If I were asked to identify just one aspect of becoming a comedian that could be classified as the most vital and impactful information required for success in stand-up comedy it would be this:
Writing is different than talking — so much so that the two are not effectively interchangeable to get the big laughs you need to move forward as a comedian.
At this point you may be asking yourself “Why is knowing this a game changer?” Here is why…
Writing is a method of communication designed to influence or engage ONE single reader. Only words are available to communicate with that individual reader, requiring 2-3 times the number of words needed for written communication as opposed to talking.
Writing is also a standardized type of communication with rules regarding word use, sentence structure, etc. Again, this is so that any individual reader can consume the written word in a consistent manner.
Talking or speaking is an expressive method of communication designed to influence one or more people live and in person environments.
Far fewer words are needed when speaking to relay any message because of the addition of powerful visual and auditory communication enhancements (body language, facial expressions, voice tone variations, etc.) that are interwoven with the words being used.
Talking is not nearly as “standardized” as writing because of the wide variety of differences involved from person to person when they verbal communicate in an expressive way with others.
If you attempt to “write” jokes or other stand-up comedy material the way you have been taught to write, you tend to be somewhat screwed right from the start because you will have produced material that:
- Has way too much set-up information
- Has too few punchlines that aren’t funny when delivered
- Has no consideration for critical aspects of line length and punchline frequency
Just go to any stand-up comedy open mic night and you will be exposed to comedian after comedian who is trying to deliver their paper written material and flopping magnificently all the way.
Don’t think for one minute that if you go to a stand-up comedy open mic night that the comedians who are sucking (which will be most of them) are lacking talent or smarts.
Most people who have the courage to get up on the stand-up comedy stage have more than enough talent and have plenty of smarts and have probably read two or more of the most common reference books on “writing” stand-up comedy material.
What’s lacking for most new comedians is a solid, effective system for taking their “talking” — the natural way they use their sense of humor effectively in everyday situations — to the stage in a predefined, yet completely organic way that enhances an individual’s comedy talent.
Now to add insult to injury…
Virtually every other stand-up comedy expert (#ad) who has published a book approaches “writing” stand-up comedy material from a “writing perspective” – NOT from a talking live with expression perspective, This does nothing more than exacerbate issues with producing stand-up comedy material that actually gets laughs.
Of interest to note is that I am the only stand-up comedy expert that clearly identifies that you must be able to generate an average of 4-6 laughs every performing minute to move forward as a comedian AND provides the knowledge and tools to structure your stand-up comedy material accordingly.
Just keep this in mind as you move forward in your stand-up comedy adventures…
There are two distinct ways to approach the development and delivery of stand-up comedy material – you can approach it as:
- Primarily a writing exercise that involves some talking or…
- Primarily a talking exercise that involves some writing down and structuring what you want to say
Talking is so much easier than writing. Just keep in mind that writer’s block is very common – talker’s block, not so much. Keep this in mind as well…
You didn’t develop the sense of humor you have — the one that got you into or headed towards becoming a comedian — by having people read what you have written. It was more like you started talking and they started laughing.
Always remember that powerful stand-up comedy is about talking and expression that is designed and developed right from the start to generate an average of 4-6 laughs per minute every performing minute.
As I said from the start and I wasn’t kidding that this is truly game changing information:
Writing is much different than talking. Just don’t think you can substitute writing for talking and be able to produce a tight stand-up comedy routine that generates an average of 4-6 solid laughs each performing minute.
Knowing this small but very significant piece of information could have a noteworthy influence on how you approach the development and delivery of your stand-up comedy material.