Asides. Those bits where you interrupt yourself mid-song to deliver a bit of talking - for example, to compliment an audience member’s eyebrows, or add an extra anecdote (or a little remark inside aural parentheses). These are golden moments.
Don’t ‘aside’ for too long, or the audience will think the song has finished and will start clapping, then you have to admonish them for their premature ovation.
Pauses. A well-timed pause is a beautiful thing and should be nurtured. Especially those pauses while you wait for the crowd to all come to a consensus on what they just heard - it’s a slow ripple of understanding and it’s very nice.
Don’t pause for too long or too often. I have seen comedians (musical and ‘normal’) absolutely kill with a pause, but also die horribly. It’s a risky, and is a bit like gambling, so you’ll find a lot of them, particularly a few ‘edgy’ male ones, doing it far too much just for thrills.
Facial expressions. Even if the audience has no idea what you’re singing about due to nonsensical content, a dodgy impression or an awful microphone, pulling a funny face at the right moment can save it.
It’s not at all about how ‘good’ your singing voice is. Some of the best and cleverest musical comedians have the vocal equivalent of a ‘face for radio’. Not me, by the way. I’m in a choir. My voice was recently described as ‘creamy’ by a sound technician. I’ll take that.
In a comedy context, an Aguilera-style run can become an excellent joke. The longer and more convoluted the better. Incidentally, that’s also how I like my puns. And my eggs in the morning.
Experiment with musical genres, parodies, accents and impressions - these add to the layers of humour and impress the crowd. Doing songs as different characters also helps add variety to a set. All my songs are about the same thing (artists), so this is very important for me.
You don’t have to write about yourself or your love life. Your real life may be fascinating and hilarious. Mine is not, so I don’t go into it, unless I find out someone in the audience is from where I’m from, or some such coincidence, whereupon I will make a couple of excellent jokes about Surrey. Write songs about interesting or strange things, and take the audience on a journey through song. A journey away from Surrey, if at all possible.
Lean in, guys, this is the biggest secret top tip of them all. Human beings in Western society are pre-programmed to applaud when live music stops. In a comedy context, applause is extremely sought-after, and relatively rare to receive, so if you want some guaranteed hand-noise, become a musical comedian.
Harriet Braine's debut solo Edinburgh Fringe show, 'Total Eclipse of the Art', will be at the Laughing Horse @ The Golf Tavern, 4-27 August (not 14) at 1.15pm, for more information go to https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/harriet-braine-total-eclipse-of-the-art