How To Do Stand Up For The First Time: A Complete Guide

Stand-up is a format of comedy where a performer makes jokes in front of a live audience. Their main goal is to make the audience laugh and build rapport with the people around them.

When it comes to doing stand-up comedy, there are a few strategies to be successful. Practicing over and over again helps a comedian get their act together and keep the audience entertained. Taking classes and gathering comedy material from your life are good places to start.

Below is a guide on doing stand-up for the first time. If you're ready for the journey, follow the tips below.

Take a Class

You may be naturally funny, but telling jokes to a group of friends is way different compared to performing in front of an audience. Taking a class is a great idea when it comes to doing stand-up comedy for the first time. It can set you up for success. Taking a stand-up class can help you progress faster and learn from others.

Although taking a class may not sound very appealing, a class can help you write, edit, and perform jokes. A teacher can give you guidance on what is working and what is not working. A class can help you get comfortable, especially being on stage. When you are in a room full of other comedians, you will learn from your fellow peers.

There is a lot of great opportunities to meet new people and get guidance. A class is a great way to help you grow. Your teacher can give you great advice, and help you become a better comedian. If you have never performed or tried stand-up comedy, then do not pass up the opportunity on taking a class. You never know what you may learn from others. The people around you can influence you and you may take away important ideas from a class.

Watch and Learn

Watching others perform is a great teaching strategy for learning. You can see what performers are doing on every level. When you go to a performance, you can learn and watch how others perform on stage. Pay close attention and observe those around you.

It is important to pay close attention to what may be working in someones else performance and what is not. Pay close attention to the audience and see how they report to the act.

Every performance is so different and each person is different when they perform on stage. They may use different gestures or have a different sense of humor than others. The more performances you watch, the more you will learn. It can help you pay attention to the outstanding performers and the performances that may need more work done.

Another thing to pay attention to is how much the performer is talking and how often they are silent. Pay attention to what is making people laugh. Usually, people laugh at things that are out of place or surprising. Study the structure, and examine the entire performance. The more observant you are, the faster you will understand what you need to work on. Going to an open mic is often a good idea. It is simple and easy to learn from others. It is easy to observe and get great ideas. The more you watch, the more you will learn.

After the show, take notes and jot down any thoughts you had. Take notes about what worked, and would didn't work so well. Write down information, talk to people, and chat with the host. You will soon realize that you can perform like this as well. Go to as many performances and you can and use them to your advantage.

Get Material

Some of the best performers are the ones who share the most information. They are relatable and open with their personal life. Performers may reveal things about their life or how they grew up. They may share lessons they have learned from growing up.

To start gathering material, here are a few questions to ponder:

  • Who am I?
  • Who influences me?
  • Where did I grow up?
  • How have I grown?
  • What personal experience have I had?
  • What defines you?
  • What do I think is funny?
  • How do others view me?

Write about what defines you. Everyone has their own voice and style. The audience is there to see you and to watch you perform. They will respond to you, so it's best to use your own material, not knock-offs of someone else's jokes. When someone shares something about their personal life, it is easier to connect with them and their performance.

Start Writing Jokes

After you have an idea of what you want to write about, it is time to start writing. As you are writing, keep your audience in mind. When you pick an idea, approach your idea as if you are writing a story for the audience. Answer the when, what, and where questions in your writing. It is important to focus on why you are writing and what you would like to tell the audience.

Is there a message you would like to leave them with? Keep the writing flowing and do not worry a lot about your spelling. The audience will never see your grammar. The audience cares about what you are talking about and how relatable it is. Will the audience be entertained by what you are saying? Keep in mind how much something may make someone laugh.

Writing each day can help inspire new ideas. Set aside time each day to write and develop. Having time between each session will help you brainstorm ideas. It is important to constantly revise your writing. Your writing will be revised many times before it is in its final form. You may have to switch around your material or switch around jokes.

The more you write, the more ideas you will have to work with. Jot as many things as you can down. Some things may work better eventually. Each day you are doing and learning different things. Different ideas may constantly come to mind. Brainstorming is a great strategy so you have plenty to work with.

