Opinion: Essential Tips For New Comics By James Woroniecki

James Woroniecki is the Director of the 99 Club, which runs Comedy Clubs across London and has been awarded Best London Club at the Chortle Awards for the last four years running. He has an enviable record of nurturing new talent as well as playing host to some of the biggest names in comedy such as Jack Whitehall and Russell Howard. He has kindly offered to share some of his wisdom: "In my capacity as the UK's most successful multi-award winning comedy promoter I'm often asked to offer advice to new comedians. In such cases I naturally seek insight from the source of all wisdom late 90s dance music, specifically Olive’s classic 'You’re not alone'...

 

“You're not alone....”

There are a huge number of resources available for the aspiring comedian:  Stuart Goldsmith runs an excellent podcast Comedians Comedian, Jo Caulfield has a section on her website entitled Things I've Learned as a Comedian which contains all sorts of excellent advice and there are a number of Facebook groups such as The Comedy Collective.  If you choose to start out by doing a comedy course one perhaps unexpected benefit is that it will provide you with a ready made support network of fellow newbies with whom to trade info on the latest open mic spots and commiserate over tough gigs.  There are some great courses: Logan Murray’s Absolute and Almost Beginners Course is fantastic as is the City Lit course, though there are also some shockers.  Be cautious and do your research before signing up to one.

“Open your mind”

Many new acts fall into the trap of gigging very often, but only at nights with other open mic acts on and getting into an open spot mindset. There is a wealth of comedy material online, so make sure and listen to as much stuff as you can, get out and watch terrific top flight acts perform, and get inspired to push yourself to the next level.  

“It is the distance that makes life a little hard”

If you want to be a professional comic, then prepare to get very used to the inside of motorway service stations in the wee small hours of the night. These long trips criss-crossing the country can be very punishing, particularly in the early stages when you're still trying to hold down a day job.  However they are also hugely rewarding - as a newbie it's great to go to gigs all over the country and see how pro-comics handle the same room you do and the car journeys themselves can also be enormous fun and a great place to pick up tips and advice from old hands.   

“I will not worry for you”

Most comedians feel every onstage death profoundly and let the worry of it eat away at them. Don’t - every great comic has had their share of deaths. Other things that may eat away at you, but aren’t worth worrying about include the fact that another act seems to be doing better than you as every act goes at their own pace or that promoter X happens not to book you as every act has that one promoter they just can’t seem to get “in” with.

“Two Minds That Once Were Close”

As a comic it’d be fun to only need to use the creative side of your brain. However it’s also important to keep yourself organised: be disciplined about time for writing, make sure you keep a notepad with you to jot down those great ideas that pop into your head and may just flitter away again, make sure you chase gigs well in advance so you don’t end up with big gaps in your diary and keep a spreadsheet of gigs that you’ve done and not yet been paid for and when you need to invoice and chase them.

“It's all a matter of time”

Many comics make standup look as easy as if they've just strolled on stage, but in fact this is always the product of years of hard work.  Don't be disheartened if you're not on Live at the Apollo after your first handful of gigs!  Put the hard yards in and perform as often as you can, write as much as you can, tape the gigs and listen back to what worked and what didn’t work. 

 

 

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