Quote: Steve Sunshine @ February 19 2012, 1:28 AM GMT
Start with a strong joke that's funny & won't alienate people
The first 10 seconds of your act are the most important, don't waste them asking how everyone is or any other pointless questions, just say "Good evening" or "Hello" and then hit them with one of your funniest jokes, a gag that appeals to the widest possible audience.
If you have "darker" material build up to it, don't do it right at the beginning as you will lose a lot of the audience, especially is you come across as someone who is trying to shock for the sake of it.
Watch Gary Delaney, he's a master of building up to darker material, by the end of his set he is getting away with some quite outrageous stuff because he has built up the audiences trust, they like him and are will to go with him.
The only time you will get away with starting with a dark joke is if you get a reputation as a "Frankie Boyle" type act and that's what people are coming to see you for (i.e. you are a massive name and touring on your own).