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How to get involved in Cambridge Footlights

Tips from the Footlights Membership Officer

Many freshers want to get involved in the Cambridge comedy scene, yet often have NO IDEA where to start. Yikes. The Tab caught up with the Membership officer of Cambridge Footlights to find out his advice for keen novice comedians…

"During my first term at Cambridge, I remember looking up a Footlights sketch show on YouTube, thinking how amazing it was, and how I wanted to try getting involved with comedy in Cambridge. I’m sure many people have had much the same experience. On the other hand, I’m sure many people have seen a comedy show in Cambridge, thought it was crap, and said to themselves that if they were to give it a go, they’d be much better at it.

Either way, I’m here to provide you with all the necessary info on how to get involved with Footlights!

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How Do I Start Performing Comedy?

There are tons of opportunities to perform comedy around Cambridge!

The most regular of these are the auditioned Footlights ADC Smokers (comedy nights) that happen every two weeks, and the open-mic style Footlights Corpus Smokers that happen on the weeks in between.

In addition, there are comedy nights that happen in various colleges throughout the year (either open-mic or auditioned), as well as more specific sketch or stand-up shows that you can audition for at random points.

If you want to get regular info about when all of these are happening, either sign up to the Footlights Mailing List or join the FOOTLIGHTS Facebook group, where you will receive regular updates about auditions/ other opportunities.

Most importantly just give stuff a go! The more experience you get, the more you’ll learn and the better you’ll become- much like any other skill.

How Do I Start Writing Comedy?

If you’ve ever made someone laugh, you can write comedy. If you don’t know where to start, think of the people that you find the funniest, and try to write how you imagine they'd write.

If you don’t know what to write your sketch or stand-up set about, think about things that have genuinely made you laugh. Whether that be something that happened to you, a strange idea that popped into your head, or just a weird turn of phrase that someone used. Start with that and see how you can build on it.

If you’re worried that what you’re thinking of won’t be good enough, just bash out anything you can. Once you have something written, no matter how bad you think it is, you can edit it to add as many jokes as you want. If you want some general tips though:

1) Be as succinct as possible.

Make sure every line is necessary, and is either a joke or sets up a joke. The more you edit your material, the better it will be.

2) Be original.

This doesn’t mean completely reinventing the form of comedy, rather staying away from stuff that you’ve seen done a million times before. Even if it doesn’t always land, the audience will appreciate you putting your own spin on certain subjects.

3) Think what makes you laugh and why it makes you laugh.

Whether it’s the subject matter itself, the way a joke is set up and pulled off, or just someone saying a word in a funny way, if it makes you laugh, figure out why and learn from it.

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If you want to see a Footlights sketch show, come see the Footlights Spring Revue this week (26th Feb – 2nd March)

If you want to meet people to share ideas with there are Footlights writing workshops every two weeks, led by some of the Footlights members.

You don’t have to come with anything polished; people will be more than willing to help you out in any way they can!

That’s all from me for now. I hope I’ve been of some use to you, and hope to see you at a comedy event soon! (Why not come audition for the next Footlights smoker!?)"