I have been watching, writing, analyzing and performing stand-up comedy for a long time. I used to do it because I thought I was funny and was sure I would be a star; I actually had a five year plan to perform on the ‘Tonight Show’. With Johnny Carson. That’s how long ago that was!
But something unexpected happened after my five year plan for fame and fortune came and went: I realized all the “hidden” benefits from writing and performing. These include but are not limited to following list.
- HELPS WITH PRESENTATION SKILLS/THINK ON YOUR FEET
I noticed I became much better at communicating at work after I started doing more and more stand-up. Performing stand-up REQUIRES you to get and maintain complete strangers’ attentions. After performing at an open mic a few times, you will be astounded how much easier it is to convey talking points to your co-workers and superiors.
- HELPS WITH OTHER KINDS OF CREATIVITY “CHORES”
To perform stand-up comedy you are expected to prepare your own material for presentation. This rarely happens when you are sitting at a writing desk. Comedy ideas hit you while you’re driving or right as you fall asleep. This type of brain activity is like exercising your biceps: the more you exercise your brain the “better” it performs and becomes larger in terms of what it can produce and retain. Your brain is rarely at rest because you’ve conditioned it to stay active through exercise, it now works on its own in the background, helping you to solve other problems life throws at you: how to approach your boss for a raise or how to get creative “finding” new money for the family budget.
- OPENS YOUR MIND TO IDEAS, COMEDIC AND OTHERWISE, YOU MAY NOT HAVE BEEN AWARE OF
I know this is going to come as a shock but not everyone thinks the same. Stand-up, particularly raw, local open mic stand-up, contains thoughts and ideas, premises and otherworldly situations that, even if you don’t agree with them, open your mind.
- AFFORDABLE LOCAL NIGHTLIFE
I’m in a bar three times a week on average so I take that lifestyle for granted. But most of my friends, who are now entering their 50’s look at me like I have two heads when I tell them how much time I spend in bars. But there is great big world out there that is happening in your local watering hole. Experience and see how the other half lives!
- TIME MANAGEMENT AND GOAL ACTUALIZATION
There’s a saying that goes, “If you want something done right away, ask a busy person to do it.” I find I get more stuff done when I’m busy. This includes errands and chores that are unrelated to comedy or writing. It takes time to be proficient at anything. And time is finite. You’ll have to learn to budget your time to squeeze in another non-essential activity like learning to perform stand-up. That’s a good thing. Not only are you doing more social things, the feeling of accomplishment is addictive. Be careful: after trying stand-up comedy you just might be empowered to jump out of airplanes or lose that last 20 pounds!
Ken Cornell’s Open Mic Survival Course at Colorado Free University is a fun, low pressure opportunity to dip your toe into stand-up comedy. The next 2-week class starts on Monday, November 6.