Is Stand-up Comedy Competitive?

The True Competition in Stand-Up Comedy

Although there is some level of competition in every form of entertainment…

You might be shocked to find that stand-up comedy is really not nearly as cutthroat as it might first appear to be.

Since there are typically more aspiring comedians competing for stage time during stand-up comedy open mic nights than there are open spots for the performance, I believe that stand-up comedy looks to be extremely competitive on the surface.

And at most comedy open mic nights, there are usually 20–30 spots that are booked.

So if you want to see for yourself just how little competition there really is among comedians anywhere, here’s what you do:

  1. Go to any comedy open mic night armed with a blank piece of paper and the writing utensil of your choice.
  2. As each comedian goes on stage, write down their number in the lineup (#1, #2, etc.).
  3. Then, simply put a check mark by the number representing any comedian in the lineup if they got noteworthy laughs on stage during their performance.

That’s it! And here’s what you will find in most cases:

The vast majority of the new comedians that hit the stage are very poorly prepared to properly deliver a stand-up comedy routine.

There will be some that will try to riff through a 3–5 minute stand-up comedy set. This means they attempt to interact with the audience, usually making fun of the people in the first couple of rows next to the stage. In other words, they have no real act to offer the audience.

It is visible (at least it is to me) that most of the new comedians who do try to deliver an act attempted to “write jokes” in a literary fashion designed for a reader—working only with words and sentences to the exclusion of any sort of expressive communication aspects. How do I know that?

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I know that because the set-ups to the jokes are far, far too long before a punchline is finally delivered. This makes it impossible to generate more than a laugh or two in each minute or two of their act.

Note: Until a comedian can generate an average of 4–6+ solid laughs per performing minute of their stand-up comedy routine, they will never get past the lowest rungs of the stand-up comedy ladder. My online course is the only comedian education resource that shows exactly how to structure stand-up comedy material to do just that.

There will usually only be 3–5 comedians (if that) who are able to generate noteworthy laughs with their stand-up comedy act. And most of those comedians who can actually get some decent laughs will be the more seasoned and experienced comedians.

And I will also say this—those numbers will be consistent at almost every stand-up comedy open mic anywhere in the world.

So if you understand that the comedians who can generate the biggest, most frequent, and consistent laughs will progress the fastest and get the most performing opportunities…

Then you can easily see why I say that there is actually very little competition among comedians in the stand-up comedy marketplace.

I should also mention that for comedians who can develop and deliver a powerful and clean stand-up comedy act and can work in the corporate-type markets that pay handsomely…

There is virtually NO competition. That is because most comedians can only develop and deliver an adult act that can only be performed in the comedy club marketplace.

So is stand-up competitive? Just follow the instructions I have provided in this article and make that determination for yourself.

One Reply to “Is Stand-up Comedy Competitive?”

  1. Thank you for sharing your insights on the competitive nature of stand-up comedy in your recent blog post. Stand-up comedy is indeed a challenging and competitive art form, and your observations shed light on the realities that comedians face in their pursuit of success.

    As you rightly mentioned, the stand-up comedy scene can be highly competitive, with comedians vying for stage time, audience attention, and recognition. This competitiveness can drive comedians to continuously refine their material, delivery, and stage presence in order to stand out and make an impact.

    Your tips on embracing the competitive nature of stand-up comedy, developing a unique voice, and finding ways to differentiate oneself are valuable guidance for aspiring comedians. Navigating the competitive landscape requires resilience, dedication, and a willingness to continuously learn and grow as a performer.

    It’s important to recognize that while competition can be intense, it also fosters a sense of camaraderie and collaboration among comedians. Many comedians find support and inspiration from their peers, and the shared experiences of the comedy community can create a supportive network that uplifts and encourages one another.

    I appreciate your commitment to sharing insights and advice on the art of stand-up comedy. Your guidance can be invaluable for comedians seeking to navigate the competitive landscape and find their own path to success.

    If any readers have insights to share about their experiences in the competitive world of stand-up comedy or have tips for aspiring comedians, I would love to hear from them. Let’s continue to support and celebrate the incredible talents within the comedy community.

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