I have helped NUMEROUS comics become SUCCESSFUL road comedians making money solely off of their stand-up talents and quitting their day jobs to do so.
Pablo Francisco (above in 2005) is probably the MOST well known that I have helped make a successful career out of stand-up on the road. I have ALWAYS tried to encourage those who would like to try standup as I believe the spotlight can be widened and narrowed to allow those that have the passion to shine. Recently, my 21 year old son expressed an interest in doing a comedy open mic. I am VERY excited to help him on this journey to get his "comedy patch" to help him with his future passions. THIS is an amazing reminder of the journey I took when I first started standup at 17. I am going to attempt to share with you all the advice and steps I have shared with all those I have shown and become addicted.
You can Wiki me here to find out some background info if you want: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Britten (I have NEVER figured out how to edit that page, and the ONLY time my son tried, Wiki told him they would BAN him for incorrect info! HA!) I think it's MUCH more fun to see what OTHERS think I might have done!
First, getcha a notebook or pocket notebook or an app that will be able to hold all your AMAZINGLY funny premises! I mention all of those, but YOU have to find out what works best for YOU! I use scraps of paper, or my whiteboard, or sticky notes on my computer, and the app EVERNOTE (referal link: https://www.evernote.com/referral/Registration.action?sig=2e3bcba5bc9c98089fbdf87cced2add3bd3493e2f569634b47b8399a40a680d9&uid=53895570 ). I like Evernote, because it's free, and it syncs throughout all devices, so I can have my notes handy if I want. I DO find it difficult to write using this app. I have only "brainstormed" and written with paper and pen in the past, as most times, I can't type my ideas fast enough and the typos prevent me from keeping my original thought flow sometimes. So, for the most part, I put "finished" or more "scripted" bits on this app.
For MOST of my writing, I use pen and paper, as it allows me to draw arrows to thoughts or just jot down the premise so that I DON'T forget what it is I wanna brainstorm on later. I STILL have MOST of my hard copy notebooks that I will find laying around every now and again and I'll thumb thru them to see if anything piques my interest. Here what ONE of them looks like from 1999!
My son was only 3 then. I showed this notebook to my son, so he would not get self conscious about ANY way he wanted to keep notes! There IS no RIGHT way, there is ONLY YOUR WAY!
CHECK OUT HOW OLD the page above was!! There is a PEE WEE Herman masturbating joke! That happened in 1991!! THAT is how old that page is!! My son actually wrote those scribbles in the original and then later, in an A.D.D. effort, I attempted to consolidate that page into the notebook and it never took as you can see. Here are MORE that apparently, I just tore from another notebook and shoved into the "working" notebook! HAHAHAHA!
Keep doing this until you THINK you have 2-3 minutes of material or premises you can build upon. Usually a month or so of conscious effort will yield you enough material to go "try" onstage at an open mic!
During this writing phase, you need to start looking for local open mics in your area. Here in Colorado Springs, there is a weekly periodical that shows ALL the local events happening at the bars. I even found some of them by just typing "open mic" into google!
Here in Colorado Springs there were about 3 a week you could hit for awhile. I visited a LOT of them and found a HUGE disparity in crowd and vibe, so I recommend you visit any and ALL open mics to catch a vibe of the places you MIGHT decide to perform at! **** DO NOT introduce yourself first time in. This is a VERY amateur mistake.**** I KNOW you are excited to do open mic, but the people holding the open mic are NOT usually as excited to see you as you are to perform. Just go watch once or twice until you find the open mic you think you might be MOST comfortable at.
IF you are serious about this, DO NOT invite your friends or family out with you on this journey until you have 5 minutes of good material that you have honed! Comedy and the starting of it is best done and learned without distraction. IF you take this seriously, you WILL be able to make money doing it. Plain and simple. But if you are only trying to go up to conquer your fears and DON'T wanna do this for a living, then by all means bring your friends and let them cheer you on to your first stage debut. After you have been a couple of times, you can start conversations with the other comics by saying, "Hey, great set! I really liked your joke about...." MOST comics LOVE to hear the joke you liked and like to talk shop about themselves. Ask the bartender how to sign up for open mic and they will most likely point you to the "comic in charge". Yes, there will MOST likely be a comic running the whole ordeal, so get ready to insert yourself into a political arena where MOST comics believe they are FIGHTING for stage time. This is a fallacy, because IF you do everything I tell you to, you will be a well rounded "preferred performer" that will NOT get shut out of the open mics.
DO NOT worry about filling ALL THREE MINUTES or ALL OF YOUR TIME! ***** It is MUCH better to do ONE MINUTE than to do 3 minutes and ONLY have ONE of the minutes be funny. *****THIS will save you a lot of headache and will ALWAYS cause the hosts of the open mic to invite you back! PLEASE REMEMBER ANY TIPS I PLACE BETWEEN ASTERISKS! These can help you save sooooooo much time by PREVENTING you from making mistakes that I made which ALWAYS set me back a couple of months! So, this is VERY important ***** NEVER try to do more time than you REALLY have*****! The person who does the one minute and kills will ALWAYS be invited back because they exhibited 1) knowledge of their skillset 2) respect for the stage time they were given. I have seen so many comics try to prove they have 4 minutes of material and end up attempting to shove it all within 3 minutes and they just look a wreck! They have the passion, it's just not focused. Or, they go OVERTIME and piss off the person running the open mic as well as the comics waiting their turn for stage time!
DO NOT be shocked if the comedians outnumber the audience. When I started in 1987, clubs were PACKED on open mic nights and you had to be polished to get your stage time. That is NOT the case now. You MUST be MORE dedicated than I was in order to make it nowadays. Don't worry, I'll give you the shortcuts here!
If you have any questions about the above parts, lemme know! I LOVE talking shop and I love being an inspiration! I am a DREAM COACH, not a Life Coach... You gotta get your own life together, I can help you get your dream together! Ninja, Please!