All I can say is that the "transition" from audience member (timid wannabe) to active and determined standup comic is fast! It's quick. Quite literally it's at breakneck speed. I think all the difference lies in confidence.
First things first: If you're just starting out, your jokes don't have to be that good. I mean, 'Yes,' eventually you should be able to make the audience laugh on your own merit. But a lot of the hilarity of your jokes lie in your persona. And most, if not all, of your persona lies in your stage presence.
...I've surpassed death...
So let's do the math: Good stage presence --leads to--> easy to translate (i.e. good) persona --which leads to--> funnier jokes. Get it, folks?
It's important to get your original personality out there.
I remember being on the other side of the line thinking, "Oh my god, how do they do it?" And finally, I did it. I got on stage, and I hear a voice introducing me as a standup comic. And then it's over. I've completely transitioned. I'm on the other side of the fence, fully and completely. I've entered a land and crossed a border and the views of which the majority of people will never even dare to venture. It's truly magical.
People now say to me, "I can't believe you do that."
And for a moment in time I couldn't either, but now it's very tangible--very real.
Take a dive.
Seinfeld mentions people would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy. This is a part of his joke about the "Top Two Fears in the World." The biggest fear is public speaking. Second is death.
And I've surpassed death.
It makes me wonder, 'Was I always earmarked for standup comedy?'
Because the moment I receive that mic in my hand, I feel at home. Almost like a rapper, aka emcee.
And how does doing standup comedy in NYC compare to doing standup in any other city?
I wouldn't know. I didn't start out in any other city. But from what I've heard echoed in the streets of the village, most people come to NYC having held title as big fish in their little small town pond. And NYC is the ocean with a ton of once big fish, now genetically dwarfed into little fish. They all hope to crack the formula for the antidote to become big once again.
One thing I have noticed living in NYC is this: You need to be nocturnal to truly experience NY. If you're not, you'll miss out on a large portion of what New York has to offer. If you're a struggling standup comic, you have no choice but to get thrust right into the middle of nocturnal New York. Is that such a bad thing? Trust me. It's to your benefit.