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All you need is 3 minutes

When you hear someone say, “I’m thinking about getting into standup, what should I do?” seasoned comics usually respond by saying something like, “Just get on stage!” That’s if they answer you at all (pro tip: don’t ask a comic that question!)

The annoyance from established comics seems standoffish, but it really is that simple. You just have to get on stage.

But sometimes the fear might not come from actually going up at a mic. It’s easy to shame a dude into going up at a mic by telling him that he is a dorky lil’ biatch if he doesn’t.

The barrier to doing comedy might just be that you have no material. If that is the case, this short little post is for you!

What I wish I told my younger self that wanted to get into comedy but was too afraid is this: it only takes 3 minutes of material to be a comic. That’s it. 3-measly-minutes.

So in reality, there are two steps to becoming a comic:

  1. Prepare 3 minutes of material
  2. Find a stage with an active audience that will listen to you for 3 minutes.

The first item is going to change from person to person. A guy who wants to do standup who lives 2 hours from Reno, NV in the desert is going to have a harder time finding an audience than the guy living in the West Village in New York City. This is something you just can’t control, but if you live in a moderate to a large city, this shouldn’t be a problem.

If this is you, then go online, find an open mic and sign up if you can. What will then most likely happen is that you will have moderate to severe anxiety leading up to that open mic you signed up for. You’ll possibly have heart palpitations at a certain point, and be driven to call your grandmother asking her if you’re doing it right.

Preparing Your 3-minutes

It is quite nerve-racking, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. Because all you really need is 3 minutes of material. It could even be terrible material, but just so long as you have it, you will be fine and survive to even do another mic!

But the question is, how do we get 3 minutes of material? That depends upon the person, but 3 minutes usually consists of 2-4 jokes. Most of the time it is either 3 short bits or 2 short anecdotes. Each of those constitutes a bit.

What do I write about?

For joke writing, pick up this book. It will teach you the basics, and help you understand the structure of a joke. Joke writing and standup can seem impossible at first, but when you dive into it, you can identify joke formulas, behavioral patterns, and ways to deliver material that works and get laughs. For your first 3 minutes of material, select a few joke structures. GOLD comedy sums this up well, but the three I used to start are:

  • Rule of Threes
  • Reversals
  • Metaphors

Make sure that your jokes have an element of surprise. The surprise factor is what brings entertainment to the audience, whether they think it is funny or not.

For material, the way to go is to take comedy from your own life. Everyone’s life has a comedy. I don’t care if you live in Alaska in a town with a population of 3 people, or in the middle of Manhattan. Human beings are tragic creatures, and in tragedy lies many laughs if you know how to look for it. So write about yourself, and use the joke structures and storytelling techniques that have withstood the test of time.

How much do I write?

In order to get to 3 minutes of material, you’ll probably have to write about 3 short jokes, or 2 longer anectode-like jokes. Whatever your jokes may be, they should consist of a set up, a punch line, and hopefully at least 2 tags.

Anecdotes are short stories that you tell, but in my experience, take longer to tell. Anecdotes should be punched up with tags throughout, either making fun of the characters in the story or making a target out of something that happened.

Whichever you choose, you’ll see that both jokes and anecdotes should have a basic structure; set up and punchline, then tag, tag, tag. You can add however many tags as necessary, but just make sure the joke has a punch.

Make sure you get to 3 minutes. The average person speaks at a pace of 130 words per minute. If you are doing it right, you’ll probably take some pauses here and there, so make sure you write about 350 words total for your set.

Widdle it down to that amount of words, and you’ll be ready for the next step at the start of your comedy quest, which would be to….

Get Your @$$ On Stage!

Now you have 3 minutes. Now prepare for your set by telling jokes to your mirror or wall, and make sure you do it 3-5 times.

And Voila! You are prepared for comedy! Time to get up there and tell your jokes! It’s your duty to let the world know what you are thinking, and what you have been writing.

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The Ultimate Formula for Anxiety Reduction

When looking to understand why one gets anxious in certain situations, it is best to start with why we get anxiety.

Anxiety isn’t necessarily bad or good. It is our body’s evolutionary response to an unknown situation. We follow certain cues that lead us to feel angsty due to our programming. A big hooded guy approaching you at 3 am on a shady street signals uncertainty and danger. We can’t help but feel fear, despite the mob of angry Redditors that will persecute you for your racial bias.

But fear not my friends! The anxious amongst us understand that it is a subconscious force we are dealing with, and no shaming tactic will ultimately drive you to fix this.

The truth is that sometimes anxious feelings are further perpetuated by our environment growing up including childhood events. An absent father or mother might cause us to be much more approval seeking, and in a public speaking environment, it can be quite obvious. However, it is human nature to seek approval from the tribe, so we can’t read into these things too deeply. Like all things, it is one part nature, one part nurture. Some people are just naturally anxious. It’s in their DNA. A Woody Allen or a George Costanza had to have some genetic disposition fo neuroses and anxiety, right? Just as some other public figures must have been born with steel-like Dwayne Johnson or Will Smith.

