How to Be a Comedian – Tip 23: Warm Up – Part 1

In my previous blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 22: Arranging Routines – Part 3, I presented about some techniques for arranging routines. In this blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 23: Warm Up – Part 1, I’ll explain some reasons to warm up before you go on stage.

WARM UP

Before a show begins, you’ll want to warm up so your comedy motor will be ready for the race when you step on stage. As a beginner, you’ll usually get about three to six minutes to perform. If you go on stage cold, by the time you hit your stride your time will be up.

There’s no “right way” to warm up; every comedian has different needs when preparing to get in front of people and make them laugh. Here are some tips for getting physically, vocally, and psychologically warmed up:

Physical Exercise

Walk briskly. Run in place. Try doing some push ups. If that’s too strenuous, do them off of a wall rather then the floor. Generally, go through your body and move and stretch. The idea is to release the stress and get physically loose.

A word of warning: Don’t overdo it; otherwise you could go on stage so out of breath that the audience won’t be able to understand what you’re saying through the huffing and puffing.

Get Into a Playful Mood

When you play around or act silly, you loosen up so your sense of humor can come forward. Try acting like a piece of bacon. Make faces. Do a goofy walk. Do part of your show as Jerry Lewis. Whatever gets you into a playful space.

When I was the opening act for male strippers at Chippendale’s in Los Angeles, I did one or two shows a night, four times a week for three-and-a-half years. Some nights it was very difficult to get up for a show, so I designed rituals that helped me get into a playful mood. First of all, putting on a costume – my tuxedo pants, vest, and cummerbund – helped change my focus from the real world to the performing world. Next, I’d play box and punch inanimate objects like a pair of pants, a hanger, a stripper’s costume (though never with anyone’s G-string). Then, just before going out, I’d annoy one of the dancers with my play boxing. God forbid that someone’s guest should come into the dressing room at that time because I’d playfully harass them, either tickling them or punching them in the butt. When my introductory music came on, I’d march out of the dressing room, hit the steps in time with the music, turn around, walk back into the dressing room, make a face, then, doing a silly march, I’d go to the place where I waited to be introduced.

In my next blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 24: Warm Up – Part 2, I’ll give more ways to warm up before going on stage.

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