I don’t claim to be an expert at standing up much less stand up comedy, however after doing it each night for a while now I have found a few things that have not only helped me improve but have helped others improve as well. Here are 5 things that can help you get better at standup comedy.

Barking is the act of going to a preferably busy area and convincing people to come into your show. The term can also apply to sexual harassment by elderly former game show hosts. But whether you call it “barking” or “promoting” or “begging”, it will force you to try and make people laugh quickly as they pass to hopefully get them in to see you perform, essentially helping you with your crowd work in addition to loosening up before a show. No wonder homeless people are so funny.

Watch Other Comics
There are a lot of talented stand up comedians in the world today. There are also a lot of untalented stand up comedians in the world today. But whether you find yourself at a sold out show or an empty open mic, you should watch comedians of all levels perform in order to help you see what works and what does not work, in addition to gaining the perspective of an audience member. Understanding that point of view will allow you to be more honest with yourself so that you can realize what needs to be done to get better.

Insult Your Friends
My close friends and I constantly insult one another because it’s enjoyable, challenging and funny. Plus my friends think I’m hilarious when I cry. But being a dick to your friends and letting them say horrible things back to you will force you to constantly think of quick retorts and will make you funnier. Or send you to a mental hospital.

I try to write everyday and while most of it is garbage, each day I’ll find a few gems. It is a process that allows you to find good ideas and is as important as anything in helping a comedian open the floodgates for ideas to pour out of. Writing allows you to open up, create and think of things you would not have imagined before. And hopefully a couple of those things are funny.

Get On Stage
This one seems obvious but it’s not as obvious as you think. And the truth is that the best way to improve at standup is by doing standup as much as possible. Perform wherever and whenever you can and you will get better. Or at the very least you’ll get very good at being horrible.

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is a stand up comedian and writer located in Los Angeles, CA

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