But that doesn’t mean the Rock or The Fresh Prince never feel anxious. They have to. Even if they say they don’t. I wouldn’t believe them for a second.

However you seem to be on the outside, I would go as far to bet that everyone mentioned in the above few paragraphs used to have much more fear prior to any performance when they were starting out than they did when they were 1 year, 5 years or 10 years into their career.

This means that anxiety dissipates over time. Why is this? Do these successful people take hot baths in kalonip soaked jacuzzis?

Whatever the reason may be, I have found a simple formula that will explain how anxiety is reduced.:

Anxiety Reduction Formula :

Anxiety Reduction Rate =
Anxiety Level At Onset of Task/ Number of times experienced Doing Task

The number one way to lower anxiety when facing a difficult task is to face that fear, muster up the courage, and just do it regardless of the consequences. Then, go back again and again, and learn from the things you did wrong.

Here are a few examples of this formula in play.

Example #1: Standup Comedy

Doing your first standup set is one of the most nerve-racking things you could do. I will never forget all of those stone-cold faces staring up at me at my first open mic.

Most comics I know bomb their first time. And then when you get off the stage, it feels terrible. But experienced comics will just tell you to keep doing it, and keep writing. Once you get the writing down, and you’ve been on stage a handful of times, you realize that the crowd doesn’t matter, and you have to just deliver the joke.

So then you start to focus on the delivery. You ask yourself things like…

“Am I taking my time and saying every word?
“Am I rushing through different parts of the joke?”
“Am I sticking the punch line as I should?”

Things start to slow down because you realize that no matter how many times you get on stage, there will always be another opportunity to get up. You understand that nothing detrimental happens to you after you bomb, and you start to actually develop a sense of humor about bombing during a comedy set.

Since it doesn’t actually matter if you bomb, you start to care less. You start to have anxiety cloud your brain, less often, to free up creative energy.

Standup Anxiety Reduction Formula:

Level of Anxiety Doing Standup Comedy =
Base line anxiety level / Number of Similar Sets Done Prior

Example #2: Sales

Anyone that has been in sales knows that sometimes you only get one shot at impressing a prospect that is on the other end of the phone . Or even more nerve-racking, on the other side of a board room, where you are presenting to buyers in person.

But with interactions with human beings like this you can recognize patterns each time amongst a profile or set of profiles. These interactions start to seem eerily similar to one another by like the 10th sales call. Knowing that you will pick up on these patterns in itself can somewhat calm your nerves when getting started in sales. It may suck at first, but just knowing it will get better because you are above average in intelligence can set you at ease.

After the maybe 20 or so sales calls, you can anticipate questions and objections, pitch whatever product you are pitching much more seamlessly while injecting your personality in it, and be confident in the outcome because you’ve been there before. Naturally, you become less anxious, because you know what to expect.

Sometimes it really is just a matter of knowing what to expect. Your 1st time at the Marajuana dispensary can feel kind of weird and naughty, but by the 100th pickup, it seems routine.

If we are 75-99% certain that a sales call will go a certain way, then there is more certainty in the future. And all anxiety really is could be simplified in the uncertainty of what will happen in the immediate future.

Sales Anxiety Reduction Formula:

Level of Anxiety in a Sales Interaction =
Anxiety Level at Beginning of the Call / Number of Sales Calls You’ve run in the past

Example #3: Language Learning

Learning to speak a foreign language interestingly draws many similarities to both sales and standup comedy. It is mostly due to the inability to speak a language, which draws comparisons to using language in a sales context (language that will be compelling enough to persuade a skeptical business prospect) or language in a comedy context (using verbal skills that are funny enough to make an audience laugh and not boo you off stage).

When you first start speaking a foreign language, you have all sorts of anxious thoughts revolving self doubt. One common one is the fear of not sounding stupid. The fact of the matter is, you are going to sound like a 3 year old at best any time you start to speak a foreign language, so this is unaviodable. Another fear would be the fear of offending or saything a wrong word that you didnt mean to say. This is also unavoidable, because many times this is exactly how we learn language even as kids. I remember the first time I heard the word “Fuck”. I was 6 years old, and I heard it on TV. I liked how it sounded, so I ran into the other room that my older brother and Dad were and yelled really loudly, “Fuck! Fuck!”

The only way to reduce this anxiety is to face it head on by having as many interactions and conversations in the foreign language as you can. With each one, you learn to deal with these feelings and focus more on communicating and trying to be understood, rather than seeking the approval of the other person. Some people are helpful, others aren’t. The key is to learn more and more with each interaction, and practice more and more so that you gain pattern recognition. So if someone asks you in Spanish, “Como te va hoy?” the first time, you are dumbfounded. So you go to Google translate, figure out what this means, “How is your day going?”, and respond accordingly next time.

