Comedy is very hard. Mostly because when you are trying to be funny, you aren’t funny. So how do you get better at comedy?

Start with listening and watching. Some people are born with a natural instinct for comedy and that can’t be taught. For those who aren’t, the best strategy is to learn from watching.

Start by watching the pros. Watch Abbot and Costello. Watch “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?”. Find the VHS tapes your parents have of “The Carol Brunette Show” and play them over and over. Pay attention to how the comics listen and watch their fellow performers. Take note of the way they accept the ideas of their fellow actors and use them to find something else that is funny. These are the first steps to comedy.

You must then employ these listening skills as you act or play at comedy. If you have the opportunity to join an improv team or take an improv class you must start there. At the foundation of good improvisation is great listening.

As you learn how to listen you can then start to offer ideas and play with your own ideas. Allow others to teach you as you grow. Ask your teachers for help. Watch as your fellow players play and apply the things you see to your own craft.

You must also be patient. Learning to be a great listener and comedian is a lifelong journey. No one achieves greatness in a moment. Every great comic started bombing in a night club. You have to expect these failures and learn from them when they happen so you will never fail in the same way again. Dust yourself off, take note of your lessons, and try again.