One of things almost every comedian wants to know, no matter what level they may be at is:
“Is there any way to know if my stand-up material will work before I deliver it on stage?”
That is a very difficult question to answer with a simple yes-or-no answer because there are a number of very important variables that must be considered in order to provide a meaningful response.
So here’s what I am going to do in this article:
First, I am going to present just 5 important variables that you must consider when trying to determine if your stand-up comedy material is funny before you deliver it to an audience.
Then, I am going to directly answer this question to the best of my ability:
“Is there any way to know if my stand-up comedy material will work before I deliver it on stage?”
The answer is conditionally yes, depending upon your knowledge and understanding of the variables below.
Variables That Affect Knowing If Your Comedy Material Is Funny
Here are 5 variables that have a direct impact on whether of not a comedian can have confidence in the laughter power of your comedy material before you actually take it to the stage:
1. Does the comedian have real comedy talent required to generate laughs on stage?
The majority of people who take a stab at stand-up comedy have more than enough comedy talent to do well on stage as a comedian provided they will effectively use that already developed talent.
Then there is the minority of people who attempt stand-up comedy who don’t have the comedy talent God gave toenail clippings.
It’s no different than watching the people who think they can sing and try out for American Idol, but simply don’t have the baseline talent needed to actually compete in the first place.
Talentless singers can be hilarious to watch:
Watching talentless comedians however is much like enduring fingernails on a chalkboard.
In other words, none of what I have to offer in this article (or anything else I offer for that matter) to help someone determine if their stand-up comedy material is funny before they take it to the stage has any bearing if baseline comedy talent and audience appeal are absent to begin with.
But let’s assume that you are among the majority of people and you DO have all the comedy talent and audience appeal you need to get the big laughs on stage (which as I mentioned earlier the majority of people have)…
2. Is the comedian trying to “write” their way to being funny on stage or are they structuring their existing sense of humor and comedy talent for delivery to an audience?
Probably the biggest obstacle that keeps new comedians from getting the laughs they want is that they are dependent on literal “writing” as they have been taught to do since youth (designed specifically for a reader) instead of creating, structuring, refining and honing comedy material based on the way they have developed their sense of humor and comedy talent in the first place (by talking in interpersonal exchanges with others).
Related Article: Using Your Natural Comedy Talent As A Comedian
Here’s why this is vitally important for knowing if your stand-up comedy material will be funny before you take it to the stage:
You use your sense of humor and associated comedy talent everyday offstage. You do this with confidence, knowing how your respond to and interact with others that generates laughs when you do.
In other words, you already have a very good idea before you ever open your mouth to respond to and interact with others whether or not what you have to say and express is going to get a laugh.
There are certainly differences between interacting with others offstage and delivering a stand-up comedy routine onstage — but not when it comes to the comedy mechanics you use to get laughs.
The differences lie in the material you select, the structure of your material for brevity before punchlines are delivered, audience dynamics, etc.
If you understand that you can be you onstage in a carefully crafted knowledgeable way, you can have virtually the same confidence about using your comedy talent onstage as you do offstage.
The next factor ties into this very topic…
3. How “tight” is the stand-up comedy material that the comedian is delivering?
If a comedian doesn’t really know what a punchline is relative to context and delivery in the stand-up comedy material that they are going to deliver to an audience…
Note: Knowing only that a punchline is the funny part of a joke is worthless when it comes to trying to determine if your stand-up comedy material is funny or not.
Related Article: The Truth About Set-up Lines And Punchlines
Or the comedian is unable to structure their stand-up comedy material in order to deliver 4-6+ punchlines per minute to generate a minimum of 18 seconds of laughter per minute…
Simply put, if a comedian’s stand-up comedy material is not “tight”, it simply will not work at a high level and they have basically no chance of generating any significant laughter momentum with their stand-up comedy material.
Related Offsite Report:
4. Is the comedian completely prepared to deliver their stand-up comedy material at the highest level BEFORE they deliver that material to an audience?
If a comedian is dependent upon notes, cannot keep eye contact with an audience, doesn’t present the appearance of spontaneity or genuineness with their stand-up comedy material, etc…
Their stand-up comedy material is basically rendered ineffective when it may actually be hilarious, given the proper delivery.
Let’s put this another way…
When you are responding to and interacting with others offstage and causing them to laugh, you aren’t reaching for notes, looking away from them, stammering and stuttering through what you have to say, etc.
You use your natural expressive comedy traits with confidence combined with the words you have to say to get those laughs.
It should be no different onstage.
And when you consider that MOST of your laughter power comes from non-verbal expression, you should be able to see how important this aspect is for knowing if your material is actually funny or not before you take it to the stage.
5. Can your audiences easily visualize and relate to what you are talking about on stage?
Simply put, if your audiences cannot visualize or relate to what you have to say on stage, they won’t get the “jokes”.
Note: This is one of the reasons why “alternative” comedy and so-called “cutting” edge comedy tends to flop miserably on stage with great consistency.
The reality of the matter is this:
You already have HOURS of potential comedy material that you can take to the stage that will get big laughs just from your life experiences, opinions, views, observations, etc.
But not all of it will work among an audience of people who don’t yet know you.
So you have to know how to select (and structure) those things that an audience can easily relate to or recognize and appreciate with laughter when you perform.
What I have presented here are just 5 of a number of variables that must be taken into account if a comedian wants to have a good to very good idea if their stand-up comedy material is funny before they take it to the stage.
And let me say this — none of the variables you need to know in order to make a determination on whether or not your stand-up comedy material is funny are difficult to recognize or understand.
But it’s been said before:
“It’s hard to know what you don’t know”.
So the answer to the question is…
Yes, a comedian have a pretty darn good idea if their stand-up comedy material will work BEFORE they deliver it to an audience, provided that:
1. They are self-aware about what makes them funny in the first place.
2. They are able to recognize and account for most of the variables that can have an impact of the effectiveness of their stand-up comedy material.
3. They are thoroughly prepared to use all of their comedy talent when they hit the stage in a carefully structured and predefined way.
And for the record:
You won’t find the information I’ve presented in this article or about the additional variables you need to consider in ANY of the popular books on “writing” stand-up comedy (#ad).
That information is only available in the Killer Stand-up Online Course.