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You will hear this over and over again about stand-up comedy:
“It’s all in the delivery.”
There’s a great measure of truth in that statement.
While not all, most of a stand-up comedian’s ability to generate noteworthy laughs lies squarely in how a comedian delivers their comedy material.
Before I move on with a discussion about delivery, let me say this:
Powerful stand-up comedy that generates big audience laughs is an effective combination of what a comedian wants to say and how that comedian wants to say it.
Put another way:
While a comedian’s delivery provides a comedian with the lion share of laughter power in front of an audience, there is no benefit to the comedian with a great delivery if their stand-up comedy material is not funny.
Likewise, really funny stand-up comedy material can flop worse than a fish out of water if the delivery is poor.
One of the questions that new comedian’s have is:
How do you find your delivery style as a comedian in stand-up comedy?
To that I would reply:
If you are a naturally funny person in everyday life, you don’t “find” your delivery style because you basically already have it.
Not only do you basically already have it, but you can end up abandoning the unique sense of humor and the already developed comedy talent you have if you start trying to “find” your delivery style instead of realizing that you basically have it already.
Unfortunately many new comedians will not recognize this and will end up:
1. Trying to do their impression of what they think a real comedian should say and deliver their material. This what I did and the results were less than favorable in the laugh department.
2. Or they try to fabricate some sort of special “character” with a special delivery “style” that will increase their chances of getting big laughs on stage. This overwhelmingly tends to flop as well.
Let me cut right to the chase:
Reflect back on the last time you with someone else or a group of family and friends and you said something that caused them to laugh. What happened?
Here’s what happened:
You generated laughter by saying what you wanted to say and by how you said it.
Sounds strangely like something I said earlier about stand-up comedy. 🙂
Granted, there are some very important differences between yucking it up with friends and family and performing for an audience as a comedian.
In stand-up comedy you need to know what you are going to say in a much more defined, refined and calculated way in order to generate 4-6+ quality laughs from the beginning to end of your performance.
But the important point is this…
You already have the best basic “delivery style” you are ever going to have as a comedian if you know how to use it and you are not afraid to use it.
Are you aware that:
1. Psychologists will tell you that by the time a person is 16 years old, they have the foundational sense of humor and personality they are going to have for the remainder of their lives.
In other words, you already have a natural delivery “style” that works in tandem with your sense of humor and comedy talent to generate laughs in everyday conversations — and you have had it since you were a teenager.
2. The baseline comedy mechanics that are used in everyday life to generate laughter in casual conversations are EXACTLY the same as those used on the stand-up comedy stage.
As mentioned before there are some important differences. There is a lot to know (but it’s easy) about developing and delivering a powerful stand-up comedy act — especially if you want to do it quickly.
3. Your ability to cause people to laugh in everyday life is a combination of “formulas” (for lack of a better term) that you have developed during your life that are specific to you, your sense of humor, and your unique way of expressing what you have to say (your delivery style).
Note: You DO NOT need to know what your own unique laughter “formulas” are specifically — you just need to know that they exist, making sure that you don’t abandon what makes you funny in everyday life when trying to produce stand-up comedy material.
Here’s a video from my own stand-up comedy routine — don’t miss my notes below the video regarding “delivery style”:
What you see in that video is not some sort of made up or fabricated “delivery style” for the stage.
What you see is me talking about something I like to talk about (strange and unusual news stories) in a way that is natural for me and capitalizes on my sense of humor and natural expressive traits (or delivery style).
I’m not doing some sort of “manufactured” character on stage to get the laughs in the video above. What you see is me being myself — in a way that is developed specifically for the stand-up comedy stage.
Note: I almost quit stand-up comedy after 9 months, in part due to the inability of being able to “find” a delivery style and a “special” character for the stand-up comedy stage that would work for me. Fortunately, I discovered that I actually didn’t need to “find” anything and went on to some rapid success.
The Bottom Line
Individuals who set out to “find” a delivery style for the stand-up comedy stage either don’t have comedy talent at all, or they are under the false impression that they need to “find” some sort of “special” delivery style for their stand-up comedy ventures.
And the second someone starts looking for a specific delivery style, they end up discounting or discarding the sense of humor and comedy talent they already have.
Unfortunately, many of the popular books on stand-up comedy hit upon the notion of developing this “special” character or delivery style comedians need, yet not one of those books can tell you how to do it. Odd, huh?
All I’m telling you is that if you have real comedy talent, you do not need to “find” a delivery style (or a “special” character for that matter).
What you DO need is the knowledge to develop, structure and capitalize on your own unique sense of humor and comedy talent — right from the start of the comedy material development process.
That’s one of the reasons why these folks were able to quickly develop big laugh stand-up comedy material.