Make Fun of Someone’s Laugh, I’ll explain how not to kill the laughter in the room. Be a Comedian - Tip 34: Never Make Fun of Someone’s Laugh This is an unwritten cardinal rule. When you make fun of someone’s laugh, not only will that person stop laughing, but the rest of the audience will too because they don’t want you to make fun of them. A person develops a loud or unusual laugh to get attention, so he or she often becomes the lead laugher for a crowd. If you squelch that person, you’re likely to stifle the entire audience. You’re on stage to make people laugh, so let them laugh.  The one exception is when the pers

Be a Comedian – Tip 33: Stop Using Comic’s Cliches – Part 3

If another comedian says it...avoid it.


In my previous blog, Be a Comedian – Tip 32: Stop Using Comic’s Clichés - Part 2, I discussed those overused physical comic’s clichés comedians use when they don’t think about their reasons for doing what they do on stage. In this blog, Be a Comedian – Tip 33: Stop Using Comic’s Clichés - Part 3, I’ll try to persuade you to greet the audience with something other than a question where you don’t care about the answer. Be a Comedian – Tip 33: Stop Using Comic’s Clichés - Part 3 Greeting an audience is a very important part of a show which usually gets delegated to a comic’s cliché, like, “Hi. How you all doing tonight?” Do you really care how they are doing? No, so don’t ask. Comic’s Clichés are all the commonly used phrases comics repeat because they heard other comics use them. Then again, it’s very awkward when a nervous comic runs right to the microphone and goes into his

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