Yes, You Can Tell Stories As A Comedian

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yes2One of the more recognizable so-called comedy “experts” has made it a point to say that if you are telling stories as a comedian, you aren’t doing stand-up comedy.

That is 100% false.

Obviously, this particular comedy “expert” has never heard of or listened to some popular and hilarious story telling comedians like:

[one_half]- Bill Cosby
– Tim Allen
– Bill Hicks
– Paula Poundstone
– Jeff Foxworthy[/one_half][one_half_last]- Ron White
– Katt Williams
– Bill Engvall
– Eddie Izzard
– Gabriel Iglesias[/one_half_last][divider]

And the growing list goes on and on.

In my own stand-up comedy material, if I hadn’t have been able to tell stories, I would have probably had less than 5 minutes of comedy material.

Here’s the deal with telling stories as a comedian:

1. You must still be able to generate 4-6 laughs per minute, which means your stories must be structured to deliver 4-6 punchlines per minute.

Otherwise, you will be giving a lecture.

2. To deliver headliner level material, you must be able to generate a minimum of 18 seconds of laughter per performing minute.

Story telling comedians will ALWAYS have a big advantage over joke telling comedians because of this one simple fact:

The longer you can stay on a single topic (which telling a story allows you to do), the set-up needed to get the laughs is greatly reduced.

In other words…

Once you are on a topic and have set it up properly, the audience already knows what you are talking about — so you can spend more time getting to the “meat” of the issue or topic (which also means getting more laughs).

It’s also far easier to generate a substantial quantity of stand-up comedy material to work with on any give topic, subject, experience, etc.

Topic based stand-up comedy material also tends to be far more personalized than with the production of individual jokes, making it more difficult for another comedian to steal.

But like I said earlier, the goal is to generate 4-6 quality laughs per performing minute no matter what type of stand-up comedy material they deliver.

It is at that level that comedians really begins to draw attention to themselves and their comedy talent and are afforded bigger and better performing opportunities.

Early in my stand-up comedy career I got to see two particular comedians who were on the same ticket — Steve Kelly (feature act) and Bill Engvall (headliner).

Steve Kelly is a joke telling comedian and very effective at it, delivering one single “joke” after another. And he did generate good laughs during his show.

But when Bill Engvall who is a story telling comedian hit the stage, the difference in the audience laughter generated was like night day.

The audience was laughing so hard and so frequently that they could barely catch their breath. Collectively, they were waving back and forth like wheat in the wind because of the laughter levels generated.

My sides were sore for a couple of days from that show because I had laughed so hard myself.

So when it comes to laughter generation, it is very hard to get bigger and more frequent laughs on stage than with topic based stand-up comedy material that is properly structured to get maximum audience laughs every minute.

That’s what the Killer Stand-up Online Course is all about — topic based comedy material development.

Joke telling comedians have to constantly set-up each new joke, premise, concept, idea or set of jokes, making it much more difficult to “get on a roll” with an audience.

Not to mention that developing “jokes” one at a time is far more difficult as well.

So, yes you can tell stories on stage as a comedian. And if any so-called comedy “expert” says you can’t…

Cover your wallet — you are about to be scammed.

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 “Yes, You Can Tell Stories As A Comedian

  1. The secret to storytelling (at least for me) is the shorter the setup the better. They need to start laughing from the beginning. The preacher in me is not shortwinded. I can take awhile to setup where I sm going. But in comedy, words need to be at premium. Every phrase I say that is classified as a S (that doesn’t get a laugh), makes the goal of 4-6+ laughs a minute harder to reach!

  2. Being new to stand up, most of my material is drawn from my past. First, I would write/say the story, then edit it down to the important facts. Put them in bullet point form and derive jokes/punchlines from each bullet point. I would keep in mind any tangent sub stories I could derive from each bullet point but then go back and try to tell the story with joke/punchlines inserted. Also I would keep in mind if I could tell the story from an unusual point of view, i.e. from the dog point of view or the car POV.

    • Your comment is right on the mark! Structure is the key to being able to say what you want to say AND get the punchline frequency you need to slay an audience.

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