Chapter 11 – Be a Fearless Comedian

Chapter 11
Be a Fearless Comedian

As with any art form, being a stand up comedian will place you in a position of coming to grips with your own personal demons. Not only will you go through this struggle publicly, but you’re also required to do it with a sense of humor. Fortunately, this chapter gives you the comedian tools you need for overcoming stage fright, handling hecklers, defusing a bomb, keeping your memory remembering so you can approach any audience as a fearlessly comedian.

Be a Fearless Comedian
Table of Contents


Put it in perspective
Reframe your fear as readiness
Be Honest
Create a warm-up ritual
Feel the feelings and do it anyway
Stay sober

Set self-criticism aside
Stay emotionally associated with the experiences of the material

Leave the Critic off stage
Rehearse in the same state in which you wish to perform
Remain playful
Be honest
Take a breath
Check your show list
Try riffing

Continue to commit
Keep your sense of humor
Be honest
Use a saver
Ask for suggestions
Make your material more personal to the audience
Respond with more emotional intensity
Deliver the jokes at different speeds
Do only your best jokes
Try riffing
After the show, deal with it


Ignore comments
Remain playful
Make sure they deserve it
Avoid taking things personally
Never invite the heckler on stage
Use heckler lines
Easy on the women
Challenge them to continue to make more remarks
Sincerely ask them to stop
Survive the drunks and the drugged
Ignore the section with the heckler
After the show

Be a Fearless Comedian

Bombing is the number one fear associated with being a stand up comedian. 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 a comedian refer to as flop sweat.

When being a comedian you get clear and instant feedback. The audience either laughs or doesn’t laugh. To improve your show, you must take responsibility for how it went, honestly face its shortcomings, and correct them. This chapter is full of skills, principles, and techniques to guide you as a comedian to create a successful show. But remember, you will bomb, so be prepared. Here are some helpful hints for dealing with bombing so you can be a fearless comedian.

To demonstrate what I really mean by this, let me start by making a distinction between a sense of funny and a sense of humor. A sense of funny is knowing what makes other people laugh. A sense of humor is what makes you laugh. If your sense of funny is off on a particular night, it helps to have a sense of humor about it. In other words, if you, as the comedian, think it’s funny that you suck, the audience will enjoy your ability to laugh at yourself. Then the least that can happen is that you’ll have a great time bombing.

The biggest problem with not getting laughs isn’t the lack of laughter; it’s the horrid state of mind that it creates. The worse you feel about how badly things are going, the worse the audience will feel. They’ll want you to get off stage, not because your jokes aren’t getting laughs but because they feel so bad for you. But, as a comedian, if it’s okay with you that the show isn’t funny, and you’re even willing to make fun of the fact, the audience will go along. If you have a sense of humor about bombing, when you leave the stage the audience might say something like, “He wasn’t very funny, but I sure enjoyed watching him try.” If you keep your sense of humor, the audience will almost always pull for you as a comedian.

Note: I believe that the sense of humor evolved in humans as a means of dealing with the painful things. Bombing certainly fits in this category, and your sense of humor should automatically  kick in to deal with it. It may be embarrassing, but it’s even worse to crash and burn without a sense of humor. When you bomb with a sense of humor, at least you’ll leave the stage with your dignity as a fearless comedian.

As a comedian, you’ll face bombing and hecklers. How you handle these determines if you can be a comedian. Learn the techniques to be a fearless comedian. Buy Greg Dean’s Step By Step to Stand Up Comedy book to a fearless comedian.

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