You’ll Never Find Your Comedic Voice…if you’re always looking.

You Will Never Find Your Comedic Voice…if you’re always looking for it. It will happen with time. If it doesn’t happen, you’re/I/we’re not going to make it anyway so it doesn’t matter. Finding our comedic voice is our goal.

What is this comedic voice?

A lot of people confuse comedic voice with the character that comedians create for the stage. Mitch Hedberg’s speech pattern, cadence and timing comprised his stage character. You can try to emulate that. I have. When I started comedy I was heavily influenced by Mitch and all my jokes were trying to sound like his. However, it didn’t work. I didn’t have the comedic voice to back it up. It wasn’t my voice.

The voice is the tone and consistency that connects all the material to the comic’s personality and viewpoint. That sounds like a lot of fluff words. It’s hard for me to give a specific definition so I’m going to describe the context of what I understand it to be.

You find your voice when you’re so comfortable with your material and the experience of being on stage that there is an honesty that makes your words synch with your attitude. When this happens you probably won’t be the first person to notice it.  I notice the voice developing in many comics before they are even aware that they are getting there. When you write a joke and the people who know you say “that joke sounds like a joke you’d write” that means that you’re really connecting between the attitude and emotion of your feelings and the words you are using to describe them.

How long does it take to find your voice?

About one year into comedy I had the privilege of hosting for a pretty established veteran comic of 20 years. I was really intimidated hosting for him because it was my first weekend working a real club on a weekend. He could tell, and he gave me some great advice. He said, “Just get out there and tell your jokes. Learn to tell your jokes. Learn to get a laugh. Your voice will come when it’s ready, but you’ll never even get the opportunity to develop your voice if you don’t spend time on stage being funny.” I still have a lot of hacky one-liners and such in my set, but I think more often I’ll find I’ve written jokes that naturally sound like they fit me and I find more and more my friends are able to sort of see the style of jokes that I tend to seem more authentic to my personality, which is funny because I don’t even notice that about my own writing most of the time.

Bottom line: there is no time frame.
Second bottom line: Your comedic voice is not a final destination. Only a marker on your way to further growth.

Final bottom line: We all want to find our comedic voice but the process has to happen organically, so until you find your Chris Rock or your Jim Gaffigan be true to yourself, develop in the way you want to develop, and most importantly remember that no one can fault you for having the voice of someone who is funny and having fun.

That is all.

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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.

One Response to You’ll Never Find Your Comedic Voice…if you’re always looking.

  1. Kevin says:

    Hey Jamie, great post. I’ve been doing stand up off and on for 15 years. Started off gangbusters and started middling and getting paid less than 2 years in. At one point I quit my job and went on the road full time. I was living the dream…for a while. All of a sudden I was getting sick of my act and myself. How could this happen after a life time of dreaming of being a comic? Well, I created a “comedy guy” that hit the stage, not myself and I hit the wall. I quit all together. Then I got the itch again recently having thrown out all my material and started fresh. I swallowed my pride and started at open mics all over again like it was 1998 but this time I’m going to be me. I’m having more fun now than at any point in my career. The lesson? Be true to yourself because that is the definition of success.

    Kevin

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