Ways To Know You Have The Mind Of A Stand Up Comedian


Everyone with a pulse, loves to make people laugh. It is in our very nature to want to make others feel good, and laughter is a huge motivator. Not everyone, however, wishes to do this standing on a stage, in front of strangers, trying out original material written for the sole purpose of creating laughter. But, this does not mean that a person does not have the heart, or mind, of a professional joke teller. The following is a list of things that typically identifies those people who, without knowing it, have the mind of a Stand Up Comedian:

  • If you are typically the quietest, most withdrawn person, at a party: It is kind of strange to think that the most introvert of people would actually be one of the funniest, isn’t it? One of the most incredible traits of a stand up comic is that they are amazing at simply and quietly, observing the world around them. Word of caution; when you get these to people speak up, watch out! Hilarity may ensue and some feelings may be hurt!
  • If you remember watching Looney Toons in absolute silence: Although cartoons can be rather humorous, a stand up comedian watches them with a discerning mind. We know that cartoon is funny, but we try to figure out why?? The mind of a comic is extremely analytically geared and figuring out why something is funny only adds to that enjoyment, even if we don’t express it outwardly. I can still remember my old man walking in to the living room while my brother and I watched cartoons. Seeing what we were watching and not reacting with laughter, my dad yelled, in Spanish, “Rianse’, tontos!” (“Laugh, dummies!”)
  • You find the humor in even tragic events: In the mind of a comic, it is never “Too soon” to think of something funny in the face of tragic events. Although it is “Too soon” to express those funny thoughts audibly, a true stand up comic has the patience to find the levity of the situation, and use it at a more appropriate time. It may actually never be appropriate, but we’ll be damned if we don’t share those inner thoughts before our heads explode. Here’s an example: A father finds out that his 14-year-old daughter has already lost her virginity. Although devastated, the father can’t help but think, “Well, at least I’ll save a ton of cash not having to pay for a Quinceanera.”
  • You prefer to drive without the radio on: Most stand up comedians are entertained more so by the thoughts running in their heads than by One Direction playing on the radio. Even if the radio is on, chances are, we don’t even know what’s playing.
  • You talk to yourself…and answer back: Countless of times, during the day, a stand up comic has conversations with themselves. Often times, we are only replaying an actual conversation we had earlier with someone, that we felt could have gone much better. Perhaps we could have used more wit, or thrown in a funny one liner, but we missed the opportunity! How do we improve on that? Practice! Next time, it will only come out more effortlessly.
  • The only people who can make you laugh are children, your parents, or your significant other: It’s not that we don’t find other people funny, it’s just that we appreciate things for different reasons. In the case of children, we love the fact that they speak their mind and never filter their thoughts. Who better to find the fault in anything that a kid! In the case of our parents, it is more so that we have known them all of our lives and we know what to expect. Then one day, they do something totally unexpected and it cracks us up! I remember that I couldn’t stop laughing the first time I ever heard my mom say “shit!”. I’ll call that the “Betty White” effect. Oh, and let’s not forget our significant other. Let’s face it, you picked them because they brought a smile to your face, and there is no one better to laugh with than the one that shares your heart!
  • No humor is off-limits: Sure, you can’t joke about anything with just anyone! Sometimes you’ve got to know your audience. While it may be okay to joke with your best bud about serious issues, it would not be wise to joke that way out in the open where someone would actually get offended. Like it or not, everyone reading this blog has uttered inappropriate jokes with someone close to them. We will just leave it at that, okay?

I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but I would love to read your suggestions!

I hope you enjoyed this blog! :~)

Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There!


If you have been going to stand up comedy shows or performed on them often enough, eventually, you will see and hear things that make your butt cheeks tighten up and make you wanna say, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there!” Well, allow me to share a few of the moments I have been privileged to witness. Disclosure: Once you start reading, you can’t look away. Okay, here we go:

1. At an open mic, I witnessed a young man take the stage and proceeded to freeze. Nothing came out of his mouth. He literally took the mic and looked out at the audience and said nothing. I don’t know if it was stage fright or if this was his “bit”, but this “bit” lasted almost 10 minutes! He just stood there… I think maybe he uttered a word or two, but they certainly weren’t memorable. The audience felt tense for the guy. We all waited for him to say something. Anything! But, nope, it didn’t happen. His 10 minutes were up, he said “Thank you” and got off the stage. I’ve never seen the poor kid up on stage since…

2. At a regularly booked show, a comedian’s set wasn’t going particularly well and he was beginning to get heckled by a couple that took issue with one of his jokes. In an attempt to “riff” (engage the audience in a monologue), the comic dug himself a deeper hole. As the minutes wore on, the couple got louder and the jokes were no longer jokes. The comic tried his hardest to win them over but it didn’t help that the comic just got more insulting and less funny. At the end of his set, the comic tried to make amends with the couple and was completely ignored. That was tough to watch…

