What happens when you actively take yourself out of your hectic comfort zone? Stylist’s Jasmine Roberts challenged herself to learn stand-up comedy in a week and learned more than how to make people laugh…
Think of the most terrifying social situation you could possibly be in. Then double it. Then put it on a stage with an expectant crowd staring at you.
You’ve got yourself your first ever stand-up comedy gig.
That’s exactly what I signed up to when I was challenged to, well, challenge myself.
So with the biggest test I could give myself booked in, this is what I learned when I tried something completely new for a week and tried to master the skill of making people laugh.
1. Thinking is overrated
This year I have a new ethos: ‘Don’t think just do’.
Having said that, when I did take time to internalise what I was doing and register it I freaked out - I began to think ‘What the hell did I sign up to?’
But, not being one to quit, the commitment was what I started focusing on instead.
I realised that once you learn the foundations of what you want to do and practice it becomes a whole lot easier to actually execute it.
You then don’t have to think about it all that much because you know you can do it and have the confidence to do so. And then the doubt is no longer an issue.
2. There's never enough time
To do stand-up comedy you need to do research, you need to take time and you need to repeat it, repeatedly.
I work a 9-5 so it was hard balancing that time and I had to make some sacrifices. I stopped going out that week, spent lunchtimes researching and watched videos on my commute.
As with most things, you never think you have any time until you make time for them. I learned to stop letting the time I have dictate what I do with it.
3. Mentors are a fountain of wisdom
I learned so much from my comedy mentor Sofie Hagen.
She taught me some great comedy techniques like callback references, which is when you repeat the joke a few times to give it weight and context.
I also learnt a lot about stage presence. It’s little things like making sure that you move the mic stand to side so that people focus on you.
Sofie made me see that comedy is about doing it for yourself not other people. Self-love may be a buzzword, but what she taught me made me feel more comfortable in my skin.
The experience made me feel like I have other people out there supporting me and I have allies around me. Trying new things gives you a lot more confidence in yourself, but it also gives you more confidence in others.
4. Having fun with it is key
If you’re choosing to put your time and effort into learning a new skill, the best thing is to choose something you can have fun with.
As long as the process is enjoyable, the outcome doesn’t matter. My friend said that when I got on stage my arms were flying everywhere.
I felt so nervous but when I heard the first laugh I was like ‘You know what, you’ve got this.’
Remembering to have fun with it made the whole thing flow a lot better and afterwards I felt like I was meant to be there.
5. Representation matters
Before this challenge I hadn’t seen any stand up comedy in a long time.
When I was googling my top comedians, I realised they’re all men and I guess that’s what fed into the feeling that stand-up comedy is not really for me.
Seeing more space for women and connecting with comics who are women (including women of colour) is what encouraged me to keep going in this challenge.
Representation is so key and the saying ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ is absolutely true.
By seeing other women thrive on stage, it made me realise the significant impact it has and I hope that people around me who saw me take on this challenge are equally inspired.
If I can get an IRL lol on stage, so can anyone.
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