Stand-up to 'find your voice'

Updated: Jun 23




"You've just got to find your voice, don't worry you'll find your voice, have you found your voice yet?"

(everyone in stand-up ever)


This is Stand-up Comedy's big question - the centre point of advice from other comedians and it's often presented as a quasi-mystical quest - a holy grail of comedy (pythons not included).


In stand-up comedy, the phrase 'find your voice' is everywhere.

So what the hell does it actually mean?


Find your voice = Find out who you are

So, throw away your copy of 'riddles for dummies', shake the wise-woman's hand and say "no thanks, I've got this".

Swan on over to Merlin, Obi-wan Kenobi and Gandalf take them to the side and kindly hand them their pink slips and say "you did good kid". Then grab them by whatever the collective noun for beard is and chuck them out the door.


Finding your voice in Stand-up Comedy means,

finding out who you are up there.



"When you put a person in front of a room of people, [they] are going to perform, when in this situation bits of [their] personality are no longer necessary and will be dropped, whereas other parts of their personality will aid the situation.’

(Tony Allen, 2014)

Tony Allen, The 'God father of Alternative Comedy' as he's affectionately known, would call this your 'attitude' displayed in 'defence mode' it's what separates Stand-up Comedy from other styles of performance.


It is live, it is now

it is you

in front of others.

You are a person, a personality and a persona


WARNING: you might want to go and crack open a window, it's going to whiff of pretension in here for a minute - but I promise it's worth it.


Stand-up Comedy is a crash course in learning

  • who you are

  • how you are

  • what it is about you that engages other people

(something I truly believe everyone has the potential to do & should learn how to)

Stand-up Comedy is not just an ego on display -it's you under a microscope


On face value it can look like Stand-up Comedy is just the ultimate act of extraversion, 'look at me, look at me!' but no it's not...well sort of... it's more of a 'yes-but-no-but' situation.


Stand up comedy is like an act, but it also requires a constant act of introspection



So enter Johari's Window

This is you, you are a window - congratulations - there's only one panel we can all see through, but we can work on that.

In short there's a you...

  1. that you know and others know too

  2. that you don't know, but others do

  3. that you know, but others don't

  4. that even you don't know and others don't know either

Try this example on for size:

  1. I like cake, I am a cake lover - and we all know it

  2. I like cake and you think I'm obsessed with it - I didn't know that

  3. I love cake - I hide them under the bed - you're not supposed to know that

  4. The truth is, there's no such thing the cake is a lie


What does this have to do with Stand-up Comedy?


This is the process

of Stand-up Comedy

Picture this:

You're up on stage, the light is focused on you - you are literally highlighted - the microphone amplifies your voice - you are the loudest, brightest person in the room; you are not just working out the audience, you are working out yourself


Here's how it works

  • The open self is you on stage sharing your experience with others.

  • The blind self is the audience reactions, you write a note about what works and what doesn't.

  • The hidden self is you at home, trying to figure out what is worth talking about.

  • The unknown self is you back on stage, in the moment something works and you have no idea why - you try to catch it and do it again - it doesn't work - you have no idea why - you go home and try to work it all out.



The whole process is you in negotiation


A Stand-up's to do list: write at home, test it out, reflect in the moment and after the fact, react in the moment and try again, go back home and do it again.



Stand-up Comedy is a crash course in learning who you are


It's a constant iterative cycle of trying and failing, working and reworking and the only way to learn it, is to do it.


You can close the window now, I think the whiff has gone and you need to get to work on giving it a clean so we can climb through the looking glass.


Want to find out more?


This is part of a series called:


'So I studied Stand-up Comedy:

why was it good for me personally?' (Catch up here: Part1, Part2, Part 3.)


and don't forget to

Listen, Learn, Stand-up & Speak


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