This article is from the Stand-up Comedy FAQ, by Steven Rosenthal and Steve Silberberg (email@example.com) with numerous contributions by others.
1. Keep a notebook and write down everything that strikes you as funny.
(Only write down the stuff YOU think of!!!!)
2. Start by going to open mikes. Prepare a few minutes of material and
give it your best shot.
3. Audio tape or video tape yourself when possible.
4. Don't call your act unfunny; they'll believe you.
5. Don't say "This is serious" or "This is drama"; they'll believe you.
6. Don't tell the audience they're tired or they don't have to stick
around. They'll believe you.
7. Don't tell the audience they're supposed to laugh. They WON'T believe
8. Don't use "savers" (jokes about bombing) until at least 3 gags went
9. Don't do the "endless close" if your final bit ate it. It's not only
excruciating for the audience, it unfairly eats into the next comic's
10. Don't dump on an audience member who didn't ask for it.
11. Don't berate the small audiences for being small. They showed up.
They're the good guys.
12. Don't judge, criticize, or rip other people. Comedy is more political
than you may imagine. Alternatively, politics is more comical than you
13. DON'T STEAL MATERIAL! Is your ego so fragile that you can't risk your
own material not being funny?
14. Don't get discouraged if you don't do well. (Not easy!).
15. Bring everybody you know out to see you perform so that the next day,
they can lie to you about how well you did.
16. Learn how to take a joke. Most comedians can't.