The Truth Behind Stand-up Comedy

Stand-Up comedy is one of the things almost everyone, at one point, has a phase for. This article is about the frustrating process (and the people) involved.

I actually happen to be a stand-up comedian in the Atlanta area. What made me want to become a stand-up comedian? Well, stand-up comedy of course. I watched stand-up comedy for the first time when I was 4 years old. It was Ron White, a comedy not suitable for a 4-year-old. But I loved it. So, right then, I decided I wanted to become a stand-up comedian.

Comedy is something that no sane person chooses to want to do. We are born for it. The people who do it are truly irrational. Getting up in front of strangers to try to make them laugh? It's hard enough trying to make your friends or co-workers laugh, but complete strangers who don't know you and don't care what you have to say? Who would do that? I would. It is stressful, but I love it.

And I want to clear something up: there is a lot in the media about how comedians are secretly sad or all comedians are depressed, and, while some of that is true about some comedians I know, the truth is this: comedians are optimists. Every comedian, right before they go on and they've seen every single one of their friends (some of them much better comedians than themselves) do terribly and bomb, will think to themselves "Yeah, but I got this." And they will bomb. This is a universal truth.

Comedians also think too much about what audiences think. An audience, when hearing comedy, only has to listen and think about how the jokes make themselves feel. However, a comedian, at all times, has to think about how the jokes make themselves and the audience feel. Really, the audience is lucky they weren't born comedians. It's a lot of stress.

Every time a comedian tells a new joke on stage it is akin to introducing their significant other to their family. And the response the audience gives is telling the comedian whether they approve of their choice or not. So, if you think about it, every time a comedian gets on stage it's like Thanksgiving. You can imagine the stress.

"But what about offensive comedians? They don't think about what they say on stage." I can tell you, wholeheartedly: they do. They deeply care about what people think. Ricky Gervais, a comedian known for his offensive monologues at The Golden Globes, has said that any time someone says they were hurt by his jokes it devastates him.

Comedians are weird people to tell jokes they know people may not like. Everyone has those moments where they think of a joke that they shouldn't say. Comedians are the people who still say the joke because saying the joke is more important. An apology can be made at any time, but the perfect timing for the perfect joke is fleeting.

The biggest struggle me and my comedian friends face is ourselves. We place limits on ourselves. We narrow our vision too much, focusing on only one path; like a horse at a race track, we place blinders on ourselves and think there's only one way to get to the finish: follow the track. When, in fact, the nature of comedy allows comedians to explore every angle and direction.

I truly love this medium. But I fear it. Comedy is one of the vaguest and ethereal things. It's like trying to wrestle the wind. Or it's like trying to balance plates of fine china on top of a yoga ball. It's a high-wire act. Any misstep could be the end, but the feat of accomplishment is so alluring that I feel drawn to it. It's akin to Gatsby staring at the green light; it is desirable but it feels like it could also be the end of myself.

Marc Maron, in his comedy special Thinky Pain, said that he writes all of his jokes on napkins and loose paper because he sporadically thinks of a joke and must write it down immediately before it is gone. That is the epitome of the mind of a comedian. And now you know why it is even harder for a comedian to do what they do.

Realizing that the people who do this are people who think sporadically and take random, unconnected thoughts from moments in their life, try to make a cohesive chunk of entertainment, and present all of it while looking like they thought of all of this only moments before is one of the greatest ironies of them all. And that is comedy at it's finest.

God damn I'm hilarious. I'm also getting pretty ripped. Like, whatever room you're currently in...I'm pretty sure I...yeah I could take everyone in there.

No Saves yet. Share it with your friends.

Write Your Diary

Get Free Access To Our Publishing Resources

Independent creators, thought-leaders, experts and individuals with unique perspectives use our free publishing tools to express themselves and create new ideas.