The best place to start your trip into the world of comedy is in front of your mirror. Here you can practice your jokes and comedy routines until they are perfect, with no one to put you down or laugh in the wrong places. You can watch yourself perform and try out various movements until you are satisfied with them - and then perhaps you can ask your friends what they think.
The only trouble with friends are that they don't like to be unkind, so unless you know they are honest, take what they say with a grain of salt. Performing in front of family and friends is good in that it gives you confidence in yourself. You'll know that you can stand up on stage and go through your spiel without missing any lines. This knowledge is invaluable for when you do your first performance in front of strangers.
Your first performance might be at a larger family gathering of a birthday party, wedding breakfast or some other celebration. Or it could be at the local pub, a nightclub or bar, many of which have open mic. nights. Take along a friend or some family for support and to videotape your act, and then you can watch it afterwards and see how to improve. Don't worry if the audience doesn't laugh much; most of them will probably be amateur comedians themselves, waiting for their turn. Since they are the competition, they may not be too free with praise and applause.
The next step up in your climb to comedian fame is the club. Clubs often run Bringer nights where anyone can do a routine on stage if they bring five or so others that are paying customers. These shows are usually slotted in early in the show, before the advertised acts.
Although you might be eager to jump in there and show people what you can do, it doesn't hurt to do some training. Watching other comedians perform either live or on DVD will help you hone your skills, but an acting or drama school will also give you skills that you may not pick up from watching others perform.
Besides, not everyone you watch will be a good comedian and you don't want to pick up any bad habits. Becoming successful at anything takes a lot of hard work and practice; being a comedian is no different. But if it is something you love doing, all that hard work and practice will seem like fun.
How to Use Comedy Writing to Write a Sitcom
Once you've written your sitcom - or preferably several of them - you need to get them read. But not by just anybody; getting them read by an agent is a necessary step. Firstly, write a one or two sentence description of each, called a logline. This is what you pitch to the agents over the phone.
Make a list of all the agents who will accept unsolicited material. You can get this from the Writers Guild Association (WGA) online or look for those books that list literary agents. While no one likes rejection, it is a part of the process so don't be put off just because the first several say no to your script. Persistence is the key. Start off with all those agents who are listed as representing new writers and/or accepting unsolicited manuscripts.
Since many agents never read unsolicited manuscripts, you need to get the agencies permission to send it. Do this by phoning and asking if you can pitch your logline for a certain sitcom. Be succinct and to the point; no one has time to waste. Have two loglines ready in case they don't want to hear the first one.
Rehearse what you want to say, but be sure to keep it in written form close by in case you get nervous and forget. Never tell an agent how good you are, let your script do that for you. But you should aim to be funny or clever in your phone pitch - if you can do it well. If not, forget it. Agents are usually looking for ways to screen you out.
Once an agent agrees to read your script, send if off pronto and make sure you use his name in your cover letter. Keep a record of each agency you queried and what their response was. If they suggest a query by mail, be sure to do that - then you can call in another week to see if they got your letter. This is another chance to talk the agent into reading the whole script.
Mostly, success means contacts and you'll only get those if you hang out amongst comedians and writers and all those people in that industry. You might even consider moving to New York or Los Angeles and going for a job as a writer's assistant. That way you can become one of the family and eventually it will be right for you to ask someone to read your script.
Taking a TV writing class is another good way to make contacts. You can even do one online to get your foot in the door. However you do it, never claim that someone has recommended you if they have not. This lie will be found out and it will mean the end of any chance you may have had.