Open Mics & Building New Material

Someone asked how often they should do a joke before dropping in and moving on as they said they were bored with their material.

How many times did the Eagles play Hotel California? IMHO, you have to keep polishing your set all the time and keep adding to it. Make it a killer 5, then 10 and so on. Don't worry about others mouthing your lines, they are not your problem or concern as you're trying to build your set so you can go out, get paid to kill. Polish, add new bits, polish add and grow but in all honesty, you have to have a set that will get you work, keep you getting work. I recently offered a guest set to a new comic as I had seen their set and thought that's ready. They came in, did an entirely different set and BOMBED! They were trying to show me new material and how clever and prolific they were treating the stage as an open mic...I didn't bring them in to do new material, I wanted the set they polished at the open mics because it was ready...

Don't worry about the other comics in the back of the room. You're building a set to get you on a professional stage, not make the others comics laugh, impress them. Pros get paid to perform their best material and you need to tighten, edit and repeat so you can do your set under any condition, anywhere/anytime and kill with it. The biggest mistake I see or hear with new comics is that they don't "know" their material and it looks as if they're trying to remember their jokes or "reaching" for their next line. As you edit, tighten and grow the material, subtleties change so it's still not memorized so it appears amateurish. Great comedy looks conversational and off the top of your head but it's fine tuned, edited, memorized then performed as if it's just chatting with your friends.

Here's the dilemma: How often are you onstage and does your joke get a solid laugh 99% of the time? 3-5 times a week? Do you have 20 minutes of jokes that get solid laughs 99% of the time? If the answer is yes, then you should be moving on to professional stages. Open mic stages are a place to fail, work on your material, edit and tighten up your set, do it over and over again so you can take it to the paid rooms...

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