Recently I did a search for “find new comedy material for stand-up comedy” and one of the listings on the first page of the search results was for the 50 Best Stand-Up Comedy Tips.
Before I discuss anything about that website, please note that I have a primary edict that I stand by as it relates to information found online related to the creation and development of a stand-up comedy routine which is this:
Most of the information made available online by comedy “experts” tends to make the process of developing a stand-up comedy routine far more complicated and far more difficult than it needs to be.
The primary reason for this is that the information provided is largely not actionable in a meaningful way and/or it is descriptive at best.
Let me give you an example of this from the website in question, keeping in mind that I am going to apply the same type of questioning in this article that is provided in my special report The Stand-up Secret That No One Else Will Tell You.
I gave 50 Best Stand-up Tips a look and the VERY FIRST tip is this:
PICK A POINT OF VIEW (POV)
Comedians that do not have a defined point of view aren’t interesting to audience members. They’re just talking about “stuff.” Don’t be afraid to find your authentic point of view and stand behind it.
More likely than not, the audience will identify with your crazy reaction to a situation and you’ll end up creating a strong rapport with the audience and getting some huge laughs at the same time. POV isn’t a place where you want to “air on the side of caution.”
If you double down on anything… make it your POV.
Since this is the first stand-up comedy tip of 50, I am going to assume that the author felt it was most important.
Fortunately for me, it is a perfect example of descriptive, academic information that is either not easily actionable or not actionable at all.
Let’s start with this question:
When you are talking with others that you know or meet in everyday life and you cause them to laugh from something you said, how EXACTLY did you “pick” the point of view that you were going to use to get the laughs that you got?
Note: If you did not read the special report, then you will most likely assume that stand-up comedy is vastly different than causing friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances to laugh. Let me assure that it IS NOT contrary to popular belief.
The reality is that you don’t stop to “pick” a point of view when you make people laugh in a casual conversation — your point of view emerges naturally based on whatever was being talked about that activated your sense of humor.
And whatever those points of view were, they were based on years of collected data points, experiences, observations, recognizing similarities and differences between things that are related and unrelated, and on and on which formed your POV organically, with little effort.
To put it simply, without having to “pick” anything your brain worked on its own like a supercomputer to provide automatically whatever it was that you said and expressed that caused laughter to happen.
So why can’t you do the same thing with stand-up comedy material — by starting with things that activate your sense of humor and allows your POV on those things to occur naturally?
I say that absolutely you can.
I say that the comedy talent that you have developed and use effortlessly offstage is the EXACT same comedy talent that you want to use onstage in a more premeditated and structured way.
The new comedians who are just “talking about stuff” and not getting laughs is because:
- They tried to pluck what to say to an audience from thin air.
- They tried to “pick” (aka fabricate) a POV for something that doesn’t actually activate their sense of humor in the firs place.
- They tried to make up some sort of “unexpected twist” in their punchlines.
Then they step off stage in amazement as to why they couldn’t get any laughs and the audience just sat there like they were having a collective and overwhelming bout of severe constipation.
I suppose you could be given a laundry list of POV’s to choose from to apply to your stand-up comedy material.
Would that give you the edge that you need to develop stand-up material that actually gets audience laughs?
I’m going to say absolutely not. As a matter of fact, that brings me to another question which is:
How EXACTLY would you go about “picking” any sort of POV with confidence that it will give you the laughter results that you want?
Is there a crystal ball involved? Tarot cards? Some sort of telepathic scanning of the audience members beforehand because you were able to travel back in time in order to know who they are individually and what they think is funny?
I am asking because…
You don’t stop to “pick” the POV or joke formula you are going to use when you say something that makes other people laugh.
Other people who make you laugh don’t stop and “pick” which POV and joke formula they are going to use beforehand.
And interestingly enough, there’s also no contemplation as to whether or not one needs to “air on the side of caution” or not either.
So why EXACTLY do you need to “pick” a POV in the first place — even double down on this most important aspect of a stand-up routine as the author of that fine website suggests?
Well, here’s why…
Because this sort of so-called “valuable intel” is rehashed in any number of ways from any variety of comedy “experts” and Dunning-Kruger effect sufferers over and over again as the “easier way” to do things when there’s nothing easily actionable involved with doing that in any capacity.
But there is power in numbers when it comes to sharing of information, especially from a position of authority — even ineffectual information or misinformation is involved because if “everyone” is saying basically the same thing, then it must be true, right?
And everyone knows that almost everything online is true (bwahahahahah!).
Now there is a more subtle and implied message provided in the “you need to pick a POV” message provided by that author that strikes a negative cord with me which is this:
Whatever POV you use to get laughs when you talk to others offstage IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH for use on stage.
Otherwise you wouldn’t need to “pick” a POV from thin air that will help you somehow “connect” with an audience.
So the question you might want to ask yourself is this:
Why aren’t my own naturally generated points of view that I don’t have to guess anything about and that do generate laughs offstage good enough for inclusion in my stand-up material?
Here’s what you can easily do to see just how well the whole “pick a point of view”, “use a joke formula”, “determine the unexpected twist in your punchlines”, etc. approach to stand-up comedy works:
Just sit though ANY stand-up comedy open mic and count the number of people who can’t get laughs.
I will bet my house that the ones who aren’t winging it are “picking” the topics, the POVs, the joke formulas and any number of other things that involve guessing what may or may not work to get laughs.
What matters most is this:
If the “pick a POV” approach works for you and gets you the laughs that you want — run with it full speed.
But from my professional perspective, this “pick a POV” approach relates to this fact if you can get the connection:
A person DOES NOT need to know one scrap of information about how a car is constructed, combusts fuel, provides air conditioning, how the electrical system works, how to change a tire, etc. in order to drive one with great confidence.
If you did, it would be a very long and painful process before anyone would be able to drive a car.
My professional perspective on creating and developing a stand-up routine is based on these foundational things:
- Everyone has a measure of comedy talent and some have more than others.
- Your sense of humor and related comedy talent is the result of a highly complex process developed over YEARS, but you don’t need to know any details about that specific process, how it was developed or how it works in order to use it effectively to generate laughter as a comedian.
- The sense of humor that you use offstage is EXACTLY the same sense of humor you want to use onstage which has NOTHING to do with trying to “pick a POV” (which is a professional way of saying “guessing”).
- What you do in everyday life to make others laugh when you talk and express yourself is not only good enough, it is EXACTLY what you want to do onstage if you want to get laughs but in a more structured and premeditated way.
- You literally produce HOURS of PROVEN stand-up comedy material in casual conversations every year, much of which (not all) could be easily used as stand-up material on stage if you know how to harvest it.
What the “pick a POV” approach does more than anything (as well as the rest of the “conventional” approach to developing a stand-up routine) is that it causes people to immediately doubt themselves, their comedic abilities and causes them to abandon their sense of humor and the related comedy talent that they have developed and have been using for years to get laughs when they talk to others.
I now find it quite fascinating that the offstage comedy talent that a person has and is usually the basis for taking a shot at stand-up in the first place does not even get a seat at the table among the “conventional” information provided by the “experts”.
It is not my place to tell anyone what to think.
But I recommend that you don’t believe anything until you have questioned it for yourself. The types of questions that you may want to ask are provided in this article and can also be found in the special report that I have been referring to.
One last thing…
If you use search terms like “find new comedy material for stand-up comedy”, what you find is mostly information that steers you away from what actually makes you a funny person and drives you towards some sort of “joke writing process” approach which is as far from organic as you can get.