One of the things new comedians want to know is how many jokes are in a minute of stand-up comedy material.
If a comedian wants to generate headliner laughter levels, they need to average 4-6+ laughs per minute.
That equates to an average 4-6+ punchlines (jokes) that generate laughs every performing minute.
For 5 minutes of stand-up comedy material, that would equate to 20-30 “jokes” (punchlines) for that set.
This is a constant whether a comedian is delivering one or two line jokes or delivering topic based stand-up comedy material like the Killer Stand-up Online Course shows comedians how to develop.
In this article, I want to share some interesting information about a famous “one liner” comedian as far as jokes per minute goes, then briefly discuss some of the advantages of developing and delivering topic based stand-up comedy material.
A number of years back I read an interview with him and the topic came up about his comedy material.
In that article he revealed that he needed 360 “jokes” in order to have 60 minutes of stand-up comedy material.
That makes perfect sense because if you do the simple math, that comes out to 6 jokes (or punchlines) per minute for a headline level stand-up comedy set.
The “one liner” comedian that I am referring to is…
Deadpan comedian Steven Wright:
But think of this…
Can you imagine having to memorize and rehearse 360 individual jokes?
Plus, given that fact that much of Steve Wright’s material is not usually connected in any way…
That to me seems like a monumental task all by itself. I can’t even imagine trying to put together a set list to help with memorizing 360 jokes.
Don’t get me wrong — every professional comedian who is able to kill audiences with consistency spends a tremendous time rehearsing, especially new material.
But still, 360 jokes is a huge amount of material. Even a 5 minute stand-up comedy set would consist of 30 jokes (provided the material is very tight).
Here are some of the reasons why comedians who develop and deliver topic based comedy material have a real advantage over “one liner” comedians:
The topic based stand-up comedy material tends to be more personal to the comedian, making it easier for the comedian to visualize and remember.
While extensive rehearsal time is still needed to deliver a flawless stand-up comedy routine, less time is needed overall when it comes getting stand-up comedy material ready for the stage.
Once a topic has been introduced by a comedian, the audience should know what the comedian is talking about and the comedian can spend time on reacting to aspects of the topic, as opposed to starting with a new set-up for a topic every 10 seconds or so.
Here’s another interesting observation that I have made about topic based headliner comedians:
Beyond the initial topic set-up information, they actually tend to generate an average 8-10+ laughs per performing minute.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to developing and delivering stand-up comedy material at a high level is this:
The number of laughs you get in any particular minute of your stand-up comedy act is not as important as being able to generate an average of 18+ seconds of laughter each performing minute from the laughs you produce.
Related Article: Why Counting Laughs Per Minute Is Not The Best Way To Determine Comedian Performance Levels
Still, most of the time it will be your punchline frequency that contributes to being able to reach that mark.