This is only done by interacting in certain contexts as many times as possible. Language is hard, because you can be well versed in Spanish in a business context, but in philosophical discussions, you wouldn’t know how the hell to explain the difference between Stoicism and Libertinism.

So the only thing to do is to put your head forward and put in the reps.

Foreign Language Conversation Anxiety Reduction Formula:

Level of Anxiety in While Speaking a Foreign Language =
Anxiety Level at Onset of Language Learning/ Number of Conversations Had In Said Foreign Language

Putting in the Reps

I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but doing as many repetitions as possible in whatever communication you are looking to improve upon is the best way to reduce your anxiety.

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The 1 Rep per Minute Rule

Whenever you are preparing for doing any sort of public speaking, there are some things you can’t do to control how well you do.

However nervous you might be feeling about your impending speech, the one thing you can do is prepare by practicing.

Which begs the question, “How do I practice?”

A good tactic for preparing for public speaking is just speaking to your wall. Or maybe you have a dog and you want to practice in front of her. Or maybe instead of a dog, you own one of those pet pigs (you weirdo).

Whatever you choose to practice in front of, you are engaging in the most important part of preparing for a speech; preparation.

But how much preparation is enough should we do?

Over the years, I’ve answered this question with a simple rule…

The 1 Rep Per Minute Rule of Public Speaking

My rule is quite simple. For any speech over 5 minutes long, you must practice the speech the number of times the speech is long.

This is a rule I have enforced over the years to make sure I have done the minimum necessary preparation for a speech or presentation.

There are a couple of things that need to be explained for this rule.

  • For speeches anywhere from 0-5 minutes in length, you must do 5 repetitions of the speech.
  • This is assuming you have already written the speech, or written a script for your presentation or demonstration.
  • Interruptions like videos in the middle of the speech do not count.

It’s as simple as that.

Have a 7-minute speech you want to give to your beloved girlfriend before you propose? You better pump that out that speech least 7 times before you get on your one knee in front of her, or face the possibility of bombing and dooming yourself to an eternity of masturbation and watching the bachelor alone!

1 Rep Per Minute Rule FAQs

How do I know how long my speech is before I give it?

If you have written it out, you should go to a word counter on Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or here. Find out approximately how many words are in your speech, story, or presentation. Since the average person speaks about 125 words per minute on the low end. take your word count and divide by 125 to get the length of time.

“If you have an 800 word speech then divide by 125 words per minute to get about 6.4 minutes. That will give you about 7 repetitions of speech practice rounding up.”

-Horus, Greek God of Mathematics

What will happen if I follow this rule?

If your speech is acceptably written, you will at the least not bomb in front of people. This is the least we can hope for because our biggest fear when facing a public speaking scenario is an embarrassment of epic proportions. Our monkey brain tells us that if we make a fool of ourselves in front of the tribe, then even the grossest of the fertile women in the tribe will want nothing to do with us, and the alphas will be ashamed of us. That, my friends, is a formula for permanent exile from the tribe, and subsequent starvation.

Thankfully, it’s 2019 and we probably won’t be shunned and exiled from society if our incest joke bombs. But we sure as hell don’t want to face that embarrassment.

So if you have a 10-minute speech prepared, and you practice it 10 times in front of your wall, the first 2 or 3 times will be painful even if you are alone. Because you will stumble on words, you will not know how to use your tonality right to intentionally convey certain messages, and you will jumble up the order and flow of the presentation.

But by the 4th, 5th, and 6th repetition, you will get a better handle of your speech because you will build muscle memory deep in your brain neurons.

By the 7th repetition, it is now about sharpening the sword and you should be good to go by the 10th. This is what practice does for you, and you’ll sharpen the sword just enough to be dangerous.

What if I don’t have time to practice my speech accordingly?

Well then my friend, I hope you are ready to be shamed for life for embarrassing the tribe! Prepare to be exiled!

We Fall to the Level of Our Preparation

Preparation is everything. The major way to calm the anxious voice in your head is to make sure that you have done the reps. Knowing what to say and when to say it is a matter of saying it over and over. The more practice you get, the more natural you will sound.

The words will come second nature, and then you can worry about the intangible things like making eye contact with each part of the room, smiling at the right time, and using body language to deliver each point more convincingly.

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How to use open mics as a mental gym.

Originally when I started comedy, I had a goal in mind that indirectly led me to do my first mic. I decided to start doing comedy because I wanted to get better at public speaking for my job. And by “get better at”, I mean to say, I wanted to learn how to not shit my pants when public speaking.

So in deciding upon my newfound goal, I started looking at different toastmasters club around the city of Chicago. As I started Googling different toastmasters locations near me, I realized they looked a bit boring for my taste (no offense to toastmasters people).

So I decided to explore some alternative options. I looked into comedy courses and signed up for an affordable and well-respected one almost immediately after. It was a no brainer, I was a big comedy fan, and I idolized certain guys like Bill Burr and George Carlin.

