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erikaziger's avatar

How do I find my own artistic voice?

Asked by erikaziger (345points) June 10th, 2010

I have a theatre background and have been doing stand-up comedy for a little over a year now. Since I am just starting out, sometimes I get huge laughs and sometimes I get no laughs. I am struggling, because sometimes I watch the more experienced comics and I think I should be doing what THEY’RE doing. But, really I need to experiment and try to find my own artistic voice. How do I do this??

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4 Answers

envidula61's avatar

Oh God, this is the hardest thing: learning that you can never be someone else. You can only be yourself. All you can do is borrow techniques, or maybe even lines from someone else, but mostly, you have to, no matter how much you may want to take shortcuts, be yourself.

You have to let yourself fail. Without failure, you’ll never learn. It helps to have a thick skin when you are busy failing right and left. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and run off to Disneyland. No. Wait. That’s not how it goes, is it?

So I have this idea that you should love failure. Not because you want to fail, but because it is your best teacher. Every time you get booed off the stage or the room is silent, love it. Hell, you could tell the audience you love it. Give them my schtick.

Silence? Oh boy, you say. I just looooooove failure. I’m flat as piecrust here, and not nearly as tasty. But see, this jelly on fluther (and stop to explain that if necessary) told me I should love failure and here I am, and you guys are giving all the love in the world. I could kiss you all!

Or something. It’s not my job to write material, although all the night show guys have writers. But you see what I mean? How you can pretend this is what you want—because it actually is what you want? And then you lighten up, and get funny.

You learn from your successes, too, so long as you understand them. But you knew that. I’m just talking about how you can love failure and that’s how you will develop your own voice.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

As @envidula61 suggests, “You have to let yourself fail. Without failure, you’ll never learn.”

No truer words were ever spoken.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

When you write your material… think of the great words of Red Smith, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter & open a vein.”

I have always believed that if you have writers block (whether it’s for a novel, comedy sketch, etc) it’s because you are too afraid to write what you really want.

So just do it. No matter what comes out of you. What do you think the comedy of Richard Pryor or George Carlin would have been like if they said, “oh, I can’t say that joke, that’s too much, what would people think of me?” They wrote & said whatever came to them & that is how they came to have a very clear artistic voice. If it comes from within, without any planning or edits, that is your authentic voice. You can’t edit yourself to fit the needs/wants of your audience. If you do, you no longer have a personal voice, you have a public voice, like a politician & the last thing we need is another politician. :)

So tap into a vein & bleed all over the place. (metaphorically of course.. please don’t hurt yourself in anyway- unless it’s for a good laugh)

Andreas's avatar

@erikaziger I agree with @envidula61 and @rpmpseudonym

Another point to remember is this: “The tears of a clown”. Some of the greatest clowns have had such terrible lives that clowning gave them a measure of relief, and they probably drew from their experience, just like actors are told to do. Both clowns and actors are in allied professions to stand up comics.

See if you can’t find yourself some biographies of people who have been successful in ANY sphere of life, but especially in the areas mentioned here.

And just to repeat the obvious: “Just do it”—Nike slogan.

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