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‘Your offensive material isn’t edgy, it’s offensive’: Professional comedians’ best advice for rookies

Ever wanted to try out comedy? Ever wanted to be scared off doing comedy forever? We asked a few comedians for their tips on doing stand-up comedy for the first time.

“Don’t bother trying hard, because you will just get your period in the finals and lose to someone from Wellington.” – Billy T winner Rose Matafeo

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“No one asked you to do this. You decided to try it. If you have a shit time don’t take it out on the audience, don’t get defensive, just accept that sometimes comedy doesn’t work. It’s okay to fail, and a five minute comedy set you didn’t get paid for is not what you’ll be remembered for.” – Billy T winner Hamish Parkinson

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“Right up there would be don’t jizz on slightly more senior comedians’ photos and then tweet them.

“Also I’d probably say don’t try to mimic other comedians because it comes across like you’re presenting a high school speech. Better to do your own authentic comedy in your own voice and style.”- Amanda Kennedy (one-half of The Fan Brigade)

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“Don’t go on stage drunk. I can name four comics that pull off being drunk on stage and none of them are raw.

“Afterwards though? Throw all your cash at that bar and do body shots off your aunty, see if I care.” – Livi Mitchell (one-half of The Fan Brigade)

Eli Matthewson, left, and The Fan Brigade

“Be prepared, don’t try and just wing it on the night!

“Remember that what ever happens out there, it won’t be as bad as all of the other shit things that’ll happen in your life (like death!) or all the good things that happen (like getting rich!)

“Other people in the green room are the worst and usually the one’s who are the most confident end up being the least funny, so don’t let them psych you out!

“Girls – be funny! Be humble! But be confident! Don’t be too confident though! Be confident enough that the audience trust you! Don’t be so confident that the audience don’t like you! Be just the right about of confident!

“Guys – be whatever you think is funniest!” – Alice Snedden

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“If you want to carve out a career in comedy like me, here’s my tip: Do a full six minutes mainly on dating girls. Then come out literally three weeks later.

“Then grapple with doing that same material about girls for a solid 6+ months. Cover your fears of doing material about your actual real life by doing only jokes about Pokémon for a good year. You’re on your way to a career in comedy!” – Eli Matthewson

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“Everyone dies. Just know you will have good gigs if you stick it out. Every great comic dies. Every bad comic dies. Everyone dies. Also, be nice to people and be prepared for the lows. Your peers will be the ones to soothe a wounded ego.” – Billy T nominee Angella Dravid

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“Know where your punchlines are. Everything else can go terribly, but a decent punchline will always see you through. If you can’t tell where your punchline is, you haven’t got one yet.

Your offensive material isn’t edgy, it’s offensive. If you keep going with comedy you will deeply regret it later. Trust me on this.” – Billy T winner Rhys Mathewson

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“If you take the microphone out of the stand, move the stand.” – our comedy co-editor Natasha Hoyland

Feature image by Hamish Parkinson

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