And then I was off on my journey to wrangle my public speaking anxiety through comedy.

The class ended up being a great success and led me to do about 5 or 6 open mics and a show that was put on by the class which went really well. But the pain from the open mics was too much to bear so I put comedy on the back burner for about 2 years.

Fast forward to 2018, and I start doing mics again. After about 10 or so mics I quickly realized a few things that make open mics literally the best gym ever for public speaking practice.

Here are 3 reasons why:

1. Minimal Time Commitment

Starting out I did an open mic per week. From a time commitment standpoint, one open mic can take anywhere from a 30 minute (low-end) to a 2 and a half-hour (VERY high end). So on average 1.25 hours per week. That isn’t too bad.

If you are proactive about emailing the host beforehand to sign up, you’ll get stage time within the first hour. Go, do your set, and watch 3 or 4 comics afterward to support.

If you do the 2 things mentioned in the last paragraph for 3-6 months, then you will probably spend no more than an hour and a half a week, build a small network of comic buddies, and be drastically better at public speaking.

2. You Learn Humor as a Side Effect

The added benefit of this approach rather than a traditional public speaking club or forum is that you learn how to be funnier. Of the Scott Adams holy list of skills to add to your skills stack, humor is probably my favorite. As they say, no one can be angry with a smile on their face.

Not only will you learn to be funnier, but you will also meet funny, not boring people. This is my favorite part of standup. The characters you meet will

3. No One Cares if You Bomb

Most people in business are good at public speaking because they are “naturals” they were thrown into a situation where they had to perform public speaking activities, whether it be their first quarterly sales meeting, speaking at a conference, or presenting something to their team.

If this is how you have gotten good at public speaking, then great. But if you bomb in front of the C Suite on your first try due to nerves, you might want to seek some training.

The great thing about open mics is that they are completely pressure-free. It doesn’t matter at all if you bomb. Amy Schumer is not going to be in the audience. Sebastian Maniscalco is not going to be in the audience. There will be a bunch of up and coming comics, half of which aren’t paying attention, a third of which understand that its okay to bomb, and then maybe the rest that will judge you. This is both terrifying and relieving at the same time.

The point is that it doesn’t matter what you say at your first mic, or your 100th for that matter. It’s just a mic. It’s a workout room. It’s a mental gym It gives you a great place to hone the craft of communicating with a crowd while gaining the benefits of feedback.

How to Get Started

  1. Write 3-5 jokes – The goal here is to get 3-5 minutes of material. You do this by writing about 3-5 jokes. In the beginning, when writing jokes, you can go two ways. The first way would be to tell a funny anecdote that takes anywhere from 1-2 minutes. In that case, you only need about 2 anecdotes that would take up your time on stage.
  2. Find an open mic near you and sign up ASAP – If you live in a metro of a city with a population of over 300k, there should be an open mic within driving distance. Badslava.com and freemics.com are the two places to look. If you can, sign up in advance so that you hold yourself accountable to go.
  3. Rinse and repeat as frequently as possible – The more stage time you get, the more you will feel at ease when you have a speech with high stakes.

And that’s all folks. Pretty simple. Excruciatingly nerve-racking? Yes. But those are just evolutionary impulses that are preventing you from getting up there in front of a bunch of strangers to tell your filthy and disturbing jokes.

Snuff out those thoughts and get to it!

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Deal with nerves like Grant Cardone

Back when I was a snot-filled 13-year-old with an unhealthy obsession for Allen Iverson, we were assigned a project in history class. We had to choose a hero of ours which we had to do a 5-minute presentation. My hip-hop lord and savior, Allen Iverson, was too recent of a figure to cover, so I had to look elsewhere. So because I wanted really badly to show my classmates that I had historical taste in basketball, I chose Oscar Robertson.

If you don’t know who Oscar Robertson is, he was basically the Lebron James of the 1960s. The man used to crap out triple-doubles on command.

Oscar the great – right in the midst of shitting out another triple-double.

So how did I prepare? Along with making a big poster that was required to present, I did all the things that I thought at the time would make me LOOK like I was didn’t know how to prepare for a presentation. Here is a shortlist:

  • I printed out newspaper articles featuring Oscar
  • I begged my dad to buy a cheap Oscar Robertson jersey
  • I downloaded videos of Oscar Robertson’s games (shout out to Limewire!)

All of these things prepared me extremely well for one thing – to bomb horribly in front of my fellow snot-nosed 8th-grade classmates. During the presentation, I proceeded to blurt out a collection of incomprehensible sentences that probably somehow persuaded my classmates to hate the greatest triple-double machine in NBA history, strictly because my presentation about him was making them feel uncomfortable. I stumble dover my words like a 3-year-old toddler attempting to salsa dance. It was embarrassing.

