I am an Indian stand-up comedian. Being a stand-up comedian was never easy. It is still not easy. It takes a lot of self deprecation to stand-up in front of an audience, which is expecting you to make them laugh. Plus, there is the challenge to getting you and your life discovered somehow. Anybody who does stand-up comedy should do something else.
What does a stand-up comedian do?
You stand right there with many eyes looking at you, expecting you to be funny. You go up there trying to be funny. Everybody is judging you, every second of your stage time. They want to see if you have the right confidence, the right material, the right presence and the right delivery, to be able to make an audience laugh.
If the audience likes you, they laugh and you feel on top of the world. Your content falls at the right place at the right time. It works. People connect with you. They laugh at almost everything you say. The intensity of the laughter is high and you love yourself for making so many people happy.
What if they don’t laugh?
If the audience doesn’t laugh, you feel on the bottom of the world and you want to hide yourself in a rat hole where no one can see you. The tragic happened to you. You went in front of an audience and you said things which you thought were funny, but nobody laughed. They stared at you and felt sorry for you.
What went wrong?
You think about the possible answers to that question, all night.
Was it the content that wasn’t funny?
Or the delivery that wasn’t interesting?
Was the timing wrong?
Did I take longer pauses?
Did I take shorter pauses?
Should I have been a little slow?
Did I lack confidence?
Did I not connect with the audience?
You don’t know. So, you rework your content. You talk to other comics and seek their advice about what happened. You ask your friends, if you have any left, and they happened to be in the audience getting embarrassed about being your friend-the works.
Other challenges as a stand-up comedian
Those were the matters of the craft. Besides the craft, there are many other challenges a comedian, especially, a new comedian has to face. Stage time is precious and it is not easily available. There are a few open mics run by individual comedians and slots run out within a few minutes of the event being posted. A new comedian has to be online and keep on the lookout for events listings. For people with jobs, it gets extremely difficult to stay in touch with such listings.
The timings of the shows are late and families get affected. If you do stand-up comedy regularly, you will end your days by midnight or post midnight. Your parents reject you, for whatever you are doing. The author of the post is living separately from his parents so that they can sleep while he attends open mics. Parents wonder where they went wrong.
Keeping up with health becomes an issue while you stay up late. You miss your dinner, gate up late in the morning and miss breakfast many times. You start losing weight pointlessly or gaining weight, pointlessly. Pointlessness rules your schedule and your eating regimen.
There are many other challenges like marketing yourself, getting shows, doing unpaid gigs and keeping at it, while nothing seems to be happening.
Does becoming a stand-up comedian sound depressing?
Oh, does this all sound depressing? It’s not. It takes work, the ability to drink failure and patience, but one can start with stand-up comedy at any age.. Comedians do comedy because they love it. They love making people laugh and when they succeed, they feel amazing. They feel great about themselves and people love them for it. Oh, and I have heard, they make money too. I don’t, no.
If you plan to take up stand-up comedy, do it for the love for it. Any other reason and you will quit, soon. It is not easy, but it is worth, every minute of it. If you love, making people happier, even if for a few moments, will leave you eternally happier.
Thank you for reading.
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