It’s a new year and many of us come up with wild plans to change ourselves or the world for the better. Some are more realistic than others, and trying to get into stand-up comedy often feels more like a pipe-dream than something that can actually happen. But what would a not-for-profit, makeshift local comedy website be if it didn’t help you realise your stand-up ambitions. Whether those ambitions are to force yourself to tell a few jokes in front of a couple of Welsh strangers or to rock Live at the Apollo, this article may give you the tips and the confidence to get up there. (Please note, the desired outcome is most likely to be the former rather than the latter).
We’ve got in touch with a couple of the friendly figures in the Cardiff comedy scene to help you make your first steps onstage…
Col Howarth runs Crafty Laughs at the Cambrian Tap, a free comedy night the first Tuesday of the month. He says it’s all about networking:
“Contact promoters and explain that you are starting out, and be honest about how many gigs you have done. There are spots out there for all levels. The South Wales circuit is supportive of new acts and there are a number of promoters who are always willing to give newbies their first spot.
“My night – Crafty Laughs at the Cambrian Tap runs on the first Tuesday of every month and has run since Sept 2015. I’ve had plenty of acts do their first spot with me in front of a supportive and friendly audience, and they have come away feeling like they have been bitten by the bug, and wanting to crack on and get as much stage time as possible.
As well as that, Clint Edwards runs Drones Comedy Club at Chapter Arts Centre twice a month. I did my first spot there and countless others have too.
One of the best things to do would be to join the comedy forums and groups on Facebook as this is where promoters list their events so you can see what’s going on and who to contact. This is where they often advertise free spots too.
If you are willing to travel then join Facebook comedy groups further afield and start noticing what’s going on in the areas you are willing to travel to. If you are a driver then nothing boosts your popularity quite like offering to drive a carload of acts to a gig as this makes life easier for promoters and not a lot of acts drive. A lot of acts often book gigs first and then think about how they are going to get there – and that’s where an act who drives comes in very handy! You can spend time with more experienced acts that way and learn a lot from the car-share experience.
Once into your first gigs the trick is to network and ask for spots from some of the promoters you meet, or to ask how you would go about getting a spot on their night. For some, the fact that you are new is not a problem, whilst for others, depending on the level of the night, they may suggest that you clock up more gigging experience and approach them again further down the line. You soon start to build networks of acts in different geographical regions: the South West, Midlands etc, and suddenly you are gigging all over the country.”
Robin Morgan runs the Buffalo Comedy night, which happens every first Sunday month of the month, but now he’s based in London writing for things like Radio 4’s The Now Show. Lucky sod. He says:
“I watched a lot of comedy before doing my first gig, both as a fan, and while working at the Glee behind the bar. I think I learnt a lot. But watching local comics is a good way to see what is expected, and what works and what doesn’t. Write 5 minutes. Keep perfecting that until it’s near-enough bulletproof. Then a 7. Then a 10. Then a 15. Then a 20.
“And gig loads. And far away. Gig miles are really important. But other than that: don’t listen to advice. Everyone’s different. Watching loads of comedy might not be good for someone else, they could go into it with a fresh mind. So just get up there and do it.”
So there you have it laughter-lovers. “Don’t listen to advice.” And with that, the point of this article vanished into obscurity. Cheers Robin. There’s nowhere to go from here other than up on that stage.
We’ll be posting up a list of regular gigs and open-mic nights soon. Stay tuned to Cardiff Comedy Hub or risk doing the day-job forever.