Other than experience, the one thing that separates the amateurs from the pros is that the pros get paid. It may not be much in the beginning, but as soon as somebody hands you some green stuff for being funny, you are what is known as a working comic. Then you can tell people that you're a comedian who happens to do a little waitering, as opposed to merely being a funny waiter.

  • Comedy clubs are where most amateur comics get their first crack at becoming working comics. Most comedy clubs videotape the amateur comics performing their short sets. Later on, somebody who works for the club watches the tape to find potential comics to "pass on." When you're "passed on," you've performed well enough as an amateur for the club to promote you to be a working comic. It helps if the manager who worked the night you performed liked your act. He/she will tip off the person watching the tapes to consider you first.

  • The lucky comic who gets passed on is often hired to be an "emcee." The emcee introduces the main acts of the show. Most regular comedy club shows consist of three acts. The first act is the emcee, who does 10 to 15 minutes of material. Then there's the feature act, who does 30 minutes, and finally, the headliner, who does 45 minutes to an hour.

  • At some point, have a videotape made of you doing your act. Working comics send videotapes of their act to comedy clubs around the country as a way of auditioning for a chance to get booked there.

  • There are other avenues for working comedians to pick up gigs. These include topless bars, corporate meetings, cruise ships, bar mitzvahs - the list goes on and on. In fact, corporate comedy is where a lot of the big money in stand-up is being made these days.

  • But first, we recommend you try the comedy club circuit. It gives you a better chance to really fine-tune your act because you're exposed to so many other stand-up comics.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW do stand-up comedy?