13 Lessons Every Aspiring Artist Must Learn From Stand Up Comedian Munawar Farooqui
Stand-up comedy is a beautiful art form. It takes observing, thinking, writing, creativity, and delivery. There is a lot to learn for all the different genres of artists and creative professionals from comedians.
I’m a standup comedy geek. It is almost impossible for me to move past a good comedian without taking a deep look at their craft.
I, fortunately, came across Munawar Farooqui after his first video upload on YouTube. And, I immediately feel for his different style and intellect behind the Jokes.
Recently, we saw Munawar at Punit’s Pania show ‘Beyond the Laughs’ and Abish Mathew’s Journey of a Joke.
Anyone who wants to take a closer look at what goes around behind the scenes of stand-up comedy must follow these shows.
I have procrastinated on writing, creativity, and art lessons I’ve learned from stand comedians for a very long time.
The lessons I’ve shared here are paraphrased, might not be as Munawar shared them. I’m sharing my version of the lessons, there is a lot more you could learn and I recommend you watch the complete episodes of it.
I’ve elaborated a few points by adding my views or explaining the lessons. This piece was starting to get too long so I’ve added some pointers that are self-explanatory.
Let’s start with what you can steal from Munawar Farooqui, the Stand-up comedian.
1. Build An Audience
When Munawar was starting, he didn’t have any friends in the comedy industry. He used to perform on open mics and connect with his audience on Instagram. He used to maintain a list of all the usernames/handles and make a note of when these people started following him.
Later, when he started to have some good opportunities, like when he did his first video shoot, he called his audience organically. He had like 3K followers and connected with them regularly.
This small community that he built helped him get his jokes out. Especially the viral ones, like the one about the sanitary pads being wrapped in newspapers.
2. Feed off the positive energy and keep moving forward
When you’re putting out your work as an artist, there’s going to be both kinds of response, good and bad.
There’ll be people complimenting your work and there’ll be people rejecting your craft. This is bound to happen. Every individual is different and their tastes are different.
So when you get an appreciation for your work, embrace it. Good compliments on Instagram, YouTube, and one open mic were good enough to encourage Munawar to dream big and keep moving forward.
3. Practice, Practice, and Practice.
There is a small conversation in the Journey of Joke where Abish points out in a humble way that Munwar has done more stage time since 2018 than Abish did in 12 years. And, this has helped him grow his craft to another level.
Abish also adds about how staying disciplined at the start of your journey helps you train yourself to do that instinctively.
He says, “Start with discipline to a point where it comes to you instinctively”
This was probably the biggest takeaway for me from the complete episode.
4. Don’t be over-obsessed with formulas
Abish asks him his awareness about the formulas. Munawar admits that he knows them but he isn’t an expert with them.
Abish responds with “The peril of knowledge is you stop evolving”.
He means knowing too many formulas and restricting yourself to them, keeps you limited and you don’t creatively explore much.
This is very subtle but heavy advice for new artists.
5. Failure happens for a reason and they help you move forward
Munawar shares that he auditioned for a reality comedy show, but doesn’t share the name for it. He shares that he had tried all he could to get into the show and he was pretty confident. But later it turns out he wasn’t selected. This devastated him.
Yet, he thanks almighty that he failed. As a result, he put out his first ever video on YouTube, which helped him reach this point as an artist. If he had been selected as a contestant on the reality show, he would have still been waiting for the big break to happen as the show didn’t shoot because of the pandemic.
6. Don’t change your art to please others
Even if you get negativity for your work, it’s just because people haven’t understood you or your work yet. Just keep working and stay focused on your path and they’ll be part of your audience. If you try to change your work to satisfy the haters, you’ll sabotage your art and suppress yourself.
He also shares how people send him messages saying they were sorry for misunderstanding his work.
7. Stay true to your natural art and be genuine
Munawar talks about how he erased and edited out most of his jokes after (almost) eight months, and only kept the jokes that sounded like him.
My personal two cents on this advice is, it takes a lot of practice to develop your unique natural voice as an artist. When you’ve practiced to that level you can tell your unique voice.
8. Don’t Overthink — If Munawar had been overthinking about making things perfect and doing it the right way. He would have not yet made it to YouTube.
9. Respect your audience and serve them well.
10. Celebrate your wins — He enjoyed the process of getting 20K views on his first youtube video and even getting to 40K and then to 1 lakh views.
11. Use your friends and test your work — Munawar shares about how he wrote his complete bit: Ghost Story and even performed it on stage after testing it out with his friends on phone calls.
12. Always keep testing your work and learn from what’s working the best for you.
This was an important lesson for me, as I’m a copywriter and I’ve to keep testing what’s working and what’s not.
13. As an artist you have to speak out about what everyone wants to say but doesn’t know how to say it.
As an artist, I found these damn too valuable pieces of insights.
Quite frankly, these don’t just apply to artists and creative professionals, everyone can learn a lot.
Did I miss out on anything? Please respond below.
Please let me know what you found as the best insight from Munawar Farooqui’s Journey.