Five lessons from stand-up comedy school

A couple of months back I did a stand-up comedy course, and made my stand-up debut (and most probably farewell) performance at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. If you missed it, you can see the eight-minute video here .

The main reason I did the program was not to become a professional stand-up comedian, but to learn some skills to improve as a speaker and a trainer. Here are some things I took away:

  1. Be likeable. I was advised to axe a piece about stupid people. Good advice. If the audience can’t connect to you and like you, your message won’t get heard.
  2. Be authentic. The best comedy (and the best speaking) comes from a place of authenticity. Tell the truth.
  3. Make fun of yourself first. In comedy this means making yourself the butt of jokes. In speaking, it means make other people the heroes of your stories, not yourself.
  4. Talk to one person at a time. There are always a few beacons in the room – talk to them when you need some energy. And always talk to one person, not to the room.
  5. Robert, our instructor, said it takes 1,000 gigs to be a great comedian. Not the most inspiring pep talk before gig number one, but a good point. If you want to be a good speaker, speak. If you want to be a good writer, write. If you want to be a good stand-up comedian – do stand-up. Love to hear your thoughts about what we can learn from stand-up comedy – you can leave them below.