📢 Listen to this comedy tip.


MTL - Mind The Light

It's really hard to tell how long you've been on stage. I mean, it's easy to tell the time on your phone, but onstage, you can't always see your watch.  It's not like watching a TV show or movie where you can see the clock in the corner, or on the screen! Onstage, you have to look to your internal clock to see how much time you have left, and that's nerve-wracking.

Always respect your time and watch for the light.

You've got a solid 60 minutes worth of material planned for your set, but how long will it actually be by the time you finish? You know the adage: an hour of comedy is like a minute of comedy, but what actually happens? Yes, it's your show, but if you're walking on stage without any warning, you may just end up losing your audience.

A comic will often be signaled that their time on stage is almost over by a hand held light waved at them from somewhere in the room.

A common way to effectively end a set is to have a friend, or family member, or even a well-placed handheld light, wave a hand-held light at the comedian. This signals that it’s time for them to go home. Sometimes, the audience will let them know it’s time to go home by giving the comedian a standing ovation.

Comedy shows tend to be timed to the minute and very often, especially in clubs where there are multiple shows each night, the show has to end at a certain time.

In a comedy club, there are usually two show times each night, with the main show starting at 8:30 and the late show starting at 9:45. The late show is not necessarily a second act; the set closes at 9:30 and often the second act starts at 10:00. The logic behind this is that the club owner wants the last of the crowd to leave as soon as possible for reasons of security and potential lawsuits.

It cannot be stressed enough that you MUST stay within your allotted time on stage.

The art of standup comedy isn't something to take lightly. A routine should not be a set of jokes strung together in any order. It should be a coherent piece of work that works on its own, and the audience should appreciate it for what it is. If the audience doesn't see the jokes as separate, the effect is lost. The same is true if you don't stay within your allotted time. You don't want to make the audience's last 10 minutes a blur, do you?

If you need a light before you go on: Ask for a light.

Before every set you're so focused on getting good jokes out there you forget about everything else. It’s hard not to let the routine get in the way of the show, but when you’re on stage there’s a lot of stuff running through your mind that’s hard to focus on, and that includes the very simple things like the light. The best and most important thing for you to remember is that you need a lightset up before you go on stage.


Before the show starts ask the host or producer to give you a light. (If they are too busy you can always ask another comic to give you a light.)

"Ahead of a gig, I always get nervous. I will do anything to calm down and loosened up. One of the most effective ways I have found to do this is by asking someone to give me a "light". I do this because I feel it is rude to be breaking into their world without asking permission. I have asked people to give me a light for the purpose of a joke, but I has also been done for a more innocent reason." - Every Comic

Set the amount of time you have left when being lighted.

Stand-up comedy is a tricky art form to master. You have to be funny and energetic, but you also have to be able to read the room and anticipate the people in front of you. This is why it's so important to be prepared. We live in a fast-paced age of super-connected people that have short attention spans, and you don't want to be the one to start a new trend by going on stage and dying mid-set. So, as soon as you are told to stop, you need to stop.

Agree with the person timing you as to when you want to be lighted during your set.

For example, if you are doing a 7 minute set and you think it will take 2 minutes for you to finish up, tell the light giver to light you at 2 minutes left - that is after you've been on for 5 minutes.

Always give yourself at least a minute left in your set when you are being lighted.

Recently, a friend of mine was performing a stand-up set and was encouraged by the audience to keep going, even though the host had signaled for a stop. The friend thought about it for a second and decided to give the audience a minute left in his set, not realizing this would now be a running joke—especially at their next show.


Watch for the light.

Make sure you and the light giver know where in the room they will waving the light at you from. Stay aware of that area when you are on stage.

Professional comedians do the time on stage they are allowed. Be professional.

In summary, the best lesson from this stand-up comedy show is that being professional goes a long way. A lot of comics hope for the big break, when the host, or producer, or TV network will see the talent, and give them a chance. The truth is, you have to take your chances when they are given. Those who are in the spotlight are there because they have taken the opportunities they have been given, and have worked to be the best at their craft.

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