How to Get Stand-Up Comedy Gigs

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A stand-up comedy gig is one of the more difficult jobs to land. The competition is fierce because of all the talented comedians vying for the same thing: a paycheck. However, you will eventually get a gig if you are prepared and, most importantly, patient.

  • Have at least five minutes of material prepared when you start out. That is the equivalent of three to four pages of written material.

  • Know your material inside and out. Recite your routine in front of friends and strangers. If you are shaky on some setups or punchlines, keep practicing until you know them cold.

  • Test out material in front of a crowd. Perform at open mic nights at clubs, bars, theaters or coffee shops. If you receive minimal laughs, rework your material until every punchline gets a laugh. You want to be hilarious throughout the entire set.

  • Get on stage on amateur nights. Contact local comedy clubs to see when they have an amateur night. Most clubs will videotape your set. If they like you, they will ask you to perform regularly or pass your name along to another club.

  • Network with other comedians. You increase your chances of getting a paying gig with every person you meet. More established comedians might take a shine to you and give your name to other club owners or talent managers.

  • Offer to host (MC) comedy gigs. You will introduce other comics, as well as test out some of your material. MC as many gigs as possible, from club shows to open mic nights.

  • Send your resume and demo reel to talent agents and managers. They will book paying gigs for you. Videotape every performance to build a demo reel. Once you have a composite of solid performances, send them to agents and managers.

  • Consider relocating to a big city. Most managers and club owners aren't willing to travel to where you live so you need to get to them. Los Angeles, New York and Chicago are the prime locations to perform and acquire a manager.

  • Start a website and a MySpace page. Today, the Internet is one of the best sources for self-promotion. Create a website that has video and audio of your material, along with contact information for bookings. MySpace has a section specifically for comedy. You can upload your material and post a link to your website.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you feel like your material is not getting better or you are not booking any gigs, consider buying books on stand up comedy, such as "Comic Insights: The Art of Stand-Up Comedy" by Franklyn Ajaye or "How to be a Working Comic: An Insider's Guide to a Career in Stand-Up Comedy" by Dave Schwensen (see Resources below).
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