Picking-up Women & Comedy: Two Topics I Shouldn’t Give Advice On

“Performing stand-up for an audience is like being on a first date. Jokes are just an excuse to have a conversation.”

I’m about to give some advice on two things I have no business giving advice on. Stand-up comedy and dating. Well, maybe not actual dating, but picking up women. Well, maybe not picking up women, but what I would do if I was more like the character from the sitcom in my head. Let’s start with the comedy part; because that’s the part I suck at less.

My friends are funny. When we hang out, the brilliant premises fly. So why is it so hard to take those premises, write brilliant jokes and then make them work on stage? I think the problem lies in the fact that we “wrote jokes.” I’ll explain.

If you’ve been performing more than a day, you probably know that the key to succeeding on stage is likeability. New comedians are often delivering their jokes like they’re reading a script. A lot of the jokes might even be great, but I think there is a false belief that the writing will carry them. I don’t think it will, “for most comics.”

Writing vs. Performing. If you think writing makes you a comedian, then you’re already losing the fight. There is already a place well written jokes. The internet, joke books, radio, twitter, billboards, everywhere. Why would people pay to see you live if you’re just going to regurgitate jokes? If they do, they’ll only do it once.

I don’t believe writing is not important. It is, but jokes are just an excuse to talk to the audience. A written joke from paper to the stage is like a pick-up line at a bar. Most pick-up lines are in fact jokes. And do pick-up lines work? Sometimes. It sort of depends on what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Now this is where there is a decision to make. What type of comedian do you want to be? Do you want to work clubs and one nighters or do you want to put on your own shows and connect to audiences in a larger way? Neither one is more correct, but comics are constantly making that choice before they even realize what they’re doing.

If you meet a girl at a bar and you make her feel hot, she may sleep with you tonight. If you let her know she’s beautiful, she may sleep with you forever. This is the same with comedy club audiences. Making an audience feel hot is delivering lines. It’s being flashy, impressive, reciting clever jokes you have written and performing your act. You make the audience feel beautiful when you make yourself vulnerable. You have to exist and be present on stage. Every audience is different, and they want to feel different and special. A beautiful audience will connect with you after the show has passed: friend you on facebook, visit your website, buy your merchandise. A hot audience will laugh at you tonight, shake your hand on the way out, and perhaps remember to tell their co-workers, “Hey I saw this comic last night, they were really funny, I don’t know who it was, but they were funny.” An audience that that was made to feel beautiful will want to remember your name and come see you again.

You can write your way to being a good comedian. I don’t care what anyone else says. I’ve seen it. Some people find a moderate to good level of success based solely on their ability to write clever and original material. I strongly believe that you will only ever become a great comedian if you are a funny person, and I don’t mean on stage. Be a funny person.

So how can you accomplish this? Here are the ways I try to develop this side of myself. Note, they are personal suggestions that I find helpful and I offer them as nothing more.

1. INTERACT WITH MORE PEOPLE: I am a shy person by nature, but I’ve been making an attempt to join more social groups, hobby groups and general groups of people. And I’m meeting people from different fields than comedy. You learn so much about what makes people laugh when you make people laugh. We can’t control who comes in to a comedy show, but we can prepare ourselves for who might come in to a comedy show.

2. BE FUNNY MORE OFTEN: I don’t think the only time I can test material is when I’m on stage. I realize a lot of comedians take this overboard and talk completely in bits. I’m guilty of bouncing premises off of unsuspecting civilians, but it’s really a much better opportunity to work on my crowd work, improv, and interacting with “audiences.”

3. GET PEOPLE TO LIKE YOU AS A NON-COMEDIAN: I think we all have this delusional desire to make people like us as comedians hoping that will translate into liking us as people. It’s far easier to get people to like you as a person and then have them come to a show and they’re already on your side before you tell your first joke. Be interesting, be charming, and don’t always feel like you have to be the funny guy, although, it’s almost always okay to be the funny guy.

By the way, I don’t really do any of this, but I hope to someday.

(Unofficial 4th: don’t go back on everything you just spent the previous 900 words trying to explain in the last sentence. That won’t impress anyone)

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About Jamie Ward
I am a comedian. At this point in my life I live comedy. I'm not all that funny, but it's all I think about every waking moment.

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