John Mulaney, Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin Hart, Robin Williams, Tina Fey; chances are, you thought of comedy while reading these names. These comedians light up the stage and the screen. Almost everything they say makes the audience die of laughter. But they're just regular people, and if they can do it, so can you.
But how can you tell if you're meant to be a comedian? How do you know beforehand if you'd do well on a stage, or if you'll flop? Here are some signs that you would do great as a one-man show. Some things will come naturally, while others need to be developed.
You're a Natural Storyteller
You know when people ask you, "I had a weird dream last night; do you want to hear it?" And then they go on for thirty minutes, telling a rambling story that always ends with: "...and I forgot what happens next"?
If you don't have this problem, Hallelujah! When you tell your story, you know what to emphasize, you know when your audience is getting bored, and most importantly, you know how to save the punchline for the end.
Comedians are storytellers. They have to entertain a crowd for hours with a mic. That's it. They have to weave the tale so the audience is holding onto every word. They have to make their voice sparkle, they have to role-play, and they have to keep it going for a long time. If you know how to tell stories (and tell them well), then you're ready to get up there and make people laugh.
You Love to Make People Laugh
There's no better feeling in the world than cracking a joke and the room bursting into laughter around you. You smile, trying not to look too pleased with yourself, but you can't hide the way it makes you feel. They're happy--you're happy. You surprised them, and not only that, but you surprised them with joy. That's the best surprise there is. There's a reason the Muppets say that the "third greatest gift ever" is laughter.
In your mind, there's nothing better than a well-timed joke. And if you absolutely love making people laugh, then you've got the right motivation to be a comedian. Sure, fame is nice, but doing something just to become famous doesn't always work out. As long as you love making people laugh, you'll be happy doing it at Radio City Music Hall or that old diner by your childhood home.
You Love to Laugh
When you watch movies, you don't often pick the gritty, edgy ones that always leave you depressed. You pick comedies, you pick uplifting ones, or even Disney movies when you know there's bound to be that one character who cracks jokes even at the most dire moments. You probably even have a few of their stand-up routines memorized.
If you love comedy, you're more likely to be drawn to perform it yourself. It's much easier to do something that you love.
You Can Read People
You can read a room. You can tell how people are feeling by the way they stand, move, and even breathe. When you're telling your friends a joke, you can tell the difference between a bunch of fake laughs and genuine enjoyment.
This is a great skill, and it'll do you a lot of good when you're on stage and one of your jokes isn't playing as well as you thought it would. Not every joke will be a hit, and reading your audience is super important when it comes to adapting on the fly and changing jokes for your next show.
Your Comedic Timing is On-Point
Timing is one of the most important parts of comedy. A joke can be hilarious, but it will lose that sizzle if it's rushed through or strung out for too long. Luckily for you, you know how long to wait to drop the punchline, and you know how long to keep a bit going before it's not funny anymore.
You Can Make Any Topic Funny
When you tell random jokes, people laugh. They can be about hot air balloons, a diner with a jukebox on repeat, or even just how you were scared of sharks in the pool, it doesn't matter. No matter what the topic is; you're funny.
Some people think that comedians have to talk about gross or edgy things to make the crowd uncomfortable enough to laugh. But as long as you pick topics you like, the audience will like it too. As John Mulaney once said, "if you don’t care, or if you don’t seem like you care, why should they care?"
You Have Writing Experience
You don't have to have a college degree in English, but you still know how to put your thoughts on paper. You have figured out how to weave a routine together, and you know how to write jokes.
If you don't have a lot of experience writing, don't worry. Getting better at writing is easy--all you have to do is sit down and write. Write the ideas that float around in your head all day, things that make you laugh, or childhood stories that just need a little polishing before they become absolutely hilarious. And don't worry; writing jokes is so much more fun than writing essays--we promise.
You Can Improvise
Writing jokes is important. But you don't always need prep time to come up with something absolutely hilarious. You can read the conversation and come up with the perfect comeback, making everyone laugh with a joke that didn't exist five seconds ago.
Comedians usually go on tangents, and more often than not, they're just as funny as the prepared material. Even professional actors and comedians do this. In movies, Jim Carey is known for going off-script--making the whole cast and crew crack up in the process. After all, laughter often comes when people are taken off-guard, and nothing's more unexpected than perfectly timed improv.
You Have a Thick Skin
You've told jokes that don't land. And yet, you're still smiling anyway. Working as a writer AND a performer all in one means you'll have to face a lot of rejection, criticism, and sometimes, hateful comments.
If you can be like a duck and let it all slide off your back, then you're ready to face your career as a comedian. Not only that, but if you can take criticism, then you'll be able to make adjustments and get even better.
You're Willing to Practice, Practice, Practice
You're not one to shy away from a lot of work. Comedians often start at the bottom of the barrel--so you know you have to work really hard for a long, long time. Practicing will polish your routine, help you cut jokes that just don't work, and make you comfortable enough to have fun up there.