How to Break Into Comedy Writing

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There's always room for talented and passionate stand-up comedy writers. It's a hard business to break into - long hours spent in night clubs for little to no money - but when you do break in, the rewards are high pay and getting to be funny for a living.

Things You'll Need

  • Joke Books
  • VCR Tapes
  • VCRs
  • Cassette Tape Recorders
  • Cassettes
  • Breath Fresheners
  • Read about the comedians you find interesting.

  • Record comedians you see on television and study their style.

  • Know a good joke when you hear one. If comedians are the cars, then jokes are the gas.

  • Immerse yourself in the business and establish a good reputation; practice the same professionalism you would in any profession in which you want to succeed. Don't steal jokes, and if you're hired, deliver material on time and as promised.

  • Find out who's playing in the clubs and who the up-and-coming comics are. Then go see those comedians.

  • Go backstage and talk to the comedians about their work. Alternatively, don't hesitate to send a note backstage or approach a comedian at the bar. If a comedian is in the market for jokes, he or she will want to talk to you.

  • Make contacts; one of those comedians may one day buy your jokes. Try to develop relationships with a wide variety of performers.

  • Know that nobody in show business can see into the future and that most people, particularly those in power, go along with the status quo.

  • Feel sorry for the people who turn you down; they're losing the opportunity to work with a great writer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Realize that "no" means nothing. Persevere.
  • If you're working hard, luck isn't as big a factor as you think. If you don't get a break from one source, you'll get it from another.
  • Comedy writers are night crawlers by definition. They have to watch comedians perform in order to master different styles. This may not be a good profession for you if you are a morning person.
  • There is a lot of rejection in comedy. Acceptance by one comedian probably means umpteen "no's" by others. On my resume I list that I wrote for Phyllis Diller and Bob Hope; I omit the fact that I didn't write for Henny Youngman.

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