First off I’m well aware of that you are part of the community that holds the key for the future of Stand-up Comedy in our country – which means I’m well aware that someday we are the people who will be returning our collective Awards (read Corporate show Payment cheques, in the absence of Sahitya Awards) if something bad were to happen to our Art, or our kindred Artists!
- Stop calling yourself Open-Micers, as if its a Waiting room where all of you are huddling, to one day become Standup Comics, and awaiting some divine sanction or door opening to be let into more hallowed portals. You are Standup Comics already – if you have written, suffered feedback, made mistakes, bombed Live and are still at it! The door is already open – you opened it for yourself, and you are already In!
- Now that you are In, please take it f*&%ing Seriously! Its a craft and its one that seeks connection – it requires your Rigor and your imagination – it requires your Love, Pain and Hope to be put on the line… Give it all you got, into every minute of Stage time you win for yourself – and yes every minute of Stage time is Won, not gifted or doled out in largesse. Its Won and therefore meant to be treasured.
- Don’t come in without Prep – don’t Wing it – don’t compromise on the painstaking ritual of 3 years of living, 3 hours of reflective thought, 3 hours of edit, 3 hours of rehearsal which leads to that 3 minutes of Performance, in the name of Swag! Don’t reward yourself Swag – Swag is earned when your effort pays off and you can then go back home smiling like a happy Fat Cat!
- Every set that you do – build a quotient of memorability – a set of Setups and Punches that leaves the audience remembering something about you distinctly – identify that uniqueness in your voice (metaphysical :)) – and that comes from who you are, or have come to be! Today amongst 200 Open Mic-ers in this country and the line getting longer still every day, you should want to stand out – not as the best or the biggest or the punchiest or the most killing – but just as being Uniquely You!
- Discard the generic joke – no matter if you came up with it yourself – because another avatar of it is likely to be floating as a Whatsapp fwd or Email joke or Internet Meme -this Joke will reward you at the Open Mic, but the audience will not remember Who cracked it! They will remember the joke, and even some deluded audiences will walk away thinking they came up with it themselves later… which is probably how You came upon this joke yourself! Its not your fault – its just a sticky joke!
- Don’t read out your material, or carry a paper along as Guide book – it makes it tedious for the audience to think that you are reading out of a Laundry list that you must get rid of onto them – memorise it- its only 5 minutes… start strengthening those muscles – you’ll need those muscles a lot more in the future when you have 3 hours of material and a 25 minute hostile anonymous Corporate audience to crack! We come from the land of Mugging Text books – if you got here you surely did your rounds of it!
- Be hungry for stage time – more Stage time will lead to more material automatically – not the other way around at this stage. Be hungry and gluttonous for all kinds of Stage time. That office you work in has Guinea Pigs called Colleagues watching Youtube Videos all day at office – give them your Live Act, near the Water Cooler! Soap box it! Don’t depend on the Comedy Clubs and Organized Open Mics alone – you need to find out Your are Funny, the world will anyway find out after… never the other way round!
- Respect each other – because half the learning comes from doing, and the other half comes from Listening to the others as they are doing – i personally have learnt as much from listening to the different Comics of my fraternity, as i have from my own journey. I have learnt the most from “Open Mic-ers” doing Open Mics.
- Dont bitch – it robs you off your creative spirit – even if you think it doesn’t, it does! We are a fraternity – you need not love each other – but respect the craft and hence those who practise it. Its a Fraternity! Be generous when you can :)
- Dont binge watch one comic too much – this is the formative phase and you may morph into them – watch all comics – so that you learn from them all, and their mistakes, and yet not become any one of them- but rather an Eton Mess of them all- namely You!
- Im humbly aware that you guys today fight a different tough battle than me and my generation who started 5 years or so back! In my starting phase we could give ourselves longer stage time – since we weren’t sharing it so much – coz we had no one to share it with. Today you are being judged by under 5 minutes – and i humbly submit, i would have failed in that game! You guys are having it tougher :)
Having said that, you are Here – and I hope you Kill it and Crack it and DEEEStroy or whatever these fuckall terms we come up with to describe ‘I did somewhat well!!’
Facebook – Karthik Kumar Standup Comic
Twitter – @evamkarthik