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Stand-up comedians are a rare breed among professional entertainers. They must possess, not only an exceptionally great sense of humor, but the lightning-fast mental reflexes of an intellectual ninja as well. Stand-up comedians don't have the luxury of requesting for repeat takes - they either they do their act right the first time or not at all. One joke could mean the difference between getting a standing ovation or booed off the stage. Stand-ups need need to be a jack-of-all trades - writer, editor, performer, joke-tester, speaker, entertainer, charmer, and court jester, being able to laugh at life and more importantly, themselves. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. And these are the comedians who have stepped up to the plate.

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Comedy has been around for a long time - perhaps it can be siad that it’s the world’s second-oldest profession! Although the same can be said for other live performers, such as Broadway actors and stage musicians, stand-up comedians face more pressure than their counterparts. Stage plays and concerts which receive lukewarm applause can be considered by the audience and reviewers as mediocre, but not necessarily a total failure. With stand-up comedy acts, success and failure is more black and white. The stand-up comedian is alone on stage, the spotlight focused on them (literally). Either the audience laughs or it doesn't. Either the stand-up comedian's spiel is considered humorous or it's not.

There are several factors that stand-up comedians have to take into account in order to evoke that much-coveted audience laughter.The best stand-up comedy material has to be original and witty. Timing in delivering lines for a stand-up comedian has to be impeccable as well; a funny anecdote or joke may fall flat if it is delivered at the wrong time. They also need to have the knack of immediately establishing good rapport with their audience. But even the best stand-up comedian - with great material, innate sense of timing and charm - can still fail to make certain people crack a smile. It's not necessarily always their fault if the audience isn't howling with laughter after all their hard work. A routine isn’t perfected in one try - it takes a lot of real comedy writing, gather material, practicing and occasionally getting feedback from other stand-up comedians. So apart from having sharp mental reflexes, stand-up comedians also need a great sense of humor that is not only confined to the stage but can also be used to make light of the challenges of their career.

Stand-up comedy is not a good career path, and certainly not for everyone. It’s grueling, tiring and competition is tough. A stand-up comedian’s life is not aways stable and many spend years, even decades paying their dues - joining other comedians on tour from city to city, hoping to catch their big break. For every successful stand-up comedian, Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, Dave Chapelle, there’s a long list of comedians who haven’t had such luck. The rewards of stand-up comedy can be great - fame, fortune and success can happen overnight and a stand-up comedian can become a nobody into a superstar in an instant, garnering TV and film deals, and soon they won’t have to work so hard just to get by.

But, selling stand-up comedy tickets and money are only second on their priority list - it is the craft, the laughs and the applause that keeps stand-up comedians coming back for more and taking the stage.
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