So you’ve been told that you tell funny stories and you’ve been watching stand up comedy routine bits for years and years now. You’re thinking to yourself, “Hm, maybe I should try it out myself.”

What’s the next step, then? Well, it’s writing your stand-up routine, of course!

Well, you’ve come to the right place! Here are five steps to writing your first stand-up comedy routine:

1. Do your research.

 

Research? Yes, research. You might be wondering what that means. Don’t worry— it’s much easier and more enjoyable than it sounds.

 

In order to begin your journey of becoming a comic, it’s important that you watch and learn by studying other comics and their routines. It’s especially helpful to watch the evolution of big-time comics like Chris Rock or George Carlin in order to see the way in which their comedic style and voice developed and changed over the years.

 

Start frequenting comedy clubs regularly to see how different comedians structure their sets from beginning to end. How many bits do they do? How many stories do they tell? Watch the audience— how often are they laughing? What kind of things do they respond to the most?

 

2. Gather material.

 

If you’re feeling lost in this department, don’t worry. You probably have more sources for material than you realize.

 

We all have our own unique experiences— so you should definitely use those. Like they always say, write what you know. What was your household like growing up? What culture(s) define your identity? What are your values? Think about your background in general, your relationships, etc. Analyze them. Search for the funny moments in them and take note of each one. You never know whether you’ll be able to develop it into a full bit, so keep track of each one in a notebook or word document.

 

3. Write the jokes.

 

Make it a habit to write every single day. Choose one of your ideas and approach it like a story. Find the arc and flesh it out into a bit.

 

-Who are the characters of your story? 

 

-Where and when does the story take place?

 

-What’s the conflict or situation at hand?

 

It’s important that you write a punchline. The punchline is typically a plot twist that veers away from a logical conclusion to the story. Sometimes, it might be the beginning of the joke you uncover. In this case, work backward to the setup. And if it’s a longer bit, include some funny moments in the body joke— to avoid the audience losing focus or interest in the story.

 

Make sure that you’re pushing the envelope. Comedy isn’t about staying within your comfort zone.

 

4. Put together your act.

 

Once you feel that you have enough jokes written for about an hour-long show, choose the ones you’d like to include in a five-minute and ten-minute set. Assemble them in an order that feels natural to you. Avoid cramming in too many jokes consecutively— you do want to leave time for the audience to laugh.

 

Don’t view your act as one that progresses from bit to bit, but as a cohesive whole. Include transitions between each joke to create a flow.

 

5. Write the open and close.

 

Having a good opening is integral to your set. The beginning of your show is the chance to show the audience who you are, whereas your ending is an opportunity for you to tie your act together in a meaningful way.

 

If you’re unsure how to end your set, look to the beginning of the body of your material to find something to reintroduce to create unity.

 

When you think of your set as a narrative, it’ll help you end it in a way that brings it all full circle in a way that satisfies your audience. It’s important to keep in mind that the ending is what your audience remembers the most and walks away with, so make sure that you end with your biggest and most successful bits.