Comedy is something you can get involved in at any age, and quite a few established stand-ups are continuing to perform well into later life, a trend that is likely to increase. Pat Craig, who has studied and performed since she turned 60, shares her experiences and tips for getting involved.
Laughter is the best medicine but creating and sharing laughter is even better. Enter Stand up Comedy.
Originally an ‘underground’ activity, it’s now mainstream.
Miranda Hart, John Bishop, Michael McIntyre, Kevin Bridges are some of the names you are likely to have heard of. Despite the hype none of them were an overnight success. They’ve worked hard to get to where they are today, exposing themselves to the heckles of the crowd often in grotty pubs and clubs. Without exception, whether you like them or not, you have to acknowledge that they are bright observers of other people’s behaviour who think and riposte fast.
So, if you think you’re funny, and harbour a secret desire for the limelight, how do you start.
Find a Comedy Club or a Pub that has Stand Up sessions. Park your pre conceptions at the door. Don’t expect any allowances for age or any disabilities. The only thing that counts is that you’re funny and can connect with an audience, and you won’t know that until you’ve done your first set. This will usually be between 4 and 6 minutes, time which will either fly past or convince you that the clock has stopped permanently.
Visit a venue before you try to do a turn. Never, ever sit in the front row – you’ll be a target for ribbing. If you think you can get one over on the professionals think again – they are masters at understanding human behavior and will suss your Achilles heel very quickly and work it to their advantage. Park your sensitivities. The language is likely to be blunter than you ever seen on TV. Use humour rather than anger, and if you do find yourself getting angry, leave.
So why do it at all? First, the buzz you get from holding an audience in your hand is unbeatable, even if you only do it once. Second, you ‘ll be accepted for who you are or want to be – your age or any disabilities are irrelevant. You’ll be treated as an equal. There is an unspoken rule in comedy circles that jokes about disability, age, race etc. are only really acceptable if delivered by people to whom they apply.
Whether or not you enjoy the experience, I doubt you’ll regret it. If nothing else there’s a certain cachet about dropping “When I did Stand up” into a conversation.