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I Just Finished A Comedy Class, Now What?

Sometimes newer comedians ask me, “I just took a stand-up comedy class and performed in a class show, and I enjoyed my first time ever on stage. What do I do next?”

While my answer is specific to NYC, I think (most of) it will  (mostly) apply to other cities as well.

Keep in mind, these options are not exclusive, meaning you can do more than one of these at the same time:

  • Start doing open mics
  • Take another stand-up comedy class
  • Produce your own show at your local bar/restaurant on a slow night
  • Perform in a “new talent” or “bringer” show where you have to bring x amount of people to perform
  • Perform on someone else’s bar show
  • Start hanging around comedy club bar areas and meet comedians
  • Watch lots of live comedy shows, and maybe become a regular at your favorite one
  • Take an improv or sketch writing class

 

Here’s a more detailed explanation of each:

Start doing open mics

NYC is full of open mics. I think BadSlava.com and FreeMics.com have the most comprehensive listings

Pros: You can talk into a microphone in front of people multiple times every night. You may make comedy friends. You’ll get comfortable with silence.

Cons: At most NYC open mics, the other comedians rarely laugh at your jokes. They’re mostly waiting their turn to go on / thinking about their set and there is usually nobody but other comedians in the audience.

If you do open mics, you’ll find that a lot of the mic response is based on the host’s energy and enthusiasm. If you go to a mic and like it, keep coming back to the same one each week. Eventually, you’ll become a regular there, make friends, and if you occasionally have to get in and out quickly, the host will be more likely to accommodate you once they know you.

Take another stand-up comedy class

Pros: You already took one, so you’ll probably feel like a comedy veteran in the class. Classes are structured and force you to look at/modify/practice your material at least once a week. You also meet other aspiring comedians. Students in a comedy class are more likely to laugh at your jokes than random open mic comedians.

Cons: It’s a safe space. Which is great if you view comedy as a fun hobby. But a safe space alone won’t prepare you for becoming a working comedian, where many shows are terrible and lots of things go wrong.

Produce your own show at your local bar/restaurant on a slow night

If you have a favorite bar or restaurant, and they have a separate backroom, see if they’ll let you do a show there on a slow night.

Pros: It’s your show, so you can do as much time as you want and book whatever comedians you want. You can also “trade spots” where other comedians with shows put you on their show in exchange for them doing your show. You can make a few bucks by charging a ticket fee or passing a bucket.

Cons: It’s a lot of work. And you’re responsible for figuring out a way to generate an audience. And if you want top-level comedians, you’ll probably have to pay them out of your own pocket.

If you have any organizational abilities, I recommend running at least one show. You’ll learn lots.

I’ve written more about producing shows here: The Venue, The Audience, The Comedians and Running the Show

Perform in a “new talent” or “bringer” show where you have to bring x amount of people to perform

Pros: You’re in front of a live audience of real people (aka non-comedians) who will probably laugh. This will feel more rewarding than most open mics.

Cons: Unless you bring X number of guests, you won’t be allowed to perform. Your guests usually have to pay a cover charge and a two-drink minimum. You don’t control the lineup or what other comedians will be on the show. And if you keep doing these shows, you may eventually run out of friends and family that want to see you perform.

Perform on someone else’s bar show

Lots of comedians have their own shows. Maybe you can do one.

Pros: You show up and do comedy.

Cons: Many bar shows are poorly attended. Some are “ambush” situations where the audience is just enjoying their drinks and conversations and doesn’t realize a comedy show is about to start. And there are way more comedians that want to perform in NYC than there is stage time. If you’re brand new,  it’s tough to get on these shows when you don’t know many comedians.

Start hanging around comedy club bar areas and meet comedians

Pros: You’re hanging around comedy. You start making friends. Comedians usually get a discount on booze.

Cons: You’re not performing. So you’re not getting better at the actual thing.

Watch lots of live comedy shows, and maybe become a regular at your favorite one

Pros: If you took a comedy class, you probably like laughing. And seeing lots of shows will make you laugh. You can learn a lot by watching more seasoned comedians, especially if you watch them more than once in a short amount of time. If you’re always at the same venue and eventually befriend the show’s producer, eventually they might let you do a few minutes on stage.

