Top ten tips for new performers

Top ten tips for new performers

So, you want to get up on that stage and make people laugh. But where do you start?

Have a gander at our top tips for new performers, helping you get a start on that stage!


Nothing can take the place of experience. It’s ‘learn-by-doing’ art form, and you won’t know what works until you are on stage in front of an audience. The more chances you have to perform, the more you’ll learn. If you are a newcomer, practice in front of the mirror, your friends and family (including the dog).

Finding your material

Mine your own personal experience. Find your funny stories and embellish them, play with them. They will be human stories that people can relate to. Even if you have a story about aliens- these aliens will have human-like foibles. Aim to structure a 3 minute set with a beginning, middle and end. This can be one whole story with some tangents or 2 or 3 subjects. Try to put 3 laughs per minute.

Carry a notebook with you

Inspiration can strike at any moment so always have a method to hand of writing those gems down. Before you know it those ideas can be turned into an act.

Fear is a powerful motivator

In the beginning you are not going to get laughs every time, but you will quickly learn how you react. You will see that you don’t die and recovery is possible. The experience may be unpleasant but if you’ve been brave enough to get on that stage it will give you an enjoyable rush and encourage you to work harder for next time.

Always room for improvement

Once you have your set written, try it out then return to it. It can always be punched up with more gags and punch-lines, but don’t obsess over it too much: if you over-evaluate, you may lose a sense of spontaneity.

Don’t steal

Don’t steal. It’s just not cool (see number 10)

Stick to your time

Always try to stick to your allocated time (5 minutes in the Awards). That goes for over and under. It’s unprofessional and can lead to a bad habit later down the line, and affect the freshness and spontaneity of your act.

Watch live comedy

If you can’t get out to see live comedy, watch it on TV or online. You can learn something from every comedian. Carefully study the ones you like and learn from the mistakes of the ones you don’t. Comedy is a community. You’ll find a wealth of tips, comments on the huge number of comedy and social media websites.

Keep the audience onside

Just because you’ve seen other comics insult their audience doesn’t mean you should. At least not in the beginning. It may be tempting, particularly if someone is heckling you. You should (of course) respond, but watch how far you take it. You want most of them on your side.

Be yourself

Watch live comedy but don’t imitate (unless you are an impressionist). You are the original ingredient in your act. Emphasize, exaggerate, adopt a persona, create a character if you like but be true to yourself.