3. During another paid gig, a comic took the stage and started off well. Within about 15 minutes, the wheels started to fall off. All of a sudden, the material went a little “blue” (a term used to describe toilet or sexual type humor). The audience was no longer digging the material and the laughs suddenly stopped. Feeling the tension, the comic proceeded to scold the audience for not laughing, (not a good way to win an audience over). The comic ended his set 10 minutes shorter than what he was scheduled for. I watched, staring at the floor hoping I would become invisible…

4. A few years ago, during a weekend show at a comedy club in Arizona, the headliner took to the stage after the first two comics tore the room up! The comic had a “low key” style of delivery and, for the most part, had good material, but on this night, the audience was already used to the high energy of the first two comics. Well, that didn’t result well for him. The comedian started out well enough, but within about 20 minutes, the room started to slowly clear out. People were leaving. That has been the hardest thing to watch. The comedian made up for it the next night and performed an amazing set! But, what a price to pay…

Stand up comedy is like that. It’s not pretty. Each of the four incidents I described above will happen to every comic. If you’re in stand up comedy, and some of these things haven’t happened to you yet, well, you just haven’t been in the business long enough. If you are in denial about the reality of stand up, quit now.

Can You Win Them Over?


In a previous blog, I wrote about passing several milestones on your way to stand up comedy success. I’ve mentioned how it will take years to hone, perfect and get to the level every aspiring comedian dreams of. Tonight, I add one more notch to my journey.

Allow me to set the scene. Five comedians have already taken the stage. The first three completed sets of seven to ten minutes. The fourth comedian performed for almost half an hour and really got the crowd going. The fifth comic, and producer of the show, took to the stage and picked up where the last comic left off. He completed a twenty minute set and, for the most part, kept the attention of most of the audience, however, some of the patrons were beginning to get back to their regular, rowdy bar activities. By the time he was done, the audience no longer seemed to be in the mood to devote their attention to anyone holding a microphone.

Here we go:

1. I took the stage to no intro music. Considering that the promoter had just finished his set and was acting as the DJ for the night, I was out of luck!

2. All of the patrons seated at the bar had now started talking loudly and carried on their camaraderie despite the show in progress.

3. I came on to no applause. I literally walked up on stage and was handed the mic by the promoter, who made a valiant attempt at a very nice eulogy, er, I mean, introduction.

There is where it starts. The noise in the bar is too loud to get in to any prepared material. There are still a few tables up front with people who are gazing right at me as though they were about to witness a traffic accident but don’t have enough time to react, so, they just stare intently. In eight years, I’ve learned a thing or two about a crowd like this.

First, FIND THE ONES THAT ARE STILL WITH YOU. I spoke to those tables directly and was able to “Roll” nicely, with crowd work, into some of my prepared material.

Secondly, I’M THE ONE WITH THE MIC. The people seated at the bar may be talking loudly, but I’ve got the power of the mic! I spoke right into that big headed cone and pressed on to the delight of the people that were still pulling for me.

Thirdly, if I noticed that I’ve lost the attention of some of the willing and able members of the audience, I BROUGHT THEM BACK WITH A CONVERSATION DIRECTED RIGHT AT THEM. Yes, this required more crowd work, which might go over well, or not, but I was letting them know that I still needed them and who can help but not feel wanted at that point?

I moved fast so as not to let one laugh go stale. Kind of like licking that ice cream cone before too much of it melts into your hands. Yuck! I believe in pacing yourself on stage, but when the distractions are fast and furious, you NEED TO BE QUICKER TO THE PUNCH.

For about fifteen minutes, I struggled, and I CALLED THE MOMENT. I said, “I don’t care that I’m bombing. This is not new to me. I’ll stay here for another fifteen minutes while you all stare at me and watch the tragedy unfold. At the beginning of my set, I had stepped off the stage and walked among the front row of tables. At about midway through my set, the promoter motioned at me from the back of the bar to get back on the stage. I responded with, “You want me to bomb in the spotlight? I’d rather go through this in darkness!” With that statement, I won over a few more people who, I would assume, were ENDEARED TO ME BY MY SELF DEPRECATION.

By about the twenty minute mark, the bar chatter had completely died down and most of the audience was now hanging on my every word. I was now the center of attention, finally! I plugged along, and now, it was a real comedy show again. I finished strong and after I set the mic down, the majority of the audience, individually shook my hand and paid me compliments that will ring forever in my ears.

Is this the only time I’ll need to face this type of crowd? Well, if I’m going to be doing this for a living, I figure I will need to go through this at LEAST 100 or more times.