“Wow, you’re funny. You should be a comedian,” your friend says, rolling their eyes.
Ignore their taunts. We both know your one-liners are comic gold, your delivery flawless. But unfortunately, humour is subjective; your mates just don’t ‘get’ you, right? You need to prove yourself. Thankfully, entering Raw Comedy can do just that.
Established in 1996 and held annually, Raw Comedy is an Australian competition for emerging comedians. Stand-up novices are encouraged to enter the contest, held state-wide from January to March.
Survive the heats and you’ll progress to the semis, then state finals, before heading off to Melbourne for the grand final. Win that and you get sent to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, taking on comedians from around the world.
Competition is fierce. Although judges don’t use a ‘scoring’ system, if you want to take out top prize, you’ll need original material, a confident stage manner, and an ability to make audiences laugh. Obviously.
2011 SA Raw Comedy winner Tom Gaynor said entrants shouldn’t worry about being knocked out.
“The first year I didn’t win Adelaide. I got knocked out of the semi-finals and that was my second ever show,” he said. “Over the next year I did a couple of shows, but my goal was towards the next RAW comedy. I was like, ‘Look, if you win the Adelaide final, then you’ve got some sort of ability and you can keep at it’.”
Tom said performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival after winning the state final was an “insane kind of rush”.
“I finished second. I won a bunch of flowers. The winner got sent to Edinburgh in Scotland. They were good flowers, though,” he said.
But hang on, how do you actually prepare for a show? And how do you win over your audience?
Australian comedy legend Greg Fleet has one simple rule: start with your second best material and end with your best.
“And then everyone forgets what happens in between,” he said.
Greg, or ‘Fleety’, said even if you’re not naturally funny, you can still have a successful stand-up career.
“I’ve known comics who are deadly serious people. They approach it like a science, like mathematics: a plus b divided by c equals funny,” he said. “They have a formula for it and they write to that formula. They don’t improvise, they don’t muck around and it’s all very serious.”
However, Fleety said improvisation is an important part of comedy, encouraging newcomers to have fun on stage.
“I go about my comedy in a very haphazard way. I just let it occur to me for the most part…my writing process is basically on stage and just kind of mucking around,” he said.
Adelaide Comedy promoter Craig Egan loves having big names like Fleety over here, but he recognises supporting local talent is critical to our comedy scene.
“With the big names…they’re there to basically help the local crew at getting better at what they do,” he said.
“They’ll sit down with the young guys after each of their sets and see if they can help them out.”
Craig said 2012 Raw Comedy has had a record number of entries, but stressed even if you miss out on the heats, there are still plenty of opportunities throughout the year.
“Just come and see us after the Fringe. Come down and say hello,” he said.
“There are open mic nights at Rhino Room on Monday nights and we’re always happy to see new, fresh faces jumping up and giving it a go.”
One fresh face you can expect to see this year is aspiring comedian and UniSA student Taylor Goodwin.
Taylor, who’s entering Raw for the first time, hopes the competition will help him gain exposure on our local scene. Despite his friends and family scoffing at suggestions he’ll be comedy’s next ‘big thing’, Taylor is convinced he can do well.
“I’m one hundred per cent confident I will win the state finals. It’s always been my realistic attitude that has made me the funniest man alive,” he joked.
“I’m a one-liner comic; people can expect dry humour and puns.”
Taylor has no hesitation in stacking the audience with his friends either, though he admits he’s a little worried about how they’ll react.
“I have a few close friends coming along (to my show) but I’m confident in my routine and will try to earn my laughs,” he said.
So what inspired the second-year middle and secondary school education student to enter Raw?
“It was the words ‘I never want to be forgotten’ – Anonymous. I also never want to be forgotten.”
I wish Taylor and all Raw contestants the best of luck. May the last stand-up standing win!
For competition heat times, visit adelaidecomedy.com.