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My Life As A Stand-Up Comic

By: Onika McLean


Standing up is more about sitting down and writing. I have been a stand-up comic for a number of years and have found it is more about content than actual delivery.


There is a huge difference between deliverance and delivery. Deliverance will take you far beyond your imagination and delivery allows for a giggle. Have you ever heard someone rave about a comedian’s set and when you ask them what did the person talk about they couldn’t remember? That is because it was a surface set and surface sets don’t resonate on a deeper level for someone to remember.


Stand up is about the journey within yourself to free those that are under the sound of your voice, but for me, it’s a ministry. The more that I realize my inner workings, the more powerful my mission becomes to make the world laugh. I view tragedy as a way to see the world differently. Comics get to turn social constructs on its head. If a comic isn’t willing or attempting to uncover past hurt and pain, they will have a difficult time sustaining and honing their craft. Being inspired is the first step for many comedians but after the inspiration what’s next? Is it not your job as a comedian to develop the material by using different wording that adds to your gift to inspire?


To become co-laborers with the spirit you must add your part. When a person says “I am,” that means you put your thought and time into meshing your gifts, talents, and abilities. I remember saying this line to Marlon Wayans: “Black don’t crack unless you smoke it!!” You know what he did? He used that line and took it from a hot tag to something well crafted and developed that he used on his Netflix special. At first, I was a little upset, but then I looked at it from the standpoint that he is a true talent.  Talented people know that inspiration can take you but so far. There is a point where inspiration must be met with determination. Sitting down to stand up is key and when you start realizing that and trusting your pain and insightfulness, God will give you the thought but you as the creative must do your part.


Check out Onika at


About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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