One of the most commonly asked questions to a veteran comic is, “how did you find your voice?”
This can be a tricky question to answer as the path to “finding yourself” as a comic can be different for everyone. There is only really one guaranteed answer and that is the voice that you start out with isn’t yours.
When you are starting out in stand-up comedy, the jokes might be original, but the timing, delivery, and even the type of joke will be an already established comedian. Most likely it’ll be the one that influenced you enough to get on stage in the first place. It’s not something that you are doing on purpose, but it’s going to happen. Don’t worry. You are not “ripping them off” unless you are doing their material. You just haven’t found your “stage legs” yet.
This is all part of the journey. Don’t believe me? Let’s have a look at three of the biggest comedians of all time. Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and godfather of modern comedy Lenny Bruce. We all know the material that made them legends but do you know their early stuff? It couldn’t be more night and day.
When each comedian started out they were doing impressions and general observational humor. Richard Pryor and George Carlin did a lot of characters while Lenny Bruce did impressions. Hard to think of these idols of “tell it how it is” comedy doing these types of gags but it’s true. Hell, the intellectual giant that is comedian Dennis Miller started as a prop comic.
The only way to find your voice is to use it. You will need to get on stage as often as you can to find yourself. The truth is that it might take you a while to get that moment of clarity when it comes to your voice but it will happen. You need to work at it, it’s in the movements on stage, how you hold the microphone, how you dress, and how you talk. It all makes you “you”.