What's funny in a box?
June 14, 2012 5:20 AM   Subscribe

Any ideas for presents for a young man who wishes to be a professional stand-up comedian?

My brother just received a professional degree but is choosing to pursue stand-up instead. He has been doing this for ten years. I want to give him a present (to commemorate his receiving this degree) but I want to relate to stand-up, since that is what he'll be pursuing.

Any ideas? Great books? A little microphone to record his sets?

Any ideas welcome...
posted by Clotilde to Shopping (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It's not expensive, but I'd highly recommend The Naked Jape as a good book on jokes and standup.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:24 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

How meta would you want to get?
You could get him one of these, and have his name engraved on it. 'Cause, you know, every standup stage has one, but he has his own personal one and...
posted by Thorzdad at 5:28 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin is a good read.
posted by mikepop at 5:30 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'd give money. Unless he's doing really well today, he'll need dough.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:37 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

I hate recommending a book I haven't read, but I've heard very good things about Mike Sack's And Here's The Kicker, and it's been on my to-read list for a while.
posted by yankeefog at 5:42 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Moleskine Reporter notebooks will give him a nice portable place to jot down his jokes as he comes up with them.
posted by Etrigan at 6:04 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I found Howie Mandel's autobiographical book Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me interesting in that it's an exposition of lots of fairly extreme quirks and eccentricities turned to his advantage in his career.
posted by XMLicious at 6:09 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Give him the universal symbol of comedy.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:12 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed the other Jimmy Carr/Lucy Greeves book on jokes: Only Joking.

I did have to source a second-hand copy, though. Not sure if it's available new.
posted by pompomtom at 6:15 AM on June 14, 2012

To add to the book recommendations, I absolutely loved I'm Dying Up Here.
posted by jabes at 6:38 AM on June 14, 2012

My stand-up comic husband loves this little tripod for holding his iPhone or Flip for making videos of his sets. Some clubs will make videos for comics, but they may charge for it. Having recordings of yourself is nice just for self-improvement, but it is also necessary for entering competitions and other things that don't have in-person auditions.

For an iPhone, he would also need this mount. It's actually even still possible to buy a Flip, which makes much better video than your average cellphone.
posted by hydropsyche at 7:00 AM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'd give him two things: a pair of those Groucho Marx plastic glasses with the fake nose and mustache attached, plus cash.

Or maybe a plastic lapel flower/water squirter.....
posted by easily confused at 7:31 AM on June 14, 2012

I'm a dork, so in addition to the "real" present, I'd probably include a $5 gift card for Jo-Ann's Fabrics "...so now you'll always have new material! (ba-dum-dum-CHING)"

Some of the most beloved gifts I have ever given were random pocket-sized good-luck charms, especially for notoriously superstitious people like comics (or sports fans).
posted by argonauta at 7:38 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's an oldie but a goodie, the book I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America's Top Comics is really terrific, plus I'd get him Marc Maron's WTF the First 100 Episodes. Even if he's listening to this podcast he may not have shelled out for the premium package and I'd consider that. They're good interviews with many of the big names in standup and pretty good discussion about the profession, though not comedy themselves.
posted by jessamyn at 7:57 AM on June 14, 2012

A great how-to book: Zen and the Art of Standup Comedy by Jay Sankey

Seconding HydroPsyche's tripod, or if he's serious and you can afford it, a good high quality digital audio recorder with stereo mics -- he could literally record a CD with it, or tape his sets.
posted by msalt at 11:25 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

My first instinct, too, was to say "money", but he might see that as undermine-y or tongue-in-cheek, even if you intend it as a loving, supportive gesture. But if he's the type to take it at face value, the working creatives I know would love money as a gift.

Otherwise, if he doesn't already have one, a Kindle or an e-reader could be a nice present to acknowledge both chapters of his life, and from a practical standpoint would be very handy on the road - working stand ups spend a lot of time alone in restaurants and hotel rooms.

Perhaps pre-loaded with a couple of the book selections above?
posted by superfluousm at 11:48 AM on June 14, 2012

On Comedy, which from first-hand experience the Carson and Seinfeld are excellent "inside baseball" type interviews about the craft of comedy.
posted by rhizome at 11:58 AM on June 14, 2012

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