In retrospect, all the way leading up to the presentation I was as nervous as I was when giving it. Did I practice the presentation? Yes, a couple of times. But I still felt uneasy about my confidence in how I would deliver it. I didn’t know what I was going to say for the beginning, middle and end. ANd I knew it but didn’t do anything about it.

I did everything, but the most important thing that my nerves were shouting at me to fix. That was becoming strong in my presentation.

Anxiety guides your Preparation.

One of the more powerful reframes I have learned is from a gentleman named Grant Cardone. Grant is a sales guru, and has many a fortune off of being an expert in conviction, and driving revenue for businesses. One of the things I have heard him repeat is that in sales, you have to deal with your anxieties in a way that makes you a better salesperson.

For example, if you are uneasy about an imminent sales call or a presentation, then whatever you are most nervous about should tell you where you are weak. This is a key indicator of where you should spend your time improving! What a gift! That is direct feedback from mother nature herself, as she is spreading the “you better-improve-here” juices throughout your brain!

Whenever I am extremely anxious about a call, I try to identify the “why” of why I am anxious. When I identify the “why”, it is usually some hole in my presentation or potential objection that might be raised. Just that alone leads me to draft a document or email, and write out a strategy that will strengthen that part of my sales game.

When this happens, I think, “Good. Now I know what work is cut out for me.” Then I put on my cape with a big “M” on it and fly away.

Anxiety signals growth.

Here’s another way you can let anxiety lead you (per our buddy Grant).

If you aren’t feeling ANY anxiety at all before a call, set, etc. then maybe you aren’t pushing yourself enough. At that point, you are just doing the same old, and you have mastered it, and have no anxiety because it comes as second nature to you.

But if you are looking to grow as a communicator, you want to feel a little bit anxious. It means you are going through mental growing pain. You are reaching outside of your perceived capabilities and learning how to communicate or perform something new. Your anxiety tells you that you are shooting for something that is a bit beyond what you think you can do. And that is the only way to grow.

This is prevalent in the corporate world where folks stay in a job forever because it is all they know and are comfortable with. And that is great if you are looking for stability, and you are cashing in hefty paychecks over and over again. But then you’re creative muscle starts to atrophy, and then you start resenting the printer and figuring out ways to destroy it once and for all.

Anxiety Can be Good

Anxiety is often viewed as a bad thing in our society. Its viewed as a disorder and something that needs to be “dealt with”.

But often we aren’t taught how to reframe things in life. Instead of using your anxiety as a tool, many times we look to drugs and mood enhancers to deal with our worried thoughts.

At the end of the day, our anxieties are just telling us to take action. So if you are a 13-year-old, and are feeling anxious about a presentation, do something about it that DIRECTLY affects the outcome. Present to your wall 10 times, then do one more. You will be (literally) 10 times more prepared.

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Something happened the other day that got me to thinking, “When should a comic ignore the advice of another person (with regards to their jokes)? I was sitting at the bar the other day with a friend getting a little slizzed up, and we came across this guy (non-comedian) who had worked with many successful comedians in the past in a different capacity. We’ll call this guy Peter.

Peter was older. How old, I’m not sure, but he had considerable more gray hair than me, and all of my 80’s and 70’s references seemed to land with him. A sure sign of an aging man. Anyway, my friend and I (who is also a comic) were in the midst of talking about some joke she had told on stage. The non-comedian guy butted in and said, “You need to do better than that joke. That joke is hacky and unoriginal.” Advice from someone who had never told a joke on stage.

This guy had been giving us non-solicited advice the whole time. Naturally, my blood started to boil, as this is one of the most annoying things you can hear.

I had actually heard that that particular joke and tag before, and the fact was that it worked.

Why did it work? Because it got laughs.

This is a classic example of why you should take the reaction of any one or two people to a joke with a grain of salt.

Laughs Are The Ultimate Barometer

This is why you never actually know if a joke is successful or not until you tell it to an audience of 20+ people. Your friend, or even worst a stranger, is NOT a good barometer for knowing whether something is funny or not.

There are a number of things going on here:

  • Any one person could have a shitty sense of humor
  • Any one person could not like you, and hence not want to laugh at you.
  • Any one person could be in a bad mood, and hence not laugh

An audience of 1-3 people is not a good sample size. This is why open mics with less than 5 people aren’t a good use of your time. Crowds have a weird way of forming a consciousness of their own when they scale in numbers. An audience of 6 people that like you won’t be nearly as satisfactory and worth performing to as an audience of 20 people that have a mediocre opinion of you. Your job as a standup is to sway them to your liking and make them laugh.

If you can get considerable laughter from a larger sample size then you are doing your job. But if one jackass at a bar doesn’t like your joke that shouldn’t deter you from telling that joke on stage. Our job as a standup comedian is to find out if a joke works in front of a crowd, not in front of individuals.

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Comedy is a beautiful, minimalist art form. All it takes is a mic and a human voice. I don’t know of any other species that do standup, but if kangaroos start doing standup, then I will change that last statement to say all you need is a mic and a kangaroo/human voice.

