“IF THERE’S one thing I’ve learnt since transforming into my desi alter ego aunty Shagufta on YouTube and hitting the open mic scene, as a stand up comic, it’s that the mind, body and soul have to be primed to be funny. Whether you fancy yourself as a stand-up or prefer to be a writer, you enter into a long-term relationship needing constant attention. At times, it will feel like being in a one-way relationship, where your humour sometimes plays hard to get. In the end, when your joke is finally born, it will all be worth it.”
Find trendy pyjamas: There’s nothing like an early morning walk to clear away cobwebs in the mind from the day before. But here’s a fun fact: those cobwebs about a certain someone forgetting to put the bin out can become your next joke. So be open-minded. I often find that any jokes that are a work in progress often take shape or seem to find better direction when I’m ‘walking’ them out. Walking early in the morning is easy as long as you invest in pyjamas that look trendy both in bed and outdoors.
Freestyle writing: Write for 15 minutes about anything and everything. Whatever takes your fancy! Or who you fancy! Just jot it down, but never freestyle with the intention of trying to crack jokes or finding the funny at the moment. That will give you writer’s block, and defeat the object of finding your own rhythm and style of humour by accident. But remember to never go back and edit your free-flowing words. You’ll become more creative with your expressions as time passes by. This should excite you to jump right in.
Netflix but don’t chill: There’s a multitude of hilarious comedy specials on Netflix (#notsponsored) on a weekly basis. Instead of watching, study them! Try understanding why the punchline works, or why it didn’t? But don’t stop at Netflix. There’s also YouTube. If you don’t have fast WiFi then don’t worry, there’s always a free-view channel where you can binge-watch back-to-back episodes of Friends. Who said studying wasn’t fun?
Live the live experience: Comedy is best experienced live. If you’re especially feeling demotivated by your comedy work, it’s great to get rejuvenated by watching a live show. There’s something about a live atmosphere, with audience members holding onto each and every word of a comic that will create the right elation of why you’re in the comedy game in the first place.
Throw the rulebook out: If you’re a stickler for rules, you may never find your own comedic voice. Yes, it’s good to understand the structure of humour, from building tension to working towards a punchline from a premise, but ultimately you have to trust yourself. If you can laugh at your own joke then you are onto something.
Make a funny friend: A fresh pair of eyes is just as important as your tired ones. Have a trusted friend whose sense of humour you respect and will be honest with you. Remember, a critique should be constructive, but never offensive. If anyone puts you down through the process then they can jog on. Your jokes may not have been funny to them, but at least you’ll have the last laugh. And remember, it’s absolutely fine to laugh at your own jokes.
Mindfully meditate: Pull away from the multi-tasking schedule and find a quiet time where you can catch your thoughts, and let them be. Don’t interact with them. Just be a watcher of your thoughts. If you can achieve this then you are mindfully meditating, and it’s a wonderful experience that can rejuvenate the mind.
Get out: After you put yourself out there for the first time, you’ll always want to crawl under a rock, but resist! Get back out there whether it’s via social media or the next local open mic night. Talk to everyone and anyone. The more you expose your comedic voice, the less you’ll begin to feel conscious and awkward about yourself. Just remember you will never escape these feeling, but you just get more comfortable in handling them.
Go beyond yourself: Treat your surroundings like an infinite supply of comic material. Remember, the world is yet to be explored by your incisive comedic mind. When you’re out with friends, be a storyteller. Experience relatable moments by listening to others. Be a people watcher the next time you’re sipping on your latte. So basically, spread your wings and fly.
Practice! Practice! Practice: There is no such thing as improvising humour. There is only years of experience and a repertoire of material that sparks the impression of off the cuff. And even then, the best comedians never get complacent. So practice, practice and guess what else? Practice. Befriend the mirror in your home. You will not like what you see or hear, but in the end, audiences will. And that’s the end game.
Nabz Pat’s YouTube videos and stand-up routines are a blend of observational comedy mixed with her own experience of being South Asian and Muslim in the West.
Visit YouTube & Twitter: @NabzPat & Instagram: @nabz_pat