How to Become a Comedian – Studying Stand-Up Comedy Using Different Mediums

One of the fastest ways to learn how to become a comedian is by studying stand-up comedy. You’ve likely been studying stand-up comedy for many years by watching your favorite comedians. When you’re learning how to become a comedian though, you want to go far more in-depth than you did as a mere audience member.

How To Become a Comedian Video


Learning How To Become a Comedian

The more you study stand-up comedy the more distinctions you’ll make between what great comedy looks like and what fails to engage audience members. You’re first goal when learning how to become a comedian should be to study comedy and get an in-depth understanding of what makes great comedy.

Who do you learn this information from? Well, there’s several choices. Obviously, this information is available at … but for our purposes let’s look at other places where you can learn this information.

Different Ways to Learn How to Become a Comedian

Using YouTube to Learn How to Become a Comedian

The first place you should study stand-up comedy to learn how to become a comedian is through YouTube. There are tons of great, high quality stand-up comedy performances posted on YouTube by comedians of all different abilities. You can learn from each and every one of them. Either you’ll see a comedian crush on stage and you’ll be able to study what works or you’ll see them bomb and study what doesn’t work. Either way, if you’re learning how to become a comedian you’ll end up achieving your goal much quicker for doing it. Ask yourself this question, “What would happen if I spent only 20 minutes watching YouTube videos and dissecting what makes the best/worst comedy out there?” Isn’t it true that you could learn a lot in 20 minutes of actively searching for and watching the best comedy out there and dissecting it? How much better would your own writing be a month or year down the road simply by doing this one simple exercise?

This is one of the main ways I learned how to become a comedian. It’s not always about “reinventing the wheel.” Sometimes the best thing you can do for your career is find out what’s ALREADY working, dissect why it works, and apply it to your own unique style of writing.

Learning How to Become a Comedian By Watching Live Shows

A second way to learn how to become a comedian through watching comedy is by actually visiting a stand-up comedy club or a show. Comedy clubs are slightly different that what you’ll get on YouTube because it’s live. If you want to learn how to become a comedian then live performance is the best place to learn. The biggest benefit of watching a live show instead of a YouTube is that live shows have less consistency to them… generally. A comedian usually won’t post videos of sets that don’t go well or that have a drunk person interrupting  their timing. These are great skills to watch and learn from while they’re actually happening. But it does have drawbacks to it was well. It’s more difficult to really dissect a live performance because you can’t pause the video as you go and think about what the comedian is doing. So even though there are some major drawbacks to this method, it’s still a very important component to learning how to become a comedian.

Who Should You Study to Quickly Learn How to Be a Comedian?

That also brings up the question “WHO do I learn from?” If you’re just learning how to become a comedian then the answer is fairly simple… anyone. As you develop your career and your writing abilities more and more you’ll begin to be choosier, but for the person just starting to learn how to become a comedian, anyone will do. This is because it gives you a wide range of experience early on. It’s likely that if you’re just starting out you have a very limited number of tools and strategies for writing and performing, which is how all comedians begin their career. Getting a wide variety of experiences early on will introduce you to many new tools and writing styles that you didn’t even know existed, and it’s likely that one of them will jump out at you and change the course of your career. The earlier on we introduce ourselves to a wide variety of performances the better our chances of learning how to become a comedian that can incorporate flexibility in our writing.

Eventually though, you’ll want to begin to be choosier with who you learn from. Not because you can’t learn from anyone, but because you’ll start specializing in a single form of writing (while staying flexible and combining other forms at the same time). When you specialize in a single form of writing you’ll want to choose comedians who excel in that particular form of writing for your study. Instead of looking for a wide breadth of knowledge that doesn’t take much studying to learn (i.e. “just getting a ‘grasp’ on it), you’ll want to really dig down deep and dissect everything about what makes that comedian excel at your particular style of writing. Continually ask yourself questions. Don’t just watch a video clip once, watch it 20 or 30 times! Each time look for something new or try to understand something on a deep level than you did previously. This kind of information pushes your career forward much faster than simply “watching stand-up comedy.”

This is a practice I used very early on in my career because I wasn’t located next to any easily accessible shows to perform on. In college, I had to drive over an hour to get to the nearest show. So I used YouTube as one of my main sources of comedy knowledge. I learned how to become a comedian by watching many different types of comedians and doing in-depth analysis of the comedians that really jumped out at me.

There’s no set time limit for how long learning takes because you’ll always be able to learn something. Learning how to become a comedian all depends on how much time and effort you put into it. Excellent comedians are those that push the boundaries, and it starts with pushing the boundary of studying comedy. Simply put, they study comedy far more than average comedians. Eventually, you’ll get so many tools and understand the stand-up comedy writing and performing strategies so well that you’ll be getting less and less from these study sessions. At that point, you’ll want to dial down the studying and emphasize writing and performing (notice that I don’t say “and THEN start writing and performing” … you should be doing this simultaneously).

What Are We Looking For When Learning How To Become a Comedian by Observing?

Similarly murky is what we’re actually looking for. Since there’s so many tools and strategies for how to become a comedian there isn’t a set list of ideas we’re looking to glean from studying. Ideally, you’d like to learn something nobody has ever noticed before and then emphasize it in your own stand-up comedy performances to create extreme differentiation in your own career. However, this is easier said than done.

What you’re really looking for is any tactic that you can apply in learning how to become a comedian, whether it’s writing or performing. Some ideas you’ll apply to your writing to generate different types of ideas than you usually come up with. Other ideas you might pick up will be performance-based (such as noticing a comedian speaks to the entire audience, even the ones that are on the side of the stage). In fact, it’ll likely even remind you of funny jokes you’ve made in the past. A comedian hits on a subject and reminds you of a joke you made with a friend months ago that you could now writing into your comedy.

Jared Volle

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