The Difference Between Stand-up Comedy Mechanics And Being “Mechanical” On Stage

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I am a firm believer that one of the real keys to becoming a high impact comedian or speaker starts with really understanding what it is you do in the first place when you make someone laugh in very ordinary, everyday situations.

Unfortunately, I also know that most people are looking for that “mechanical” or robotic means for generating big laughs on stage.

And not just mechanical, but that “special mechanical” process that makes one super funny for audiences with little on no effort.

In other words…

If you can somehow learn to put Peg A into Slot B and then somehow, as if by magic, tremendous laughter will occur from an audience.

Then, low and behold…

People are shattered when the “put Peg A into Slot B” approach doesn’t work.

But oddly enough, they do it over and over again, working like a rat in a wheel, trying reach that morsel of food that is always just out of reach.

Know this — there is a huge difference between understanding comedy “mechanics” and being “mechanical” when it comes to producing and delivering stand-up comedy material that actually works.

Let me explain exactly what I am talking about and give you some questions to answer for yourself…

Being “mechanical” in the realm of comedy means “doing” without real understanding.

Understanding and applying “mechanics” means really understanding what it is you do to cause laughter to happen and applying that information to get real and measurable results.

I started out my own comedy career trying to work in a very “mechanical” way…

  • “Write” set-ups
  • “Write” punchlines
  • Make it “read” funny on paper

Why did I do that?

Because virtually every single book, course or workshop on stand-up comedy promotes a very mechanical “put Peg A into Slot B” approach.

I know this first hand because when I started stand-up comedy (for the second time), I studied all the books.

I took stand-up comedy workshops.

I tried to “write” joke after joke that was going to give me the big laughs I wanted.

And the reality was…

I still had no idea how to use my own sense of humor on stage. And I was literally inches away from quitting stand-up comedy altogether because…

I couldn’t make any significant progress using the “mechanical” approach.

It wasn’t until I figured out the real mechanics of stand-up comedy for myself that I had the success on stage most comedians only dream about.

I don’t really have a specific stand-up comedy tip for this article, just some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Do you understand what it is that you do in everyday life that causes laughter to happen among people you meet and associate with?
  • Are you still expecting your comedy material to “read” funny from a piece of paper in order to work?
  • Do you know how to effectively prepare to get big laughs BEFORE you get on stage?
  • When you are standing in front of an audience, are you just mouthing paper written jokes or are you expressing yourself in a deliberate way that is natural for you?
  • Are you trying to “force” funny on your audience? Are you trying to “joke” your audience into laughing?
  • Even if you make a recording of your stand-up comedy set, do you know what to look for to improve in order to get better results on your next performance?
  • How long are you going to suck on stage before you do something that is not “mechanical”? A month? A year? Five years?

Answer those questions for yourself and you will understand why comedians at all levels struggle at a high level when it really doesn’t have to be that way.

Or you can just keep doing that “mechanical” thing, which is NOT what the Killer Stand-up Online Course is about.

The choice (and the results you get) is 100% yours.

About 

Leading stand-up comedy educator and trainer, providing proven 21st century strategies and techniques for individuals who wish to become comedians on a professional level. For a detailed stand-up comedy resume go to: Steve Roye's Stand-up Resume.

3 thoughts on “The Difference Between Stand-up Comedy Mechanics And Being “Mechanical” On Stage

  1. Im not sure im understanding “mechanical.” I thought the economic adviser sample was too mechanical. Is it too few physical movements? Not shifting focus to all parts of the room? Seeming like you are reading and not telling? Could you possibly add a video of a “classic mechanical” delivery? Thanks.

    • Mechanical — just mouthing the words without the body language alignment needed for the material to be accepted by an audience as genuine. Audiences are smart and know when comedy material is simply being recited to them. That’s what mechanical means.

    • I could equate it to several things, but it’s all about knowing the components. Stand-up is a fight, if you expect to simply go into it and throw the punches you learned and it’s going to win you the match, you’ll lose. You have to take your opponent into account, learn to defend, strike and bounce back when they get hits in (hecklers, boos, and the dreaded SILENCE!). Basically, mechanics are the components that make a joke funny, but using the components does not a funny joke make. Take the fighting analogy, again. If you throw punches in a boxing match, you’ve used the mechanics of boxing and are a boxer, but if you throw punches in line, at the grocery store, you’re an asshole and that old woman’s family might sue.

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