The stage is a comedian’s workplace, and territory. When you are on stage, it should be clear that it is time for a show and you are going to give one to the crowd. Here are some ways you can better take charge on stage.
Look at them! Unless your act requires it, you should be up there looking at the audience. When I first started, I could not stand to look at them judge me. What I started doing instead was looking just above eye level. That way the audience thinks you are looking at them, but you aren’t. Just staring ahead at the first couple of rows isn’t enough. You have to look at all of the audience! Try to connect with everyone in the crowd. It let’s them know you are not only going to tell them jokes, but connect with them while they laugh.
Look comfortable. You have to look as though you are in front of a group of friends. If you are nervous, don’t alert the crowd to that fact (unless it is a part of your act of course). If your hands shake really bad when you are nervous, place one in your pocket or keep the mic in the mic stand in front of you. Starting out, I would get so nervous I would get sick. So, I started out telling a couple of smaller, warm up jokes that would get the crowd laughing and in turn, would calm my nerves. If your knees get a little wobbly, try pacing a little on stage. This will get you moving so the audience can’t see how nervous you are and that may help you calm down sooner.
Memorize your material. You don’t look like you are so sure of your stuff if you are constantly looking at the stool. During an open mic or something, looking at notes is cool because that is what an open mic is for. Looking at your notes at a paid show looks like you didn’t bother to prepare, and keeps you from physically moving away from your notes. There are comedians that can bring notes on stage and not make it known that they do. If you must take notes with you, then you may have to get inventive. Trying taping it to the side of your water bottle or glass. Then when you take a drink, you can sneak a peek. You can also try writing it on the inside of your arm. Don’t write on your palms because it is much more noticeable to the audience.
Ignore distractions! Part of being an effective comedian is knowing when you should and should not interact with things off stage. Some things can not be helped. If someone is getting thrown out of the bar, you have to address it so as to get the attention back on you. A lot of comedians with not a lot of stage time will want to point out every thing that is happening in the room. This can throw the show off course and make it seem as though you are easily distracted. If a glass drops, the audience knows that. Unless you have a really good joke, just let it be and keep on with your act. Sometimes the audience is the distraction. Hecklers should be shut down, but you have to analyze the situation and see if it is needed. Sometimes the best way to deal with a heckler is to ignore them. If an audience member is responding to you material, sometimes not saying anything back is the best way to keep it from messing with your ongoing show. If it can not be helped make sure let them know that you heard them. If this does nothing then your standard heckler response may be needed. I always advise comedians not to go to hard on a heckler at first because you don’t want the audience to think you are the asshole. Most audience members want the person talking to shut up, so all you have to do is make it clear that it will not be tolerated. This will show that you are in charge, and this is your show. Do not let the inmates run the asylum!
I hope this helps those that have been having trouble getting that edge on stage. I think these tips will help you get that crowd listening to your dick jokes.