You think you're funny and you've gathered enough courage to perform on a new talent night. What should you do?
Memorize, memorize, memorize. Memorize your jokes and rehearse them to the best of your ability. Have a visual picture in your head of the jokes you tell and commit them to memory for at least a week - until they roll off your tongue effortlessly.
Maybe you're thinking that you're going to be an off-the-cuff guy or girl. You could be right but that first time on stage will steal your mental reflexes and response time. You will be facing lights and strange faces as they all stare at you and you alone. Most likely, you will feel robbed of your humorous creativity as you know it.
Preparation is the key element. Have something to say and get the words out. All of your jokes are new to the stage that very first time and you need to say the words you have written in front of a real audience to gain a level of confidence to perform them well. Multiple stage appearances will allow you to relax and tell your jokes or stories with feeling and finesse.
Don't be too hard on yourself. Congratulations on conquering a fear that is often only second to death. It does get better and more fun as you get to know your character (what it is about you that people find funny). The joke writing will come easier and the performances more natural.
Sally Edwards is a professional key note speaker, corporate humorist and standup comedienne who began her career studying improvisation at Chicago's Second City. Sally has been featured on Showtime's Comedy Club Network, A&E and NBC TV's Friday Night.