Lesson #1: How to Start a Life in Comedy (without leaving your comfort zone)
Hello Future Comedians,
Have you signed up for an open mic yet? Agreed to that talent show? No? I’m not surprised. It’s a very scary thing to say you WILL tell jokes. It’s much easier to say you WILL be famous.
Why is that?
I think our species generally enjoys saying ‘I will be’ more than ‘I will do’, because being implies that it’s already been done. Ugh. DOING THINGS. It’s the worst.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself: “This is a great time for a motivational speech! Gimme those pinsta-quotes! Get me that self-help book! Tell me I had the strength to start within me all along!”
Honey, let’s get real. You do NOT have the strength.
Sure, the universe offers many words of advice, because the universe is optimistic and thinks we are rational creatures. Rational, we are not. No amount of cajoling and encouragement can overcome fear. And let’s face it, if you haven’t gotten on stage yet, you are afraid.
So my advice: Do what does NOT scare you.
For me, it was sending an email.
CUE FLASHBACK: It was my 31st birthday, 2017, and I thought ‘Enough is enough!’ I was tired of my ‘Will Be’ and my ‘Will Do’ selves never agreeing on anything. So I bravely opened my laptop at 11:50 p.m. and drafted the most courageous email you can imagine. I asked the booker at the Laughing Skull Lounge in Atlanta if I COULD get a spot on their OPEN MIC list. You can applaud my courage for as long as you require.
Did I have any jokes yet? Nope. Was I still scared to get on stage? Yerp. More importantly, was I pumped? VERY. Because I had gotten the ball rolling. Or perhaps, more realistically, I had given my unrefined, cube-shaped ambition a path without friction toward a target I desired.
So that’s it. To get started in comedy, don’t wait for the perfect timing or the perfect preparation. Just give yourself something you can do confidently and point it in the direction of your goals.
“You can stay in your comfort zone as long as you put your comfort zone to good use.” -Casey Black, comedy neophyte
For you, it may be writing an email. It may be filming yourself being silly in the bathroom. It may be joking around with friends, while secretly noting their responses. It may be putting a pencil to a piece of paper. Whatever it is, just do it. Nike style. Because it’s not at all scary or important.
QUICK TIP: When an opportunity presents itself, say “Can I?” instead of “I will!” because it’s very non-commital. Bonus points if you say “May I?” — How polite!
A) Pick something easy to do, and then do it for the love of comedy!
— OR —
B) Scroll Pinterest, listen to pop songs or read a self-help book for awhile, because you need the emotional boost. Some days you’ll need to retreat to move forward. That’s okay too. Treat yo’ self!
Lesson #2: How to Write Your First Joke without Jumping from a Moving Car