If you managed to find this article because you were interested in information on:
How to write a joke or how to write a stand-up comedy joke…
Let me ask you a question:
Are you trying to figure out how to write something that “reads” funny or are you trying to figure out how to write something that is funny when you express it to an audience?
It’s a very important distinction because “writing” in a way that is designed to be “read” is very different than developing stand-up comedy material that is going to be communicated verbally to generate 4-6+ laughs per minute.
Audiences read books, articles, short stories and greeting cards. They don’t read stand-up comedy material — they experience it as it is delivered.
But let me be more specific when it comes to the significant differences between comedy material that is designed to “read” funny and stand-up comedy material which is delivered and expressed.
Maybe exposure to just these three stark differences between “writing” and communicating verbally will help you understand why “joke writing” in the literal sense as it is taught and perceived today simply DOES NOT WORK for most talented people on the stand-up comedy stage:
1. We are formally taught from a very early age how to “write” in a way that is designed to be “read” by others.
We are not formally taught how to speak or communicate verbally. Subsequently, there are numerous important individual nuances and non-verbal communication aspects that are used when we speak (and that significantly influence laughter response) that simply cannot be expressed in mere words and sentences alone as they are “written” on paper.
2. In writing, we write from the beginning of a sentence to the ending punctuation of that sentence. We don’t have to pause to take a breath when we are reading.
That is not the case when we speak. This is a very important aspect to factor into stand-up comedy material, specifically when it comes to punchline frequency (number of laughs generated per minute).
3. Since writing is restricted to just words and sentences on paper — without the advantage of body language, facial expressions, voice and tone changes to provide words their true context and meaning (as in speaking) — many more words are required to paint the visual picture needed in order to get to the funny part (punchline) of anything that is “written” and designed to be read.
In stand-up comedy, an economy of words is critical. Otherwise the comedian will spend more time talking before punchlines and tag lines which automatically diminishes their effectiveness on stage.
Whether it is “writing” material designed to be read or developing material that is designed to be delivered or expressed, any punchline is ONLY relative (of effective) to the information provided before the punchline.
In other words, it is impossible to study or even generate punchlines without knowing the prior information for which the punchline is dependent.
Unfortunately, most people who are trying to find out how to write a joke are completely unaware of the critical differences between “writing” and speaking/expressing oneself as it relates to laughter generation.
Then, they simply get crushed on the stand-up comedy stage when their paper written jokes flop miserably.
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Here’s the bottom line:
If you are looking for a “one size fits all” approach or method when it comes to learning how to write single jokes one at a time, you will probably have much better luck trying to sneeze with your eyes open.
But don’t take my word it — get your hands on some of these popular books on stand-up comedy and see if you can learn how to write jokes that will actually work for you on stage to generate big laughs.
I couldn’t show you how to write single jokes one at a time if my family was being held hostage — for the very reasons I have identified above.
But I can show you how to easily develop, structure and deliver stand-up comedy material based on your already developed sense of humor and comedy talent without having to struggle through writing jokes one at a time.
Every comedian has complete control over the process they use to develop their stand-up comedy material.
Every comedian also gets to take 100% responsibility when they hit the stage and can’t get the laughs needed to move ahead in stand-up comedy.
I submit to you that if you aren’t getting the laughter results you want with the process that you use to create your stand-up comedy material, you may want to seriously consider looking at using a different process to get the laughter results you want on stage.
Just remember that writing and talking are two very separate and distinct forms of communication. But until a comedian recognizes and capitalizes on the differences between these two different methods of communication…
Well, I guess they are pretty much stuck with somehow trying figure out how to write jokes and not really understanding why they don’t (or won’t) work.