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Playing the Fool, Seriously!

Looking back, I always played the fool in school and college (I still do!). Then, about six years ago, I participated in a stand-up competition, which I won. Still, I never took it seriously. Around three years ago, a friend of mine asked me to perform at his company anniversary celebration. People loved the performance, although I thought everyone was laughing because they were high. Then around a year ago, another friend asked me to do stand-up on ‘digital marketing’ at a digital marketing meetup. This was challenging because no one ‘jokes’ about digital marketing! However, I took it up and audience was beyond entertained. After that, I didn’t look back.

I had the opportunity to create my comedy show (now streaming on Hotstar and also available on YouTube), ‘Business News You Can Misuse’, where I mix weekly business news with stand-up comedy. While many comedians in India doing great work, the genre of ‘business comedy’ remains largely untapped. And I am passionate about entrepreneurship! So I combined my love for comedy and entrepreneurship to create ‘Business News You Can Misuse’. It falls into the ‘edutainment’ section – both entertaining and educating! I believe that soon this kind of news will become mainstream because news elsewhere is simply depressing. The first episode itself was an overwhelming success. Currently, I create two episodes per week and I love the experience!

Let me tell you though, creating content is not easy! There are times when you sit for hours, and you don’t a single line! There are times when you are not even thinking about content and a killer line hits you! I believe writing content for stand-up comedy is a game of patience and perseverance. Creativity is not a tap which you just open, and it will start flowing! You need to commit your time, think about topics from different perspectives and keep writing. The more you write, the better you become. Jokes go through a lot of improvisation. Most importantly, you need to enjoy the process of writing. Every great stand-up comedian is a great writer first.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

When it comes to choosing topics, I always consider things that I feel strongly about in the current moment. I personally believe that when it comes to choosing topics – don’t go outside, go inside and you’ll see there’s a lot to talk about.

When anyone says that they are not nervous while doing stand-up, they are either lying or aren’t very good at it! Nerves are good – they make you human and show your vulnerable side. The audience likes that because it helps them relate to you. The idea is to channelize that nervous energy into something positive. If you are putting pressure on yourself, ‘I need to make them laugh at every joke’, then the situation might get the better of you. But when you go up there telling yourself, ‘Hey, let’s have a good time and laugh along with my audience’, you’ll end up rocking the show. At the end of the day, it’s all about the mindset. Content can take you from A to C, but the right mindset will take you from C to Z!

My Advice for Aspiring Stand-Up Comedians

  • Don’t think too much – If you keep thinking ‘will this work?’, guess what, it won’t work. Stop thinking and start doing. If you have a nice topic in mind, go ahead and perform at your local open mic. Don’t worry if people don’t laugh. That’s part of the game. You need to be objective about the whole process. Even A+ comedians test their content at small clubs and not everyone laughs at those jokes. But then, that’s the process. You get crucial feedback which you can incorporate before you try it out again. But if you don’t try, you’ll never know. A lot of people want to give a shot at stand-up comedy, but they are always ‘thinking’ about it. Won’t work!
  • Don’t look for ‘short term success’ – Every comedian wants their video to go viral. Well, it doesn’t work that way. It takes time. It takes effort. So if you are in it for the short term, don’t get into stand-up! This is a form of art which requires many, many years to master.
  • Stage time – Perform as much as possible! The more stage time you get, the better it is! If you are serious about stand-up, then you need to perform at least ten times a week at open mics. The audience is your best judge. You’ll realize what is working and what isn’t. It takes months to put together five minutes of A+ content. It takes nine months for a baby to be delivered. Everything good takes time!

Above all, you must enjoy the process! If you are not laughing along the way, the audience won’t!

Author

  • Anmol Garg

    An engineer by profession, Anmol Garg is passionate about entrepreneurship and is the of Founder of Sales5X, a company that equips entrepreneurs and sales executives with 21st century selling skills. He specializes in business comedy and performs at corporate events; he is also the creator of several comedy shows with a dedicated fan following.

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