Having killer material doesn't mean anything if you can't remember any of it to save your life. If you get onstage and don’t know your material backwards and forwards you will eventually fail. Sorry. Maybe not the first time but sooner or later your mind will go blank and you will fold. Sorry. If you don't rehearse not only will you not kill, you will die onstage. Sorry. I’m talking about bombing. Bombing onstage is the worst thing that can happen to you as a comedian... Unless you’re Michael Richards, Steve Rannazzisi, or Bill Cosby. Thank God you're not them... if you are, sorry. Also, fuck joke thieves. I'm looking at you Carlos Mencia.
So, I notice that a lot of comics are funny in real life but when they get onstage they’re nowhere near as funny. This is due in part to a lack rehearsal, if they had their material sharpened to a razor's edge they'd be able to capitalize on their sense of humor in front of an audience.
Always rehearse the way you intend to perform... Or, you can rehearse at 10-20% above the level that you think you should perform your act at. It's not going to hurt you if you push. Pushing is the way that you develop a strong stage presence. Another reason why rehearsing just like you would onstage is so important is that rehearsing helps you develop your act-outs faster than if you only do run-throughs of your lines here and there. When you spend a lot of time in your material it evolves and the more time you spend with it the more evolution your material will make. You want your material to be like that picture you see where the monkey turns into a man, otherwise you're going to end up with some boneheaded material like some extinct neanderthal.
There is this principle called "Pareto's principle" that states this theory called the "80/20 rule". Where 20% of the work creates 80% of the results. There is a lot more to the rule than what I am talking about but what I'm imagining is that 20% of my comedy gets 80% of my laughs. When I think about my process the one thing I have not consistently done with my act is rehearse it everyday. I haven't been as disciplined about it as I have with other things, like; running, basketball, and art. I believe I would experience more positive performances overall.
Rehearsing helps you in many ways. One, it forces you to review your material (which keeps it fresh in your mind). Two, it makes you emotionally, mentally, and physically engage your material. Three, it helps you commit to truly feeling your words.
Be yourself as much as you can be while doing stand-up comedy. Try to connect with the audience like they're with you, at home, in your living room having a conversation. Rehearsing should help you bridge the gap as a comic between your written material and the audience’s sense of humor.
Practice in front of a mirror. Performing in front of the mirror helps you see see how you look when you deliver your lines. Sometimes jokes don't work because you made a weird face and it killed the joke. Sometimes comics don't like rehearsing because it can be boring, monotonous, and emotionally draining. Rehearsing isn't always fun. Do it anyway, it’ll make you better!
I've heard you can rehearse so much your material sounds robotic and it loses it’s life. I don't believe that because it's pretty hard to get to where you've over-rehearsed. I don't buy that I "over-rehearsed" mumbo-jumbo. You can rehearse day and night and still get feel like it’s enough. THE POINT IS IT WILL BE A LOT BETTER! Try over-rehearsing. See if you feel like you “over-rehearsed,” or if you just feel very prepared. And, remember, we're going for very prepared here, we're not going for some of bubble gum and scotch-taped together comedy happening here. Know your material!