Because of this, it is as simple as getting up on stage and speaking your mind. Hate it or love it, anyone can do standup if you are near an open mic in your town. Most, if not all the comics at an open mic have day jobs. Even though, some of the greatest standup comedians of all time started before they were legal adults with any responsibility, most great standups start off start going up and telling dick and pussy jokes well after we hit puberty, and have to support ourselves with a day job.

Thus, many comics lead a much too vanilla 9-5 life when they start out.

Over the years, I have seen a recurring pattern with many people that try their hand at comedy. They usually either came from a funny family, or their background has injected a certain amount of “funny” into their DNA. This usually comes from life experiences that are extroverted in nature which molds them into the type of person that has the balls and the social acumen to get on stage in the first place and say some shit

So it got me thinking. What “normal people” careers prepare you well for standup? By normal people career, I mean any type of career that is NOT in the performing arts.

Here are three of them.

1) Sales

Sales is a broad category, so let’s break down what this career path really means and how it would thicken your skin for the stage.

For the purposes of this article, any sales job where which you are contacting strangers in some way shape or form leaves you vulnerable to rejection. This requires that you have to impress a prospect or group of prospects in order to make a sale. If Bob from Accounting at Depressed Workforce Corp. Can tell you to Fuck Off over the phone with no repercussions, the you’ve found the right type of sales! The more in-person interaction, the better. For example, a door to door Tupperware sales person would develop better skills for standup than someone who is only selling over the phone. And a person that is only selling over the phone would be way more prepared than someone that is just sending emails. The more you have to use your voice to convince a customer to buy your stuff, the better the job would be.

There are a couple of reasons why this career path is great for aspiring standups. First of all, if you can last more than a few years in sales and all the rejection and discomfort that it throws at you, then you have proven that you would have the grit to be a standup. Also, if you are really dedicated to sales, you might have cracked open a psychology book or two. The psychological aspect of sales is what makes good salespeople great ones. Figuring out why people buy, what personalities respond to certain types of sales pitches, what emotions that you need to use as anchors in order to motivate the prospect to buy (fear of missing out, reputation protection, aspiration to a promotion, etc.) are great exercises for applying psychology to sales. This is directly applicable to standup, in the sense that comics are constantly thinking about how their audience will react to certain language and vocal tonality. COnstructing a good joke or a story to optimize laughs per minute is similar to constructing a great sales pitch or presentation.

Applicable Skill: Getting a Reaction

In sales, you want the prospect to be engaged and listening intently to you because you have something valuable to say. Standup is no different. Great standups are not only the funniest people in the world, but they also have a message to convey that they care about. Carlin, Chappelle and all of the other great comics were also great thinkers and had strong, relevant opinions on society.

Don’t be preachy in sales, but definitely learn to sound like you believe in the product you are selling. A career in sales will help you hone this mental muscle of creatively conveying the value of a product.

Applicable Skill: Handling Objections <> Dealing with Hecklers

Handling objections in a big thing in sales. An objection is a statement or question from the customer wherein which they present an air of doubt or skepticism as to the value of your product. The better you handle each objection in sales, the higher the chance you will make the sale. The Pareto rule applies here – 20% of the total types of objections will make up 80% of the total objections you receive.

Heckles are similar. Throughout a collection of standup comedy shows, you will get at least a few jackasses in the crowd that will want some sort of attention, and they will shout during a show. It could be as harmless as a “Woooo!”, or it could be someone literally shouting, “You suck! You aren’t funny!” A standup should be prepared for heckles as a salesperson should be prepared to handle objections. The better your preparation, the better the chance you will win the crowd over and perform better.

Preparation for objections is similar to preparation for heckles. Over time, you start to notice certain patterns and hear the same objections/heckles over and over. It is your job as either a salesperson or a standup comedian to know how to handle them in the most optimal way.

2) Recruiting (Head Hunting)

Recruiting is similar in a sense to sales, in that you are getting rejected over and over. In this job market, people change companies much more frequently and it is a recruiter’s job to find these professionals with valuable skills and to convince those people of doing so. This requires a sales mentality, and creativity in your messaging when approaching and working with these professionals.

Although I have never been a recruiter, some of the recruiters I have met over the years have been some of the most charismatic people I know. They are also for some reason, more attractive than normal professionals. You could probably say this for sales professionals as well. These all bode well for standup. Charismatic, attractive people do well on stage.

More importantly, in recruiting you are constantly communicating with people, and gauging their feel. Recruiters have excellent communication skills because of this, which will translate on stage.

Recruiters usually make a decent living and there is usually always demand this type of job, especially in tech. If you find the right recruiting agency in the right job market, you could probably make close to 6 figures out of college. Also like sales, your schedule is a relatively flexible 9-5, which would also allow you to hit at least 1 open mic per day.

