life lessons from comedians

mic 4 stand up

Learning from stand-up comedy: lessons for life

Most people think that professional stand-up comedians are depressed or jaded individuals who use dysfunctionality to drive their art. My view is otherwise – but either way, I believe that we can learn a great deal about how to deal with life from observing their methods. Let’s look first at the qualities for which stand-up comedians are admired, to see what inspiration this offers.

Life lessons from comedy:
a 12 step programme:

  1. Don’t begrudge your laughter.
  2. Take life less seriously. Take yourself less seriously. Take your problems less seriously
  3. Be yourself – a unique individual with a very particular take on life, and style of living. Accept that you’re imperfect. Let people know the real you.
  4. Take risks – risk failure, risk ridicule, risk being wrong. Think: \’what’s the worst that can happen? Distinguish between seriously worrying possibilities (spouse leaving you, bankruptcy, death) and trivial matters (looking stupid, not being sexy, not being liked)
  5. If people think you’re an idiot and laugh at what you say, pretend you meant it to be funny and that you’re in charge. That’s how comedian’s start out.
  6. Enjoy being the centre of attention from time to time. Perform a little (but not all the time – that’s fatal).
  7. Don’t try too hard at being funny.
  8. Be sensitive to what’s going on around you; connect with people; notice how they are affected by what you say and do; develop this sensitivity into an instinctive habit. Learn ongoingly from this, just as comedian’s continuously develop their material and their delivery.
  9. Recognise the power of the present moment – don’t overly dwell on the past or obsess about the future.
  10. Try to see the funny side of life. Accept that life involves upsets, challenges and disasters, and that comedy can sometimes help process these.
  11. Develop your \’comedian’s mind’ – look at things differently, make unconventional observations, not following formulaic thinking.
  12. Laugh at yourself, not others – but don’t do serious self-deprecation.


Gerry Thompson