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Where do I even begin?: Essential Tips for Aspiring Comedians

Updated: Jul 11

Getting started in stand up comedy here in Perth Western Australia with Grassroots Comedy. How to get into comedy
1. Watch Comedy, and Lots of It

Support the local comedy scene by attending as many shows as you can. Check out all the clubs in your area. We've seen numerous people who were fans for 2-3 years before deciding to perform themselves. Being a familiar face in the scene means room runners are more likely to support you and give you more spots. Although you'll most likely still be a part of a waitlist of some sort, they know you're invested and prioritise you over complete newcomers.

2. Register with Comedy Clubs

Get yourself registered on all the clubs' registration forms, or email the rooms directly. This ensures you're on their radar for upcoming spots and open mics. The more clubs you’re registered with, the more opportunities you'll have to perform.

3. Get a Headshot

A professional headshot is the only marketing tool you need starting out. It’s essential for promotional materials and helps bookers put a face to the name. A good headshot can make a strong first impression that you're willing to financially invest in something fundamentally useful for promoters. The number of bad photos we get is astounding, and people who simply don't care what they send or present to us, is indicative of what little they care about their stage time or their own comedy. We go as far as to say "How you do anything is how you do everything" on this one. We've written an article about headshots, you don't need to do anything fancy, you can simply get a friend to take a photo of you on a a white wall in a well-lit room would be far more superior than the webcam nostril selfies we get.

4. Bring People to Your Gigs

Promote the rooms and live comedy by bringing people to your gigs. This not only supports the venues but also builds goodwill with bookers. Many people in Perth aren’t aware of the comedy options available for a night out. Be the person who spreads the word and helps draw in new audiences.

5. Be easy to work with

Be easy to work with and leave your ego at the door. No one knows you yet, and you're here to learn and build relationships in a largely welcoming environment. Respect room runners and fellow comedians. Professionalism and kindness go a long way.

6. Take Up Courses

Invest in your craft by taking comedy courses. However, be cautious about spending too much. Avoid courses charging $800 for a few days. Instead, save money by watching shows, buying $100 courses, or asking experienced comedians for notes and book recommendations. You'll gain much more valuable knowledge this way. We're in the process of developing online material for an affordable price point, but in the meantime, we recommend buying "How to Kill at Comedy by Steve North"

7. Write Regularly

Consistent writing is crucial for developing your material. Set aside time each day to jot down ideas, craft jokes, and build routines. The more you write, the better you'll become at honing your comedic voice. Does it have to be good? No. A definite no. But this is 1000% better than doing absolutely nothing.

8. Perform Frequently

The only way to improve is to get on stage as often as possible and with any dates booked in, the preparation phase is SO IMPORTANT. Open mics are your best friend. If you're starting out, the Experimental Comedy Club is a great and welcoming environment, but due to our massive demand, there are a tonne of other rooms around town. Use them to test new material, learn from audience reactions, and build your confidence. Every performance is a learning opportunity. If you cannot perform frequently, it doesn't mean you shouldn't be rehearsing. We cannot overstate how underprepared a lot of people are, so never take your stage time for granted.

9. Engage with Other Comedians

Build relationships with other comedians. But seek advice from working comedians - if they're performing at rooms you want to perform in, then they're the best source of advice. "Beware the naked man who offers you the t-shirt from his back" - if they're a bad comic, and not gigging at places you want to perform in, chances are their advice is going to be terrible. Nonetheless engage with as many comics as possible as you'll stay informed about gigs and industry news. Comedy is a community, and having a strong support group can make a huge difference.

10. Study Comedy

Watch plenty of live comedy, watch as many pro shows as possible, go to the rooms you want to perform in and watch as much as you can. Read books, and listen to podcasts about comedy. Learn from the greats and analyse what makes them successful. Understanding different styles and techniques will help you develop your unique approach.

11. Stay Persistent and Patient

Success in comedy doesn’t happen overnight. It requires dedication, hard work, and resilience. Stay persistent, learn from your experiences, and be patient with your progress. Enjoy the journey and celebrate the small victories along the way.

12. Don't make such a big deal about wanting to get into comedy

Just do it. Get a booking. Go do it. Seriously nothing more cringe than seeing people get on comedy forums telling everyone about their background and desire to do comedy. It's great amongst your own friends if you need a false dopamine of encouragement, even better if you just do it and bring your friends to shows and wow them with your skills.

It's geniunely one of the worst things you can do to present yourself to a forum of comedians who have their own self-interests and don't want their time wasted with people who "Want to do comedy cos people have always said I'm funny". Just remember no one knows you, no one cares. There is a hierarchy and you will start at the bottom like all of us have. If you approach this by simply getting a booking, and wow'ing people on stage.

13. BONUS: Do I need a stage name?

No. Especially if its' gonna be goofy or flat out stupid. We get the worst stage names presented to us from people in the scene. Ginger Nasty, Baby Wolf, Big Anal, Rex Tavington, PHAT Dick, whatever. Do you really f*cking need a stage name? Grow up and treat this as a professional thing you intend to do, and present yourself like you would if this was a job or a proper career from DAY ONE.

Oh but I have a job and would like my anonymity in case I'm terrible. Ok fine, some people use their middle name or a fake surname to go with their first name. This way they can maintain boundaries between their comedy. Aside from very unique nicknames which your friends or people call you, and it comes across as authentic (and inoffensive) - Pony, Squirly are classic names which they are used to be referred off stage, not just on stage, this is the only real exception but it comes across as AUTHENTIC.

Fun Fact, because you've read this far - in our registration form, we have a stage name field, which we use to flag people we won't book, depending on what they impulsively decide to fill in that field. If you're making up a stage name just for the sake of it, perhaps put more impetus on your stand up comedy material instead.

Starting out in comedy is a challenging yet rewarding experience. By following these tips, you can navigate the comedy scene more effectively and set yourself up for success. Remember, the key is to stay dedicated, keep learning, and most importantly, have fun with it!

What's next?

  1. Read the Guide to the Perth Comedy scene which has useful articles.

  2. Join The Perth Comedy Collective

  3. Follow @grassrootscomedyau and @experimentalcomedyau on Instagram and Facebook for all the news and updates on new rooms and knowledge of the Perth comedy scene and events.

  4. Review the constantly active and regularly updated Perth Comedy Gig Spreadsheet - and Register on all the room registration forms

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