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How to be funny, according to Joel Byars

Joel Byars
Photographs by Mike Colletta

With his comedian interview podcast Hot Breath! on Mondays, Java Monkey open mics on Wednesdays, and stand-up classes at Highwire Comedy Co. on Sundays, Joel Byars keeps busy as a comic in Atlanta. Here are his five tips on how to find your funny in the A:

  1. “At the molecular level, a joke is a misdirect,” Byars says. A comic builds an assumption then breaks it. One punchline he’s proud of: “My girlfriend is perfect marriage material: She has a tattoo, so she can handle permanent mistakes.”
  2. Great comics find their voices by mining personal experience, he says, pointing to comics such as Clayton English, Caleb Synan, Dulcé Sloan, Noah Gardenswartz, D.C. Young Fly, and Karlous Miller, who can all claim Atlanta.
  3. Comics are everywhere, including social media, podcasts, and the improv stage. Find and follow them.
  4. Hit up local open mics, where comics have the freedom to fail in front of a supportive crowd. There’s one every night of the week, from Sundays at the Punchline to Thursdays at Uptown Comedy Corner.
  5. Embrace failure. “In stand-up the highs are higher, and the lows are lower, but you learn more from failure than success.” One event to attend? The annual Laughing Skull Comedy Festival in May. —Tess Malone