From a first date to talking your way out of prison in Thailand, comedy is a handy dandy tool to have in your bag of life tricks. The fundamentals of comedy -- listening, collaboration, innovative thinking, performance under pressure, making strangers chuckle -- are also surprisingly essential skills for the rest of your life. Because comedy gold often comes in threes, let’s break things down this way:
1. Watch and laugh.
Watch as many comedy shows (live, FunnyOrDie’d or otherwise) as humanly possible. Learn from the masters and find the comedy “genre” (such as stand-up, improv or sketch) that’s a good fit for you:
2. Practice makes funny.
Next: Sign up for a professional comedy course. The Groundlings in Los Angeles, Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, The Second City and Improv Olympic in Chicago are all renowned improv and sketch theaters for a reason. For stand-up, sign up for open-mic nights in a comedy club in your neighborhood. Get on stage any chance you get -- bombing breeds comedy character.
Also, immerse yourself in biographies of your comedy heroes (SNL vets Steve Martin, Tracy Jordan and Jay Mohr all wrote fascinating and deeply funny tales.) Keep a notebook on hand at all times to write down character ideas, one-liners and hilarious premises.
3. Get them giggling on stage.
Keep performing until you work your way into a regular gig. (You can do this through auditions, open-mic nights, classes or founding your own improv group.) Once you build a reliably funny show and fan base, invite local media and casting agents. If you’re outside a major metropolitan area, create sketch, stand-up or character videos to submit to bookers and casting agents. If you strike comedy gold, you’ll get hired to do paying gigs on stage, in commercials, on TV or on the internet.
Remember the old adage: If you build a good joke, they will come.