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Viki Jackson on stage performing comedy holding a microphone with a pained expression on her face

The 10 Gigs Method

  • by Viki Jackson

Whenever you do a course in something new there's a flurry of excitement but as soon as it finishes that all trails off. There's usually something blocking you from continuing, for example in improv unless one person drives the admin of forming a group and booking rehearsals then nothing really happens. The WhatsApp group falls silent *gasp*!

Improv, clown, sketch, stand up… whatever form of comedy it is, the best way to test out if you want to continue is to get out there and gig.

At the start of this year I completed an intensive in stand up comedy. I found the week both enjoyable and stressful. Standing alone on a stage delivering lines is a whole lot more scary than being in an improv team and making stuff up. When the week finished I was in two minds whether stand up was for me so I came up with a plan to test it out in the wild in multiple different settings. I’ve had a couple of people ask me to share it so here goes…

Viki Jackson on stage performing comedy holding a microphone with a pained expression on her face

The plan 

Whilst I wrote this specifically for stand up, you can take the basis of it for any sort of comedy.

  1. Perform ten stand up gigs using the same set.

    The set can develop as the gigs go but keep the foundation of the same set so the gigs are comparable against things like atmosphere, how you felt performing, energy levels, order in the night etc. It also means you have a chance to perfect your set as you go rather than trying out lots of different stuff. You can learn the lines and concentrate on delivery. 

  2. After each set, give it a rating out of ten.

    Do this on instinct and don't question it. The rating should be the first number that pops into your head and is roughly based on how it felt, if it was fun to perform, if the audience enjoyed you. 

  3. After the gig put the score and any notes in a spreadsheet.

    Notes could include: “I was first on and the room wasn’t warm”, “I was super excited and it went great!”, “I forgot my lines and that threw me” or even “everyone was hilarious and I had the best night of my life”.

Once ten gigs are complete you can look back at the spreadsheet. Have a look at the gigs you enjoyed and the reasons why as well as the ones which were more tricky. By doing this you can get a more holistic view of if you enjoy performing or if you prefer to stay on the audience side of the stage.

If it’s a hell yeah the go forth and rule the world of comedy! Maybe you need another ten to make up your mind, maybe you want to do another course, maybe you need to try out some other nights or find some writing buddies? Or maybe it’s just a no. Whatever the answer you’ll have given it a decent amount of time and different settings to make an informed decision.


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