Applicable Skill: Qualifying Quickly

One of the things you will have to do as a recruiter is to qualify candidates quickly. This means you will have to understand if something is worth spending time to bring through the candidacy process for your company. Is this the right person with the right experience? Is this person just interviewing for practice? Am I wasting my time?

In standup, you’ll have to do that with jokes as well. Having a healthy skepticism for what jokes you are spending your time on is good. You don’t want to practice a joke that keeps failing for 6 months. That is a waste of your time. The same goes for wasting time on candidates that you know will not be a fit.

3) Teaching

Everybody knows that kids can be shit heads. Many teachers have to deal with these little shit heads on a day to day basis, and it can take time, effort, and a lot of stress to persuade a group of unruly listeners that you have something valuable to say.

Sound familiar?

Standing in front of a group of children that are yelling mean things at you every day will help you to grow a thick skin and handle confrontation. The bad kids in the class are the hecklers of the group. Just like hecklers at a standup comedy show, kids need to be handled in a certain type of way.

Even if you teach good kids, you are public speaking each and every day. Teachers are more comfortable in front of a group of 20+ people. In the beginning stages of comedy, it is tough to build this muscle and really feels unnatural to stand at the center of attention. Teachers are more accustomed to this in general.

Also, teachers schedules are fantastic for standup. If you are efficient with grading papers and planning lessons, your day is done around 4 pm, which is perfect for hitting multiple mics per night. Not to mention, teachers get the summers off. That’s 2.5 months per year where you can throw yourself completely into standup! Not a bad way to spend the summer.

Applicable Skill: Winning over a crowd <> Winning over a classroom

As a teacher, some of your classes are going to be a raucous, trouble making bunch. Especially if they are hormonal teenagers, with all their pent up sexual frustration.

Thus, teachers need to be disciplined in holding their frame. They need to know how to react to students in order to command respect, and then how to deal with kids in the right way. When is it time to remove a student who is blurting out distracting, offensive things in the middle of the class?

This is similar to how comics deal with horrible crowds. As a comic, you’re going to get some hell gigs with some man-children (and some woman-children!) who think attending a comedy show is the appropriate time to get some attention with their disruptive heckles. Preparing for hecklers is similar in this way. You have to know the main heckles, and know how you will handle them in your own creative way. Some audiences should be kicked out of a show, as well. All these things draw similarities to dealing with bratty kids in a classroom.

Applicable Skill: Lesson Planning <> Preparing Bits/Sets

Before you get up on stage, you need to be prepared. Not only do you need to know what jokes you are prepared to tell for your 5-minute, 10-minute or 20-minute set, but you also need to read the room, know what type of audience you are dealing with, and come prepared to make the best of any room.

Teaching is similar to this in the sense that you are preparing in advance what you are going to teach. You have to know what type of class you are dealing with in terms of their learning style, the intelligence of the students, and how they might receive certain assignments or drills within the course you are preparing.

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Contrary to popular belief, it is not excessively expensive to live in the United States. Most people think that you need to spend $30+ per day on food, and your neighborhoods average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment to live a fruitful and meaningful life here in the greatest country on planet Earth.

Well, my man-children, I assure you that those people are wrong.

Not only can you spend less than $2000 per month to live in a solid neighborhood in an expensive city, but you can also engage in certain hobbies that will set you ahead of the pack and expand your earning potential.

I am sure we could name a Gazillion more hobbies that don’t cost a dime and bring you ultimate satisfaction in life. But these are the main ones that I like to engage in when I’m bootstrapping and need to up my savings rate ten-fold.

There are a couple of assumptions I making here.

  1. You live in a major city.
  2. You have transportation to get to most places in your city.

Sound like your life? Good, read on.

Standup Comedy

Standup is quite possibly the oldest art form known to man. Ironically, it is the one that is the silliest and most ridiculous in this country. Crowds gather in groups of anywhere from as little as 50 people in a small, dimly lit room to packed 50,000 person stadiums in South Philadelphia to see a man-child (or woman-child) act completely silly and deliver clever, hilarious, and well-thought-out jokes on stage.

Most, if not all standup comics start at open mics. If you live in a large US city, there is most certainly a mic (short for open mic) near you that you can go, sign up, and act like a jackass on stage for 3-5 minutes. If you are a silly-goose like me, you will be thinking ridiculous and absurd thoughts all day.

If you have ANY interest in trying stand up some day, write those thoughts on a notes app in your phone. At the end of the day, come home. Sit down and formulate your goofy thought into a story, or a joke, that has a Setup and Punchline.

Do that for 30 days. At the end of your 30 days, you should have 30 jokes that you can tell on stage that will each take thirty seconds to a minute to deliver setup and punchline. Guess what though? Most of them, if not all of them, will suck. But who cares? One thing that a man-child doesn’t apologize for is acting like a silly jackass if it makes him happy. Now if you have a healthy level of narcissism, you will believe that at least 5 of those jokes that you created will be funny and make people laugh! Great, you now have a set list!