Cons: You’re not performing. If you’re watching the actual show, you’re not meeting as many comedians as you would just by sitting at the bar. Depending on the venue, seeing shows and drinks can add up financially.

Take an improv or sketch writing class

NYC also has improv and sketch writing and sketch performing classes. I’ve done a lot at The PIT and always had a good experience. UCB also does classes.

Pros: You’re using slightly different comedy muscles. Improv indirectly helps you improve at crowd work when doing stand-up. Improv and Sketch are more collaborative than stand-up.

Cons: You have to rely on other people. The scenes you perform are not usually about you, but are instead character and/or plot driven. So if you like talking about yourself it’s the wrong format.

 

I’ve also written these articles that might help:

Types of Shows for Beginners

Types of Spots

2022 Comedy Goals Revisited

On January 1st, 2022 I posted my goals for this year. Since it’s the last day of the year, it’s time to go through them and see how I did. 

Black text is the original goal, grey text are goals not fully in my control and bold text is how I did. 

Stand-Up (4.25 out of 6 accomplished)

  • Write 20 new minutes of “album-worthy” material
    Yes. I wrote more than 20 minutes of new, useable material
  • Record and release my next comedy audio/video special
    Yes. I recorded my next comedy special. The audio is done. The video is in final edits. It will be released March 31, 2023. This counts as complete.
  • Do 300 live performances
    Yes. I performed live 526 times, not counting the game show or virtual comedy
  • Do my gameshow 20+ times (virtual or in-person)
    Sorta. Did the game show 14 times, counting this as .75
  • Perform at 50+ private events (virtual or in-person)
    Sorta. Did 32 private events, counting this as .5
  • Double my TikTok account to 500,000 followers and 20 million likes
    No. Did not come close to doubling my TikTok account. I “only” added 17,000 followers and 1.2 million likes. Which somehow makes it feel like my account is on life support

Writing and Producing (2 out of 4 accomplished)

  • Pitch our various TV projects to at least 5 networks/production companies
    Yes pitched projects to five places
  • Film, edit and release one short film/tv pilot that is at least 8 minutes in length
    No. Did not create any long-form content
  • Write one new script
    No.
  • Create one new, full-fleshed out TV idea (with treatment and sizzle or a script)
    Yes. Created multiple new treatments.

Learning (.5 out of 1 accomplished)

  • Read 12 books
    No. I read six books. Half credit.

Financials (0 out of 1 accomplished)

  • Earn $60,000 of revenue from comedy/entertainment-related endeavors
    No

 

My Top 3 Goals (2.75 out of 3 accomplished)

  • Record and release my next comedy audio/video special Yes
  • Do my gameshow 20+ times (virtual or in-person) 75%
  • Pitch our various TV projects to at least 5 networks/production companies Yes

    Overall notes: I’m pleased to have mostly accomplished my top 3 goals. I accomplished 6.75 out of 12 goals for the year. I fell most short in writing a new script (but did multiple treatments) and not releasing any long-form content (but released a bunch of short form videos). Of what I could control, I accomplished 3.5 out of 6 goals. So while not a perfect year, progress was made and experience was gained.

Ben To Record 5th Comedy Album On September 24

Get your tickets here

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be recording my fifth stand-up comedy album on Saturday, September 24, 2022.

The album is tentatively titled “Geopolitical D*ck Jokes” and will be released by Comedy Dynamics as audio. It will also be filmed as a video special.

My new hour will be recorded in front of a live audience (that means you, please come out!) at The PIT Loft in New York, NY.

There will be two shows – 7pm and 9pm.

Get your tickets here

Use discount code BIGBENCOMEDY to get $5 tickets.

Here’s the official show description:

With over 100 million views on TikTok, stand-up comedian Ben Rosenfeld records his newest comedy special. Come be part of the audience.

Ben’s back with his next comedy special featuring all-new, joyfully dark jokes covering such hilarious topics as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, near-death AirBnBs, his bilingual toddler’s use of language and his wife’s inability to let him sleep in peace.

And of course, every Ben special also has some crowd work and improv with the audience.