Always ahead of the punch line? Put that GSOH to good use.
Where to Start?
For stand-up comedians it’s a tough field to break –testing out your material in bars and pubs for very little or no pay is a slog, and in most cases there will be a lot of rejection along the way. But if you are passionate about it, it will be a rewarding road as well.
Once you’ve developed your first ideas, find a local open mic night to test your material and work on your timing and delivery. As you gig you will slowly develop an act, and then eventually a reputation on the circuit. You’ll most likely be doing this while holding down a day job, so be prepared to put the time in! Deliver it to anyone who will listen – family, friends and other comedians – as you figure out what your act is about. Head to sites like Chortle and comedy.co.uk and absorb as much as you can about the industry.
You can then try and develop from open mics to paid gigs. It may be that you work up from the bottom of the line-up to the headline set, or that another act remembers you for their show, or that you catch the eye of a comedy promoter – there’s no clear route for the next steps. Many writers also start out this way before stepping away from the stage as other avenues open up (with potentially more stability).
For this reason it’s important to network and make sure your social media and website (if you have one) are representative of you as a professional. If you’re not online, you should be – the internet is essentially free advertising space. Upload videos to YouTube, build up relationships with other comedians and promoters - get yourself out there.
If you have good ideas and good jokes but don’t fancy the stand-up circuit, you may be suited to script writing. Have a look at the BBC Writers Room – which offers practical advice, plus opportunities for you to hone your skills. You can even send them an original script.
In March 2014, The BBC launched its first e-book for aspiring radio comedy writers which you can get for free here.
There are also comedy courses around like this one from Amused Moose.
The most important thing is to keep on writing. Carry a pen and paper at all times – ideas will spark as you’re on the bus, in the gym, half-asleep... If you’re amusing yourself, you’re getting there.
Jobs in Comedy
Want some practical tips and insight from someone working in the industry? We picked the brains of comedy producer and performer Dave to find out how he got to where he is now.