Tips on getting started in stand-up comedy as a student
- Kirstyn Smith
- 6 September 2013
New material nights and comedy competitions to get your stand-up comedy started
Are you hilarious? Or, at the very least, can you make your best mate snigger after a couple of pints? University is a great place to flex your comic muscles. Try these five tips to get cracking
The irresistible pull of a dim, dank pub. The comedy basement’s starkly lit stage. Sounds decadently romantic, right? Every night, up and down the country, comedy is happening. The good news is that it isn’t as hard to get in on the action as you’d think. If you’re eager to channel some of those class-clown leanings into something more structured during university, here’s how you could begin.
Most universities have a sneaky habit of enticing students away from all that hard work with a selection of societies, so drop past the Freshers’ Fair to see what’s up. Edinburgh Uni’s stand-up and sketch group, the Edinburgh Revue, works all year round towards preparing their best funny bits for a Fringe show. Glasgow dwellers would do well to check out Glasgow Laughter and Sketch Society (GLASS). At St Andrews, polish your skills with the Schtick People’s comedy workshops, before trying out for their elite stand-up troupe, the Aristocrats. If you’re Aberdeen-bound, keep an eye out for AUSA Comedy Society, who promise to prise the funny from you, or give you directing and stage design duties. And if you can’t find a comedy soc at your uni, you know what you have to do: start one yourself.
Know your art
In comedy, as in war: know your enemy. Or at least have a handle on what you need to do to survive. Most cities have a wealth of comedy nights (many cheap or free) for you to explore different styles, learn what audiences enjoy and what will leave you dying on your arse. The Beehive Comedy Club at Edinburgh’s Beehive Inn runs three nights a week at student-friendly prices. Glasgow gets in on the action with its weekly free Pop-Up Comedy at the Halt Bar and the State Bar’s comedy nights, plus The Stand’s regular Improv Wars for those who are looking to go fast and loose.
Don’t be afraid to go further afield
Outside the central belt the choices are no less varied, with Edinburgh and Glasgow-based stalwarts regularly touting their wares further north. Breakneck Comedy Club services an ever-increasing number of Aberdeen venues, while the monthly Just Laugh nights keep Perth, Stirling and Dundee sated. And though the Edinburgh Fringe may be the grandaddy of comedy-related festivals, there are more and more popping up: this year in Inverness, Happyness bagged the likes of Russell Kane, Alan Davies and Dylan Moran, while David Baddiel and Omid Djalili showed up for Funny in Falkirk.
Have a go
New act / new material nights are the next logical step to test your comedy mettle. Red Raw at the Stand (Edinburgh and Glasgow) exists to gently coax your comedy talents onto the stage, while the Beehive Inn’s Thursday Notebook is a weekly night for first-timers. In Glasgow, New Material Night at Vespbar is similarly encouraging (note: we can’t guarantee audiences will be as supportive). Then there’s the Bright Club nights across Scotland where university lecturers and tutors turn their professional misadventures into stand-up gold.
Put your money where your mouth is
Of course, the difference between performing one time at university and even beginning to crack the tough nut that is the comedy circuit is vast and seemingly insurmountable. Once you’ve honed your skills, the tried and tested route is to check out competitions aimed at up-and-comers. The Laughing Horse New Act of the Year Award was won by Greg Davies (on his fourth ever gig) and Russell Kane; previous victors of the Chortle Student Comedian of the Year include Joe Lycett and Lloyd Langford; and So You Think You’re Funny, for emerging talent, kickstarted the careers of Dylan Moran, Peter Kay and Rhona Cameron.