This is an old blog. I’m going to update it, add to it and re-post it. It’s a collection of random things I’ve learnt as a comedian, and thoughts I’ve had about the comedy circuit in general.

Every couple of weeks I get emails from new comedians asking for advice. To be honest I tell most of them to GIVE UP because I don’t need the competition and I don’t think the world needs anymore jokes about Chewbacca or Ninjas … but if you’re a beginner you might find something of interest/help in here. I’ve also asked a bunch of comedians I really like & respect to give their thoughts, I’ll be posting those soon. There are no rules to Stand-Up Comedy, these are just some things I’ve learnt…

I’ll add to this list every couple of weeks so keep checking back.

Part 2 : Ian Moore

Comedian, Author, and Chutney-Maker. Books, blogs, audio downloads and home-made chutney available at ianmoore.info

  • If you think compering is just about picking on the front row, you’re wrong. The second row are the smug ones.
  • Don’t wear a suit if you don’t know how to wear a suit.
  • Do not start your set with, “I know what you’re thinking, I look like the love-child of…” They aren’t and you don’t; write a joke instead.
  • Don’t look to be ‘edgy’ over ‘funny’. And certainly never in the dressing room, that stuff’s tedious enough onstage.
  • You’re doing an open spot in a club, do not talk about ‘your show’ at the Edinburgh Festival. It doesn’t validate you. Nobody cared about you in Edinburgh and they certainly don’t care about you outside of the place.
  • ‘Wow! You’ve got how many Twitter followers? You must be great.’ Nobody said that ever. Write some jokes for live people who are actually in front of you.
  • If you’ve got new material that you want to road test, try and slip it casually into a dressing room conversation. Everyone loves that.
  • I always think acts who ostentatiously set up a recording device at every gig are trying to give the impression they’re prolific. They rarely are.
  • My first agent, at Off The Kerb, once told me, “Don’t do filth. It’s all been done before, so unless you are completely original, you’ll just remind bookers and TV of other, better acts.” Plus, filth – does your joke get a genuine laugh or an uncomfortable one?
  • The circuit may be contracting, there may be fewer gigs and more comedians but bills are more diverse, more interesting and more talented than when the circuit was its ‘height’. You had a good run; get over it.
  • Be arrogant if you want, but you better be able to back that shit up with talent. Best just to turn up on time, be polite and do your stuff. It’s not difficult.
  • Puns are for Cants.
  • Facebook should not be writing your jokes. If you can’t, for example, think of ‘middle class things’, move along.

Part 1 : Jo Caulfield

  • Most comedians started the same way. They phoned a comedy club, they were given a 5 min slot, they went along, and did it. Some had to wait 2 weeks for their slot, some had to wait 2 months. But it all came down to phoning a club, turning up on the night, getting up on stage and doing it.
  • Repeat this again and again and again… and you will get better.
  • Stagetime is everything.
  • No topic is off limits. Every subject under the sun is open to debate and ridicule. Just make sure you have the right intentions and can justify them if challenged.
  • Avoid using words in the set-up that are in the punchline.
  • Don’t worry about the people that don’t get you. They don’t matter.
  • A lot of your bookings will come via recommendations from fellow comedians. Complete the circle. You know a promoter who’s looking for some comics? Pass on some names and numbers. Don’t try to keep it all for yourself.
  • Try and work in good clubs with good comedians. It’s like playing a sport – you raise your game playing with a better player.
  • Use visual words as opposed to passive words.
  • Modulate your voice to underscore a line.
  • If you’re given the choice between a brand new radio mic or an old fashioned mic with a lead – take the old mic with the lead every time.
  • Gigging out of town? Walk round the town. Keep your eyes open. One local observation can get the audience on-side straight away. It shows you actually care about the show, and aren’t just trotting out your set.
  • A touch of red light mixed into the white spotlight makes you look more healthy.
  • Scribble notes. Keep your notes in a box. Pull the notes out at random and be surprised by your ideas. Or make a nice paper-mache collage.
  • Produce your own live show or project at least once – it’ll give you a better understanding of how hard it is to promote and run a comedy show. You’ll also learn what pisses promoters/club bookers off.
  • It doesn’t have to be attack, attack, attack – show some humility and be the butt of your own jokes.
  • Slow down. And then slow down some more. Let the audience hear and appreciate what you’re saying. Don’t be so keen to rush to your next line.
  • PROMOTERS: The comedian goes on first THEN the band. Never the other way around. A comedian can’t follow two guitars, bass, drums, pyrotechnics and stage-diving … no matter how sharp his/her observations about cats and dogs are.
  • Saturday night audiences want their comedian dressed up. Sunday night audiences want their comedian dressed down.
  • Never apologise for being a women on stage. Even if it’s part of a joke I still think it’s a mistake. There are more women than ever doing comedy, just be funny. No-one thinks you are a stripper, it’s a comedy club.
  • You’re actually making it harder for yourself. Just start your act. You’re up and running, now the audience thinks you’re a funny person who is a woman.
  • If you apologise it feels to me like you are letting down every woman in that audience. If you are head of accounts and have to do a presentation about next year’s predicted growth; would you start a meeting with a joke about how it’s different for you to be an accountant because you’re a woman? Or how they must be disappointed because it’s a female accountant?
  • Try a new joke three times, if it doesn’t work – throw away the audience.
  • If you get paid for doing what you want to do – you’re a success.