If you consider yourself a naturally funny person and you are considering using that gift professionally, you might want to pay close attention to the information that I am about to share with you when it comes to generating audience laughter.
Just a couple of important things before I move forward…
The chances are extremely high you already have a perspective about professional comedy that is very limited in scope and actually provides very limited opportunity for real success.
Let me define success specifically so that there is no doubt in what I am talking about:
Success in the context intended in this article means having the ability to speak to an audience — any audience in any venue, speaking or performing — and cause them to laugh on demand at a noteworthy level.
When you can do this — opportunities will come to you.
So here is the basic blueprint for the absolute fastest path possible for entertaining audiences with laughter
Step 1: Situational Awareness
The first order of business is to become acutely aware that you have already been producing comedy material (you can call it stand-up material if you prefer) any time you have made others genuinely laugh.
Let me take that a step further…
You have been generating laughter on demand your entire life from small audiences (known as friends, family, coworkers, classmates, etc.) with little, if any premeditation involved in the process.
This laughter was generated from comedy material that you crafted and delivered spontaneously with little if any forethought. And this comedy material was presented in a way that was unique to you and the way you express yourself to others (which is a HUGE reason why your comedy works for you).
You also need to be acutely aware that when others around you generate laughter from something they say and express, they too are using highly specialized and personalized comedy skills.
In other words…
Everyone else that you associate with is also producing comedy material that could potentially be used by you to generate audience laughter.
There’s a Special Report that covers this in detail if what I am telling you resonates with you in any way.
Unfortunately, most people wanting to be funny on a pro level have been effectively brainwashed to believe that spoken word comedy is the result of great “writing” (which I personally bought hook, line and sinker myself when I started).
Now if you are one of those folks who is stuck on “writing” comedy, then you should be able to easily answer this question:
Name the 3 most significant writing events that shaped your sense of humor and your ability to make others laugh when you talk.
If you need a day two on that one, I completely understand.
Or you can go ahead and realize that there were NO writing events in your life that gave you the ability to generate laughter from others as a result of TALKING and PHYSICAL EXPRESSION, not writing.
But if traditional “writing” is the “key” to being funny for audiences, you may want to save yourself some time and locate other resources that meet whatever vision for success that you have.
I say that because I already know that you will be disappointed (if you aren’t already) with what I have for you if you continue on with this article.
With that said…
If you can come to grips with the FACT that you and the people you associate with on daily basis are constantly producing high level comedy material — a good portion of which will be great for audiences — then you will also realize that you can quickly and easily have more comedy material than you can test or use in a professional setting.
This puts you completely in the drivers seat, allowing you plenty of content to pick and choose from when it comes to what you want to share with an audience — from material that has actually already been tested and proven to generate laughs.
In the military this would be called having situational awareness.
I strongly recommend that you develop a situational awareness when laughter happens around you — especially when it comes to the comedy content that you can use for audiences, no matter whether it is you or someone in your group making the laughter happen.
Step 2: Expand The Application Of Your Ability
If you understand that what you (and the people you hang out with, work with and associate with) have been producing and delivering is highly personalized stand-up comedy material on the fly every time laughter occurs…
You should also be able to understand that virtually ANY audience is suitable for what you have to say.
In other words, you are not restricted to just comedy club type audiences and performances.
Hint: It can be difficult to distinguish between funny speaking professionals and stand-up comedians as far as laughter generation goes. But the money for speaking far exceeds what typical stand-up comedians make.
Check out this article on my Say It Funny blog geared towards speaking professionals with a side-by-side comparison of a renowned funny public speaker and renowned comedian.
Just keep this in mind at all times:
All spoken word comedy works functionally the same way in any environment on stage or off stage.
So it seems to me that the most prudent approach to taking comedy skills to a professional level would be to have the ability to talk to and entertain ANY audience in ANY environment, whether it be in friend’s living room, a hotel meeting room or local tavern.
Hint: Your social activities can be a great way to try out comedy material that was generated from previous conversations with different people or groups.
Unfortunately, many folks who want to entertain audiences professionally get stuck in a “stand-up comedy audiences only” situation that severely limits the professional possibilities for the funny people in question.
Step 3: Understand Audience Expectations
If you are serious about taking your sense of humor and already developed comedy talent to a professional level, then you need to be very aware of what will make you a hero for the audiences that you want to entertain.
Public speaking is public speaking no matter how many laughs are generated as a result. Stand-up comedy is a highly specialized form of public speaking that has these noteworthy characteristics:
1. A stand-up comedy audience has completely different expectations as far as laughter frequency goes than for a public speaking audience.
2. A stand-up routine historically demands a higher rate of laughter per minute than any other type of public speaking.
3. A stand-up routine does not have any sort of required message or moral, information, substance or teaching topic as most public speaking engagements tend to have.
What is most interesting is that it is far easier and pays far more money overall to be a speaker who can entertain an audience at half the level of a headliner comedian and make far more money in the process. In other words…
It takes far less to be a hero for public speaking audiences because expectations for noteworthy laughter entertainment value are usually low to very low.
Simply reflect on every boring lecture or talk that you have attended, no how accomplished or famous the speaker may have been.
I want to wrap this article up with some additional information that may be useful:
1. There is NO difference in the laughter generation process for a stand-up comedian or a funny public speaker.
What is different is with public speaking there’s the inclusion of something that is not funny nor is it necessarily supposed to be — the message, the moral, the inspiration, the lesson, etc. Stand-up comedy doesn’t usually have this and if it does, it is bonus — not a requirement.
In public speaking, there are only two ways to generate audience laughs with original spoken word comedy material:
- Your primary content either activates your sense of humor or…
- You inject supplemental content that activates your sense of humor.
Hint: Trying to make something funny that does not actually trigger or engage your sense of humor is the fast path to flopping in front of an audience.
2. You have complete control of how much laughter you generate with any audience — no matter what you are talking about.
For almost 5 years I taught 8 hour “Comedy Traffic School” classes on weeknights and weekends. Once I learned the required material that needed to be taught, I was then able to turn each session into a beginning to end comedy event.
I use this for an example because as a general rule there’s not much funny about learning traffic rules for hours on end. But what did I do?
I used my sense of humor with all the goofy traffic school stuff (from my perspective) and added additional stuff that I could react to using my sense of humor. Also, for these sorts of lengthy classes I would regularly “drift off topic” and that’s how I developed much of my comedy material that wasn’t driving related.
So I literally got paid to develop my stand-up comedy material, bypassed the horrid comedy open mic situation and quickly ended up making more money part time with my comedy than local full time stand-up “headliners” were making — but I was performing at corporate comedy gigs and speaking engagements that the majority of other comedians could not do (too adult).
And that’s because the comedy material that I was developing was for ANY audience, not just a drinking comedy club crowd.
It really just boils down to some simple business basics — the wider the audience that you can entertain, the greater the opportunities to entertain those audiences.
3. You are the product of what you believe comedy to be, whether it is true or not.
I say this over and over again on this blog — if you haven’t been to a comedy open mic night, go asap. That way you can see for yourself just how well the “conventional” methodologies DO NOT WORK for most who attempt them.
Please note that I have nothing to sell you in this article. That’s because if you can’t actually understand what I have presented here, I don’t really have anything of value to offer you.
You’ll need to take the path most travelled and suck for months or years trying tp “write” your way to being professionally funny, just like all the so-called comedy experts tell you to do. If you think that’s harsh…
What is harsh is standing before an audience expecting you to be funny and you are not even close.