Trying stand-up for the first time can be as intimidating as that awkward date in college where you invited Dani over for some parmesan tortellini because you saw some video recipe in Facebook and thought “I can definitely do this” but then had to watch in horror how she pushed away her plate blaming her lack of appetite on some afternoon french fries when you knew -yes, you both knew- that it was because you had some kind of grasp of the differences between basil and cilantro but were too assertive to go out and get some basic groceries, ruining the vibe of the Tori Amos album you had so carefully selected (is that what college students listen to? I have no idea).
Anyway, kind of intimidating like that.
Truth is you jumped the gun because you were too confident of your abilities, which in itself is a good thing, but you didn’t have the required list of ingredients. Yes, there’s not much to the recipe of stand up (a raw stage and a baked audience, mix well), but you still need to get out there and make sure you have all you need. If you do, the rest is just a piece of cake (get it?).
Stand-up shopping list
- Microphone: Let’s start with the basics. Hopefully the venue will provide you with one, but get your own because you don’t know when you’ll want to drop it. Although technically any voice mic would work, a standard, black, penis shaped mic is strongly recommended. Use classic retro microphones for promotional posters or tattoos only.
- Mic stand: As basic as the microphone, the vertical line of a mic stand represents the border between the United Stages of Hahaland, your heavily armed nation, and Audienztan. And you must kill. Move it to the side if you want direct hits, or keep it in front of you as a shield, if you’re more used to playing defense. Also, remember that the mic stand is the launching vessel into the land of impressions. Face it, turn your head away, and come back as another. Mic stands should be light enough to be picked up without problems, but heavy enough to hold the weight of your fully extended arm. Adjusting the height of the mic is the first thing the audience will notice. The pros will tell you that a carefully crafted technique takes years to accomplish, so practice (if your whole angle is depression, use the adjustment bar constantly). Under hyperbolic situations, the mic stand can also function as a giant phallus.
- A plastic bottle of water: This just says “I’m a pro”–crystal clear. A swig of water alleviates the stress and tension your vocal cords will naturally experience halfway through a hardcore three minute set. Some comedians prefer a beer bottle, but they’re drunks so don’t listen to them. Water will keep your funny juices flowing. Besides, a twist cap becomes useful when you need to whip your bottle as a flailing penis (crack it open a little bit for some dripping if desired).
- A notebook: Some comedians use them to write jokes or to organize their sets, but a notebook is really like a business card. And like a business man, you need to make sure your card represents you and your product correctly. Get a Moleskine or any other so called “writing journals” from Barnes & Noble if you are into the “I’m an artist and comedy is my color palette” market. Conversely, if you’re active in the “no-money-to-buy-weed” trade you just need to get a cheap spiral bound, college ruled, 8.5×11 inch notebook. Any other notebook in between is as useless as Blockbuster stocks because it will confuse everyone, so don’t even bother. Also remember that just like a sheriff’s star, your notebook will give you jurisdiction over the wild land of comedy clubs, so make sure others see you using it between people’s sets, at the bar area, or even right before your show. You don’t need to write anything important really, just jottings, scratches, scrawls, scribbles and doodles. Once in a while bring it with you on stage, so that the audience also knows you’re in the joke-telling business… And business is good.
- A pen: Although you’ll use one, you don’t need to buy one! Just grab some from the staff at the club, from the bartenders, or from fellow comedians. Usually you’ll get to keep them, but leave them at your house the next day. That way you are guaranteed comedy-peer social interaction and everyone will love you. Click click!
- Weed: Can you imagine a comedian who doesn’t smoke weed? Well, let me tell you right now, they do exist, and you could be one of them if you want to. Now you don’t have to smoke it, but pretending to possess some is absolutely necessary. If you tell weed jokes without carrying the product, don’t worry, no one can smell the truth behind the smoke curtain. But more importantly, if you want to get involved with your local comedy assembly take into account that all main meetings are scheduled outside behind the dumpsters, where marijuana is served as the official hors d’oeuvre.
- Basil: Well, if you’re out and about getting all of these things, why wouldn’t you get some basil to give that parmesan tortellini another try? If you’ve done your shopping right I’m sure your comedy will be as pre-heated as the oven. And all you need to do, just like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is wonder if the audience can smell what you’re cooking. Guess what: they can, and they just got the munchies.