Meet Avery. She has 8 years experience as a comedian and 7 years experience as a teenager—and she is here to answer your burning questions about comedy, family, romance, school, and the meaning of life (maybe). Got a problem you can’t solve or a goal you need help meeting? Ask Avery by DMing @GOLDComedy or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to do comedy, but I don’t really know what “doing comedy” is. I know there’s standup, improv, and sketch but I’d love to hear more specific details. If you could explain the types of comedy, maybe I could discover which is the right fit for me.
Dear Confused Comic,
Welcome to the world of comedy! We are so happy to have you. Really, comedy can be anything you want it to be—but there’s also some basic structure. This isn’t like Hogwarts houses where you pick one forever and are forced to fight Death Eaters. There’s so, so much to explore here. So allow me to be your sexy Willy Wonka* and lead you on this adventure.
Do you like telling your friends crazy stories? Do you not work well with others? Well, do I have something for you. Standup is all about YOU—aka the star—talking about YOUR personal observations and life experiences. Standup is really one of the only formats where you are your own boss, which is as terrifying as it is exciting. After writing a few jokes, you’ll try them out at a local open mic. Through practice and determination and lots of BOMBING (aka failing) you’ll begin to find your personal style and find your comfy place on stage. I recommend writing jokes, thinking of funny things that have happened to you recently, and trying out these jokes at a mic or in front of your friends. Obvs I also recommend joining the GOLD Comedy Club and taking standup classes there with all sorts of REALLY REALLY NICE and supportive women and non-binary folks. DO NOT BE SCARED TO FAIL.
Do you like relying on a team to help you out? Are you great at accents, characters, and world- building? Do you love being put on the spot? Well, it is my pleasure to introduce you to improv comedy. With one simple suggestion from the audience, you and your homies will make an entire show from NOTHING besides brainpower. Yes, the idea of having to be funny out of nothing is scary, but improv is all about your team. Together you will find funny in anything, come to trust each other, and learn the very helpful rules of improv. If this interests you, try taking an improv class—GOLD offers those, too! Also, your college (if applicable) definitely has an improv club and if not, and I hate to sound like a college admissions person, but you can start one! DON’T BE SCARED TO FAIL.
Do you want to be in a collaborative writers’ room? Does the idea of coming up with characters excite you—but being on the spot terrifies you? Do you love SNL? A Black Lady Sketch Show? Monty Python, even though it had literally no women? Sketch comedy might be for you! Gather your funniest friends and start writing! Come up with crazy characters, situations, and worlds that you get to make up. Improv without the improv! Sketch is very collaborative as well, and with iPhones and YouTube it is easier than ever to share the things you make. Many famous comics started out just making sketches with their friends—so why not you? I suggest pitching ideas to your friends and workshopping together, before making and publishing your sketches. (And yes, GOLD offers sketch comedy too!) DON’T BE SCARED TO FAIL.
I’ve outlined the three most basic types of comedy for you, but as I said before, there is so, so much more out there. If full standup bits seem too much, get Twitter and share your funny thoughts with the world in 280 characters. Long sketches scary? Make small bits on TikTok. My biggest advice for you is to try everything—write write write and throw shit out there and see what sticks. You absolutely rock and I can’t wait to see what you create. Check all of the amazing resources GOLD has for more info on comedy and awesome people to collaborate with. I love them!
And remember, DON’T BE SCARED TO … you know. In comedy—as in, I don’t know, learning to juggle while on a unicycle, which I guess is another kind of comedy—if you’re not failing, you’re not trying.
See you out there!
*(I know he’s not from Harry Potter)