There’s a big difference between a funny guy making his friends laugh everytime they get together and the lonely guy standing on a stage ready to deliver a comedy routine… you probably already know that… what else should you know?
You need to know something about your audience… these aren’t your pals out there! Chances are you’re well aware of that and you’ve probably been hanging around this place where you’re going to do this gig, you’ve been kidding around with the wait staff, you’ve sat down with a drink to catch the mood of the usual crowd…
You can tell a lot about what will or will not go over just by the age of the audience… a joke about Nixon won’t go over well if the audience is under the age of 30… what else should you know?
You better know who your competition is. That means you have to do some research… you can watch guys like Leno and Letterman on TV. You can also go to local comedy clubs so you can watch your immediate competition.
You’ll be in a live laboratory, finding out what goes over and what doesn’t, learning about the kind of material those working standup comedians are using.
You probably already know that not all routines are right for every audience… but how can you tell if some of your risque material might bomb?
If you had an audience of nuns it would be easy of course… but the only way you would know in advance about a regular mixed audience would probably be through the sleuthing you did by mingling as a regular customer and being friendly with the wait staff before you had your gig.
What else do you need to know? Knowing how you look is really important. You need to do your routine in front of a mirror, a lot of standup comedy is nuance… many times a certain look or expression is what makes people laugh… they’ll be waiting for it and you better not change it!
After you’re pleased with your act in front of a mirror and you’re totally comfortable with it, perform it in front of friends and ask them to be honest about your performance… some friends won’t have any trouble doing that!
What else do you need to know? You’re going to need a manager… that’s someone who’ll want to get you gigs so he’ll give you his honest opinion about your performance.
When you find a manager you can trust, you’ll get professional feedback about your performance.
Fran Civile offers a review of a great resource for standup comedy routines including over 100 pages of free material at http://writingforcomedy.blogspot.com/