I guess I’m a fanatic about preparation. When I take a comedy gig, the first thing I do after I put it on my calendar is schedule clusters of hours for writing, planning my set list, and rehearsing.
First, I take all my material that I want to use (or could use) and put it in a set list on the computer. It takes time to put things in an order that makes sense and that I’ll be able to remember. Proper standup has to be original AND memorized.
I write out word for word every new joke and just the trigger words for the jokes I’ve told a bzillion times. Once I get it just the way I want it, then it is time to hit the road.
I have some favorite places to rehearse. I’ll list them in order of the most effective places:
Starbucks on the outside sofa with my computer on my lap
I speak quietly to myself just learning the order of the set.
This is good because you have to concentrate over the loud music.
My bedroom with the doors closed
This is only when the weather doesn’t allow outside rehearsal or during the dark hours. This is usually when I’m trying to time out the whole act, bit by bit. I’m using the timer and still making notes.
Outside in the swing
A great place to perform out loud and enjoy the fresh air. When it’s dark and the weather is good, I walk around the driveway. I’ve printed out my set list, but I try not to look at it.
Walking, walking, walking
My favorite, most refreshing, and most effective practice is done on a brisk walk to Starbucks. It is 2.2 miles one way. At Starbucks, I stop, go to the restroom, eat some oatmeal, and walk back. It has been scientifically proven (I think) that when you are trying to learn something, if you do something physical at the same time, the words are learned more quickly and thoroughly. Walking also gives me an opportunity to speak out loud, gesticulate, and test the sound of my delivery. Yes, passersby think I’m nuts, but I carry a piece of paper and they should figure out I’m trying to learn something. Nowadays, there are plenty of people with Bluetooth ear buds talking to the air, so why not me?
I was asked to do a performance for a singles group and I really didn’t have much for singles. So I wrote 12 pages of new material that I thought would be entertaining to singles. One day I walked 8.5 miles rehearsing and hardly noticed. Another time I hadn’t performed for a couple of months and I committed to walk 50 miles in 12 days rehearsing for a show. It paid off. I lost a couple of pounds and had the act down pat.