Even the most practiced comedians need a moment or two to themselves before they take the stage to make audiences laugh. Here are the pre-show rituals of eight famous comedians.
1. LOUIS C.K. // SILENCE
“I try not to talk to people before I go on stage,” Louis C.K. told Laughspin. “Sometimes I’ll sit in the back of the club while the other comedians are on. But I’m not watching him; I’m watching the crowd and feeling the room. I get antsy. I don’t like waiting to go on stage. I get very anxious and it’s just uncomfortable. I learned that it’s important to seize on that instead of running away from it. So I stay in the back and bottle up the energy so that when I go on stage I’m more connected.”
2. KEVIN HART // RALLY CRY
Kevin Hart prides himself on his work ethic. He always reminds himself of his hard work and determination before he takes the stage. Hart huddles up his group of friends into a circle and leads the group in a rallying cry before every performance. He yells, “Everybody wanna be famous,” while his friends scream back, “But nobody wanna put the work in!”
3. SARAH SILVERMAN // SUGAR-FREE RED BULL
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Trevor Project
Sarah Silverman’s pre-show ritual varies from performance to performance, but she likes to drink a sugar-free Red Bull before going on stage. “I got to the hotel, went on Google Maps and looked up the nearest vegetarian place,” Silverman told Schmooze Magazine in 2008. “I ordered and picked it up in a cab. Then I took a bath; I like to take a nice little soak ... I had my Diet Red Bull.”
A few years later, in 2013, Silverman changed up her routine, but still kept the Red Bull ritual going. “I write out a set list and yell at myself for waiting until the last minute. And I have a sugar-free Red Bull,” she told PrideSource.com.
4. AZIZ ANSARI // SPICY CHICKEN
Although his manner is easygoing, Aziz Ansari is extremely detailed when it comes to honing his skills as a standup comedian. According to a profile on Ansari in The New Yorker, he studies his past shows to try to find ways to make it better. “Ansari records each of his performances, and he usually listens to the last one right before the next one, taking note of which interjections are worth repeating,” wrote Kelefa Sanneh. And when he’s in Nashville, he likes to eat chicken from Prince's Hot Chicken Shack.
5. ELLEN DEGENERES // MINTS
Before each performance, Ellen DeGeneres likes to get her blood flowing with a few stretches—and she likes to smell good. "I like to shower. I like to shower first and comb my hair," she told E! News before hosting the Oscars in 2014. "I like to smell good. I'll put something that smells good on. My breath, I like to do a mint of some sort. And I'll do a couple of sit-ups and push-ups. That's what I do. And I stretch."
In addition, DeGeneres throws a mint in the air and catches it in her mouth before beginning her monologue during every episode of her daytime talk show, Ellen.
6. CHRIS ROCK // PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC
Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Comedy Central
Before he takes the stage, Chris Rock likes to listen to Parliament Funkadelic. He also gets his energy up by drinking Mountain Dew and doing hundreds of jumping jacks backstage.
7. CAMERON ESPOSITO // WRITING
While some standup comedians take great strides to meticulously craft their acts and performances, Cameron Esposito sits at the bar and furiously writes her set list before every show. “What’s cool about comedy is you can think about it like music,” Esposito explained. “Once you’ve developed the specific joke, that joke will have a one- or two-word name, just like a song. Before a band goes up, they write down the songs they’re planning on doing in a specific order. Comics do the same thing.”
8. DANE COOK // A BANANA
Dane Cook doesn’t need much to warm up before he takes the stage. While he doesn’t have a formal pre-show ritual, he has to have a banana before every performance. “I just always have to get potassium. I have to eat a banana, and that's about it,” he told The University of South Florida's student newspaper. “No pre-show rituals. Just a little potassium, and let's do this—where's the mike?”