Assemble your Act

When it comes to assembling your act, formatting is key. One thing to pay attention to is how the performance flows. Make sure you know how to shift directions if you think you may be losing your audience. Remember that less can actually be more. You do not want to overwhelm your audience, you want to entertain them.

Pay attention to the way you arrange your jokes and have backup jokes ready. Consider the words and emotions you choose. Every part of the performance matters.

Here are a few things that make an act better:

  • The first important thing is the opening. The opening will predict how the show may go. It is important to start with a joke to make the audience laugh. The first joke will get the audience's attention and make them laugh. The opening can help set the tone throughout the show. Start the audience off on a good note and keep them entertained.
  • Bits are funny jokes that make the audience laugh. They have endings that the audience will not expect.
  • A transition is a way to connect one joke to the next. Make sure to have smooth transitions in the performance. This will make it simple to transition to another joke.
  • The close is the final joke of the show. Having a solid close is just as important as having a good opening. It will leave the audience with a good impression.


Rehearsing your act will help you prepare for your performance. Every great performer will rehearse before they perform in a show. When it comes to rehearsing, find a few people you trust to prepare your act. These could be close friends, family members, or other comedians. Make sure they will be honest though! You don't want sugar-coated criticism when you're preparing for the rough and tumble world of comedy.

Go through a trial run and use some test jokes on your audience. They can give feedback and help you practice. You will never know how good your act is until you practice.

Have your friends time you and make sure you have enough material. Be open to last-minute changes that may be made based on the feedback. When you perform in front of someone else, they may see things that you did not. They can give you feedback on your writing, the content, and overall performance. They can also give you feedback on how your gestures and rhythm are working with the performance.

It is important to remember to express yourself throughout the act. Your comedy will have more power when your audience can identify and understand you. When you are not expressing yourself, you are just using words. Remember that the performance does not have to be perfect.

Here are a few tips for your act:

  • Memorizing an act will help you in your final performance. This is the best way to get familiar with what you are saying. The more you perform, the easier it will be to memorize.
  • Timing is all about how you are filling up your time. Practice will make perfect. What pace are you going? How fast are you speaking? Are you relaxed?
  • Gestures are how your rhythm is and how relaxed you are. Be engaged, have a steady pace, and act naturally. The more confident you act, the better your performance will be.
  • Always edit the performance. If something does not capture the attention of the audience, remove it. Do not get too attached to one joke. If something has a positive response, keep it in the performance.


Performing requires a strong start to keep the audience entertained and interested the entire time. It also requires a strong finish. When it comes to performing, energy is important. The audience is there for you and you want to make it worth their time. Remember to keep the performance light and have great content.

The way you say things and express yourself matters in the performance. Don't be upset if the audience does not laugh at all of your jokes. It is also important to not worry about messing up too much. There are plenty of opportunities to perform.

Before you perform, make sure to research the venue to get a feel for it. You can get a feel for what type of audience you will have and who has performed there before. You will also get a feel for what type of audience you will be writing to.

Evaluate your performance

After your performance, an evaluation comes in hand. It is essential to listen to feedback after you perform. This can be from audience members or comedians. Performing is all about the learning experience. It is important to self-evaluate your performance. Some things to ask yourself are what you can do better next time and how to make the performance better.

Each performance will give you a better idea of what may be working and what is not. Performing for the first time can be scary. You will learn what works best for you early on. Another great thing to do is have a friend record a video of you so you can watch it later. Performing will not be mastered overnight. Every great comedian started exactly where you are. They had to learn from their mistakes and grow.

Keep writing and trying to get on stage as often as you can. The more time spent on stage, the more you'll be able to practice and learn. Performing allows you to create ideas and helps you become comfortable. The more you perform, the better the material will be. There are always opportunities to practice, rewrite material, and become better.

This may even take years, but it is important to stick with it. The first time performing may often feel scary or rewarding. After you finish, sign up for another performance and never get discouraged. Failure can only help you grow and change. It can help you become successful.

Always give jokes a try, and if they don't work, try something new. If the audience laughs, this means they are connected with you and that they were entertained by what you had to say. The more you perform, the more you will grow.

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