The next step is to locate your nearest open mic in your local area. There a few sources I use, the main one being the website BadSlava.com. There is also a site called Free Mics for folks in the Northeast. If you are in LA, check out the Comedy Bureau. Go to any of those sites and you will find a comprehensive list of cities and mics within each of those cities in the country.

Find the one that is closest to you that coincides with your schedule.

Go to it. Sign up. Tell those goddamn jokes and report back to us…

….did you do it? Great! You are now a comic.

The beautiful thing about all of this is that cost you no money. You created something. Did you get any laughs? Probably not. Who cares. You are now not only a comic, but an artist. You are creating and producing art, and not consuming Oreos while watching a pointless, yet wildly entertaining documentary series about the sexual promiscuity of Bonobos on your laptop.

This is a great step in your journey to being a true, well rounded, man-child!

Street Basketball

Most team sports are great man-child activities. The great American sport of Football requires you to collaborate with your fellow man, and put each one of your egos aside to work towards a collective goal, which would be the end zone.

Unfortunately, we men-children have gigantic egos, so that is out of the equation.

The great American sport of Hockey requires grit, and skill on the ice. Hockey players are some of the toughest athletes in the world, and the amount of punani that hockey players receive is insurmountable.

However, not all of us men come from the maple syrup kingdom that is Canada, and so not only is it hard to find fellow hockey players, but ice time is extremely hard to come by on a short dime.

Ah, but we have baseball! America’s past time!

snoreswaking up….sorry I fell asleep at the mere thought of sitting through 27 “outs” over in left field with absolutely no human interaction.

That leaves us with one major team sport. Yes! Basketball, or as they call it down in the salsa dancing streets of Latin America, Baloncesto!

Basketball is a perfect sport to engage in for the man-child. It is the ultimate athletic sport, and if you find the right courts, a great place to hone your shit talking as well which we all know is a nice man-child skill to cultivate.

Basketball is the USA’s version of soccer also. Around the world, poor kids play soccer and for many kids one of the only vehicles for them to accelerate out of poverty. Basketball is similar in that sense. All you need is someone else’s ball, and the best players are made in the streets. In any major city, pick up games are going on at public courts.

So find a good court and learn how to ball in your off hours at no cost to you.

Bar Hopping

Probably the most primal instinct in a man-child is to engage with the opposite sex. In this day and age of dating apps and DM’ing girls on Instagram and even Facebook, physically going out and meeting females is a lost art.

Contrary to popular belief (once again) you don’t have to spend a lot of money to be social at bars and clubs. In fact, you can go out and enjoy the local bar scene at the cost of nothing and make people believe you are actually drinking.

Now as with our earlier man-child hobby, stand-up comedy, this isn’t the easiest thing to do for most men. You have to muster up the willpower to get yourself out and talking to strangers.

My suggestion would be to talk to everyone to start. Doesn’t matter if they have a male or female private parts, the goal is to go out every night and talk to at least 5 strangers. Start slow and

Many would also argue that this isn’t a hobby. And they are wrong. Upon a quick Google search of the word “hobby”, this is what we get for a definition:

Now if you are to argue that what I am discussing in this article has nothing to do with a small horse or a pony, then I would have to say, fair-point good sir or madame.

But the first definition accurately describes any of the topics discussed here, including bar hopping to socialize with strangers. It’s fun. You meet all sorts of people and get all sorts of viewpoints on lifestyle and pop-culture within your community. And that is part of what it is about, building community.

In my opinion, community building has become watered down in our digital age. People all over the world are using social media to replace the bonds that they would have created in their community in real life a couple decades ago. And what they find is that it comes up short in what they get back from it. There is an emptiness you feel inside when you spend all night on Facebook or Instagram with no social interaction.

Nothing wrong with social media

Cant replace building a community

A story about moving.

Hiking

Another healthy hobby for the body. Depending on where you live, hiking is a great way to reconnect with nature and do some deep thinking about your life. It is can be either relaxing or rigorous depending upon what you are looking for. Most of the major cities I have been to have hiking trails within an hour of the inner city. For you folks in the sprawling cornfields of the Midwest, a good hiking trail could be a tough thing to find. Or not. I don’t know many people from that part of the country.

But I can speak us city folks. I never used to appreciate hiking until I was in my mid-twenties and I had spent many years living in cities. When you are surrounded by noise and activity for months at a time, it is almost a necessity to get away from the city and out into nature at least 2 times a week. Even here in NYC, there are great hiking trails upstate with about an hour to an hour and a half train ride. It is great to go up there and screw around in nature for a good few hours, throwing around large tree branches and hopping from rock to rock, then come down and drink relaxing sour ale at a place like Beacon Brewery.

Hiking does a number of things for the mind as well. The type of meditative thinking you do on a hike is of the highest quality. I have come to many realizations when I am removed from all the noise that have brought me peace and clarity in my life that I couldn’t imagine coming to with all the distraction that New York City presents.

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