Austan Goolsbee A Funny Stand-up Comedian? Not Even Close…

Noted economist Austan Goolsbee was just appointed to lead the Presidents Counsel of Economic Advisors. In 2009, he was named Funniest Celebrity In Washington.

While Goolsbee may have a great TV presence and is obviously an accomplished and humorous speaking professional…

As far as stand-up comedy goes, it is blatantly clear he can only generate open mic laugh levels.

I found an online video of Austan Goolsbe attempting to perform stand-up comedy at the Washington D.C. Improv earlier in 2010 and decided to do an evaluation of this performance using Comedy Evaluator Pro.

Here’s the video and my comments follow:

Here are my comments:

1. It’s obvious to me that Goolsbee is a seasoned speaker, with great confidence in front of audiences. He is also likable, which makes his stand-up comedy material palatable.

Certainly more polished than this open mic comedian attempting to deliver a really bad lecture at the same comedy club.

2. Goolsbee was performing at a less than 10 PAR Score (average of less than 6 seconds of laughter per minute). This is open mic level stand-up comedy.

Hint: Ritch Shydner in I Am Comic scored higher.

3. The set-ups in this material were extraordinarily long with minimal payoff as evidenced by Comedy Evaluator Pro.

4. I have done enough professional speaking to know that had this presentation been given at a luncheon or other meeting, he would have slayed as the speaker.

This video is a great example of how much less laughter is required to entertain a speaking audience than a stand-up comedy audience.

Related article: The Difference Between Comedy Speeches And Stand-up Comedy

You’ll notice I didn’t get into evaluating the content of the stand-up comedy material delivered by Goolsbee in the video.

That’s because…

In stand-up comedy, it’s about generating headliner level laughs (18+ seconds of laughter per minute), no matter what the content or delivery style may be.

Note: I didn’t set the standards for headliner level performances.

I certainly think Austan Goolsbee has what it takes to slay as a stand-up comedian (peel down those loooooog set-ups!).

But as far as stand-up comedy goes, I think it best that he hold on dearly to that day job. 🙂

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5 Replies to “Austan Goolsbee A Funny Stand-up Comedian? Not Even Close…”

  1. Only in D.C. I can’t believe how much stage time this guy got. If your system could turn this guy into a middler or headliner, I’m positive it can help me become one. Would this type stuff work better in a corporate setting? I don’t have any political jokes and don’t feel they are anywhere near my wheelhouse. Should i devote time to developing a politcal bit? I am interested in going after some corporate x-mas parties so do i need a platform that plays to a more intelligent crowd?

    • I would recommend that any comedian get experience under their belt killing audiences before they try political stand-up comedy material for this reason — it’s very easy to lose half your audience if you don’t have a good feel for what audiences will accept and respond to and what they won’t. It’s tricky ground for sure and as a comedian, you want to be able to earn the respect of every audience member possible to get the maximum laughter response possible.

  2. The information on your website is very helpful. Can you give me information where I can find a list of comedy competitions in several states?

    • Because comedy competitions can come and go, be local or national, have different dates each year, etc., it’s best to find these using a search engine like Google. Hope that helps!