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5 Ways to Succeed In Comedy

“Sorry I’m late, I got chased by a pack of rabbits on the way here who mistook me for a carrot…”.

Me Attempting Stand-up © Sarma Woolf at Torriano’s

Sadly, this joke no longer works for me as my hair is no longer neon orange and my timing is usually better than that fateful night. My worst gig. That opening joke was my biggest laugh of the night, at least of the intentional jokes I made- I was a joke myself. My technique for the rest of that show, as blank looks appeared, was to retreat into my shell and think about the vast quantities of soul-numbing after-show drinks I would be enjoying.

Here are 5 tips to not go down quite as badly as I did.

1) Not be afraid to be self-deprecating.

I didn’t do this. At the tender age of 17 when I started, I seemed to think my self-esteem should be being boosted from comedy, not ripped away from me violently as I descend into a chasm of self-pity. In hindsight, jokes about my weirdly coloured hair (I’ve enjoyed seven colours in the space of as many months) or perhaps about my quirky fashion sense and love of McFly would have gone down better than trying to justify the things I enjoy. Some comedians even base their entire acts upon their lack of self-esteem, but maybe not Jim Carrey

2) Never make fun of social groups you’re not part of.

If you’re a goth, student, woman, black or from a different country, brilliant! If you’re a female black goth from Turkey who’s a student here, even better! You’ll go down a treat. Jokes about your own social group always go down well, unless you’re not part of one. The golden rule is to never start a joke with “I’m not being racist but…” – It won’t go down well.

3) Puns have to work.

I mean, jokes about German sausages are the wurst. If you try a pun with a weak punchline, then you might as well admit that it’s a pundamentally bad idea, and the pundits won’t enjoy it. Unless you’re Tim Vine.

4) Match the venue to your style.

If you’re offered a gig at a rough venue, a great idea is always to pick on the roughest looking bloke in the front row. It worked for me, I once picked on a man with tattoos and a shaved head who was staring me down in a gig in Chatham, the global hub of culture and intelligence, (which also happens to be my birthplace), and asked him quietly not to kill me. To which he responded in the campest voice known to man “Oh darling, I wouldn’t do that!” getting my set off to a very surreal start.

5) NEVER steal jokes from others.

Unless you hear someone on the train say something really stupid then feel free to steal that. “You’re on o2? I’m on Orange, like the vegetable” was a personal favourite from the tube yesterday.

Don’t steal jokes like this though. 

If you disagree with any of these tips- feel free to comment and suggest your own!