Education and Training Requirements

High School

There are no set educational standards for comedians. The overriding requirement is to be funny. Comedians should also have a love of performing and a strong desire to make people laugh. A comedian should obviously have good communication skills and be able to write material in a succinct and humorous manner. It is also necessary to have a strong stage presence. Often, budding comedians will take English and composition classes, as well as speech and acting courses, to help develop skills in these areas. Accounting and bookkeeping skills are also helpful, as comedians often prepare their own financial records. Marketing classes will come in handy because you'll need to be able to promote your talents on the Internet, including on social media sites. 

Postsecondary Training

Few colleges and universities offer specific courses on how to become a comedian. However, higher education may give a comedian a stronger understanding of society and current events, useful when writing their material. Becoming a comedian takes a lot of hard work and, as with other performance skills, practice, practice, practice. Many communities have improvisational groups that provide a training ground for aspiring actors and comedians. Some comedy clubs also offer classes.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements to be a comedian. The only requirements are to have an excellent sense of humor and a thick skin to face the many challenges along the way.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Comedians gain experience by performing their comedy act in front of live audiences. This allows them to try out new jokes and experiment with timing and delivery of jokes.  

Making people laugh is not a skill that is easily taught. Most good comedians have an inborn talent and have made jokes or performed humorous skits since childhood. This means more than simply being the class clown; talented comedians see events in a humorous light and share this perspective with others. Above all else, a comedian must have a keen sense of timing. A funny line, delivered improperly, loses its effectiveness.

Comedians come in all shapes and sizes. Indeed, it is often the person who looks and feels somewhat different who is better able to see humorous aspects of human nature and society. A comedian should be able to take material from his or her own background (be it growing up in a small town, having overbearing parents, or other situations) and interpret this material in a way that appeals to others.

Comedians should be keen observers of daily life and be perceptive enough to recognize the humor in day-to-day events. But comedians should not be overly sensitive and become unduly disappointed if audiences do not respond to their jokes at every performance. It may take years to develop the skills to be a successful comedian, and even the most successful comedians can have an off night.