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The Comedian’s Golden Ticket? A Solid Demo Reel.

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Even if it’s the only part of the job that needs to be taken seriously, comedians should put together a standup reel showcasing their ability to nail a joke and make an audience laugh.  No matter where you’re hoping to perform, it’s important to have a reel ready to play if asked, and a flawless compilation will get you in the door.

Your reel should be compromised of performances at known venues or at least at places where it’s obvious you’re standing at a mic in front of a crowded room and the audience is entertained.  As a comedian, you’re bound to take on gigs at many different locales, but you’re better off pulling together professional material from easy-to-identify spots than footage from a private party with a limited guest list.

Ideally, you’ll want to include shows you’ve headlined at comedy clubs.  If you haven’t landed a gig of this magnitude yet, select the next best opportunity on your resume.  Choose a location that had a solid sound system, too, so your jokes can easily be heard.  You don’t want laughter to drown out your lines.  It’s great that you made the crowd laugh, but you want to show off why at the same time.

Keep the jokes on your reel relevant and clean – no cursing.  You wouldn’t put swear words on your resume, right?  You’ll want to keep the whole submission package professional.  After all, you may not know where the reel will be played or who will be listening, so it’s best to avoid too-dark humor altogether. 

Of course, you’ll want to try and come up with clips that are sure to make the recipient chuckle.  This is a fairly subjective task, but then again, so is practicing stand-up to begin with.  When you’re putting a show together, chances are there will be mixed reactions to at least some of your jokes.  This is half the battle of being a successful comedian.  If you can come up with original, laugh-worthy material 90-percent of the time, you’ll be remembered. 

Create the perfect combo of jokes you wrote and a snapshot of how you deliver them.  Both carry significant weight and will be given equal attention.  Try not to get so caught up with attempting to make the recipient of your reel laugh, however, that you forget what quality looks like.  Get your creative juices flowing and do what you do best!

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