How do I write funny jokes for a stand-up comedy routine?
And to me, that question is in the same league as this question:
How long is a piece of string?
The reality is this — I couldn’t even begin to tell you how to “write” stand-up jokes in any sort of meaningful way and a big part of that is due to these undeniable facts:
I don’t know you. I have never met you. I don’t know how you look, how you talk, how you express yourself, what points of view you have or [insert extensive laundry list of things that give you the personalized ability to make others laugh when you talk and express yourself in conversation here].
The best analogy that I can give at this juncture is this:
There is no one-size-fits-all shoe that works for all — they come in all shapes, styles and sizes to accommodate the differences in feet that are going to wear them and the reason they are being worn.
Trying to peddle a one-size-fits-all “joke writing” approach is very much like trying to peddle a one-size-fits-all shoe.
There are a whole host of issues associated with attempting to “write” stand-up comedy material using some sort of “standard approach” that is supposed to work for everyone.
But it doesn’t work well, if at all.
But don’t take my word for it at all. Simply suffer through ANY comedy open mic night ANYWHERE in the world (that has stand-up comedy) and you can make your own judgement on just how well that “standard one-size-fits-all approach” works out.
Truth be told, the methodology that I teach is a one-size-fits all approach from a very specific perspective which is:
My approach to creating stand-up comedy material from scratch involves recognizing, structuring and tightly compiling the sense of humor and the way you express that sense of humor as needed to get the laughs you want when you hit the stage.
In other words…
It seems absolutely ludicrous to me to abandon the comedy talent that you have – the comedy talent that TOOK YOU YEARS to develop organically as a result of countless live and in-person exchanges with others – for some sort of “writing” process to try to fabricate “jokes” out of thin air.
Yes, your comedy material SHOULD be written down as that is the visual presentation that you need to edit, refine, tighten, delete or otherwise adjust the comedy material that you want to bring to the stage.
But that’s NOT “writing” in the way most people assume stand-up comedy material is created – using some “literary prose” approach complete with too many words, too much set-up, too many adjectives and adverbs – the aspects that are needed when you write for a READER to consume.
Hint: Talking tends to be much more economical (onstage or offstage) as far as word usage goes because other critical communication elements that replace the additional words needed for a READER to consume written material (specifically — body language, facial expressions, voice inflection and tone variations).
As you continue on your journey to find out how to write stand-up comedy jokes, keep these things in mind:
1. You didn’t develop the comedy talent that you have by exchanging written notes with others – you did it by talking and expressing yourself with others the way you have learned naturally how to do.
And the formula for what your comedy talent is an easy one:
Comedy Talent = Sense of humor + How that sense of humor is expressed
2. What gives you the ability to make others laugh IS NOT restricted to just the words and sentences that you use when you talk.
3. You are not going to have more comedy talent than you have right now. The misconception is that you “acquire” the comedy talent you need to get the audience laughs you want.
More reference points, experiences, observations, etc. — yes, you will have many more of those. The comedy talent needed to connect these dots and turn them into laughs – nope, you have that already.
The reality is that if you want to get the laughs you want when you hit the stage, you need to be prepared to use the ALL the comedy talent you already have in a way that has been refined, honed and tightly “packaged” for audience consumption.
But again – don’t take my word for it. Head over to your friendly neighborhood comedy open mic night and see for yourself if any of what I am presenting here is valid or not.
If I had advice to give it would be this:
- Question what you know (or think you know) about how stand-up comedy material is developed for the stage (including information provided on this blog).
- Don’t abandon that which you can see for yourself, discover for yourself or already know about creating stand-up comedy material (you know more than you think you do) that will WORK FOR YOU based on the comedy talent that you have already developed.
- Know (and have confidence in) what you are doing at every stage in the development of your comedy material and professionally prepare to deliver that material so that you can reap the best possible laughter results when you hit the stage.
If you have gotten this far, hopefully you can understand why I simply can’t tell you how to “write” stand-up comedy “jokes” with some sort of “standard” one-size-fits-all “writing” approach – there’s way too much missing information about you and how you “roll” to even begin.