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Judy Carter
Getting Found
Get Seen

Developing New Material

Whether you're just starting stand-up, or you've had your special on Comedy Central, when developing new material, we're all reduced to beginner rank.

We all go through the same process with new material, and the methods Judy Carter uses  to take some raw ideas and polish them might help as you try to turn your rough ideas into gems.

So - here's some tips on developing new material:

1. Record your ideas as they come to you.

Funny ideas don't just magically appear when you sit down to write them.Ideas are your master -- and you are their bitch.  They'll show up when they feel like it, and you'd better jump to it and record them when they happen.

With an iPhone, this is easy; just talk and record.  But for me, the hard part's transcribing all the recordings.  (280 at last count.)  If you're like me and can't stand to listen to your own voice, get someone else to transcribe your audio rantings for you.   is cheap and gets the job done fast.

2.  Stand-up is like exercise.

Just because you got your body in shape two years ago doesn't mean it'll stay in shape.  You've got to work it every day.  And that means ALWAYS setting a goal for yourself to keep improving.

Create a specific goal for each performance, whether it's trying out some new material, working the crowd, or just making it through a set without being set on fire.

3. Get yourself a posse.

Doing stand-up alone is a one-way ticket to hell.  Depending on other comics you barely know to give you support is like asking a suicide bomber for a hug.  You probably won't get it, and it may not turn out well even if you do.

Once a week I get together with my comedy buddy to jam new material, and then we do the open mikes together. That way, we help each other tweak, change, or throw out material.  And we each have a better sense of what will (or won't) work for the other after seeing their material tried in front of an actual audience.  Click to get a comedy buddy.

4. After trying new material on stage, write it out verbatim.

Make sure you record your set at every open mike, and take the time later to transcribe it precisely.  Seeing your material in black and white will help you take out unnecessary words on the way to the laugh.  And very often, you'll find that you unintentionally said something just a tiny bit differently than last time - but the very small difference in wording made all the difference in getting a huge laugh.

5. Know where the laughs are (or where they should be).

When you deliver your material, especially the new stuff, have the guts to punch every joke and hold for the laugh.  That takes balls, or ovaries, or whatever you have that gives you courage.  If a joke doesn't work, there's an awkward silence when you pause.  It's scary, but it's the only way you'll know if the joke bombed - or if you just talked through what could have been a laugh because you were nervous.

6. Breathe.

We do it every day, but for some reason it's easy to forget when you're holding a microphone.  A full inhale and exhale without words helps separate your jokes, improves your timing, and gives you the appearance of confidence.(If you look like you think your stuff is funny, it's a little easier to convince the audience.)

This helpful info comes from my idol Judy Carter: 



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