What critical skill set attributes should a comedian possess in order to slay an audience?
By slaying an audience, I am specifically referring to generating 4-6+ quality laughs per minute for an average of 18+ seconds of audience laughter each performing minute.
I would say that the skill set for a comedian would include at least these 5 essential attributes: 1. Knowledge on how to develop and structure stand-up comedy material that is designed to get 4-6+ laughs per minute before it is delivered on stage.
A review of any pro comedian stand-up comedy performance will reveal that they are able to generate an average of 4-6+ quality audience laughs every performing minute. Every comedian is afforded the exact same 60 seconds each minute to generate audience laughter.
Needless to say if a comedian does not know how to tightly structure their stand-up comedy material, they simply won’t get the audience laughs that they need to make any headway.
Note: Outside my online course, I am not aware of any other reference or resource that addresses this issue of structuring stand-up comedy material to get 4-6+ laughs per minute by design right from the start.
However, laughs per minute is NOT the most accurate gauge of a comedian’s performance level. For example, if a comedian gets 6 laughs per minute but each laugh is only 1 second long, then they are not doing well.
A far better indicator of a comedian’s performance level is the average seconds of laughter a comedian can generate. Headline level pro comedians generate an average of 18+ seconds of laughter per minute.
If you have a smartphone then you most likely already have all the tolls (apps) installed already in order to find just how ell you or any other comedian is doing the seconds of laughter per minute department (see #5 below).
2. A thorough understanding of what punchlines really are relative to the comedian and how they are developed in relation to their stand-up comedy material.
There’s no rocket science involved to understand that if a comedian wants to gets 4-6+ audience laughs per minute with their stand-up comedy material, then they need to deliver 4-6+ punchlines per minute.
The difficulty lies in not really knowing what a punchline is (I’m not talking about the standard and worthless definitions of a punchline.)
There is no actionable information in simply knowing that a punchline is the funny part of a joke or that it contains an element of surprise. As a matter of fact…
If you can tell me exactly how knowing the parts of a joke can help you to easily use your sense of humor to produce original stand-up comedy material for audiences, let me know in the comments sections below.
You do realize that you continually produce original stand-up material anytime that you say something that causes laughter to occur, right? Not only that…
Not once did you need to know the parts of any joke to cause laughter to happen when you talk to people that you know and meet.
3. The understanding that most of a comedian’s laughter generation power does not come from the literal words and sentences they use, but rather how they express those words and sentences to an audience.
Unfortunately most new comedians tend to be fixated on “writing” stand-up comedy material in the literal sense without realizing that:
Writing is a form of communication designed to communicate with a reader, not as a visual expression to another person or audience.
Talking is a form of communication that uses multiple communication attributes designed for a listener or and observer and unlike writing engages much more than just words and sentences.
Audiences don’t “read” stand-up comedy material—they experience it as it is delivered by the comedian.
Note: Talking involves less words than writing because their are more communication methods being engaged than just words alone (as in the case with writing).
4. The discipline to rehearse and deliver a solid stand-up act without using notes.
Using notes kills a comedian’s chances of gaining any significant momentum on stage or even worse, a comedian ends up performing stand-up comedy like this unprepared and unprofessional individual did.
It would also be very prudent for a comedian to know the secrets for rehearsing and testing stand-up comedy material for maximum impact — before they ever hit the stage.
5. The discipline to video or audio record each performance and the knowledge on how review each performance for adjustments, edits, improvements, etc.
Here’s the real bottom line:
The laughter a comedian can generate during a performance is the direct result of the process they use to develop and deliver their stand-up comedy material.
If a comedian can’t get the laughs they want when they hit the stage, it means that the process they are using is failing them.
Now that most everyone has a smartphone, it truly only takes a small amount of knowledge to be able to conduct a performance evaluation on your stand-up comedy act (or anyone else’s) in order know objectively where you stand and the parts of your act you need to focus on first.
Every comedian has 100% control over the process they use to develop and deliver their stand-up comedy material.
And if you spend some time reviewing the articles on this blog, you should have a very good understanding as to why “traditional” processes don’t work well if at all to get a comedian the big and frequent audience laughs they need to make headway as a comedian.
If you want to see “traditional” processes in action, you need only sit through several stand-up comedy open mic nights to see the less-than-favorable results most new comedians experience when they get to the stage.
Keep this in mind as you move forward in your research about how to become a comedian:
The goal is ALWAYS to generate headliner level laughter levels for every performance possible — a minimum average of 18+ seconds of laughter for each performing minute (Par Score 30).
Note: A comedian does not have to hold the “title” of headliner in order to be able to generate headliner laughter levels during their performances. But they do need to know precisely what they are doing when it comes to developing and delivering a powerful stand-up comedy routine.
What I have presented in this article are 5 bare bones skill set items every comedian who is after stand-up comedy success must possess, no matter what their delivery “style”, appearance, or content may be. These critical skill set items and much more are an integral part of the education provided by the Killer Stand-up Online Course.
It’s not to hard for me to remember a 2 or 3 minute bit. Putting all my bits together in a smooth flowing set is my major problem. I believe I’m being too much of a perfectionist instead of going through a little trial and error. I’ve been writing like its my thesis paper for school instead of attempting stuff in the real job market. Time to roll up my sleeves and get dirty. I wish i could use a telepromter for my long shows.
That’s why PROPER rehearsal is so critical to being able to roll out new material quickly and effectively.
I pride myself on not taking notes on stage anymore. It forces me to be prepared BEFORE I go on stage and it comes in very handy when I go to the local Funnybone. I’ve gotten 2 impromptu guest spots in which I was ready for.
This article is SCREAMING for an acronym. In order to get your HLLL’s (Headliner Level Laughter Levels) to new heights you must increase your LGP (Laughter Generation Power). Since half the population works in or for the Gummint why not make them feel at home?
P – Personality
R – Record
U – Understanding
D – Deliver
E – Excel
Not exactly what I was looking for but the brain wants what the brain wants.