It’s Not Just One Thing That Makes Stand-up Comedy Material Work (And Work Well)

When it comes to knowing how to be a comedian who can rock a room…

I can tell by the search terms that people use to find this blog that many are under the impression that if they can just find out one critical piece of information that their stand-up comedy material will somehow become funny.

However, getting big laughs on stage as a comedian is not just about one thing – it’s about a combination of things that happen in symphony that causes audience laughter to happen at a high level.

Let me put this another way…

Virtually everyone has been able to make a person or a group of people laugh in casual, everyday conversations. You don’t need to know how to be a comedian to do that.

But just like in stand-up comedy, it wasn’t just the literal words that were used that caused that laughter to happen.

Again, it was a combination of the individual characteristics, qualities and attributes that you have that made that laughter happen in those casual conversations.

Related Article: Using Your Natural Comedy Talent As A Comedian

Unfortunately, most people who are trying to “write” a stand-up comedy routine or develop stand-up comedy material tend to focus on just one thing, which is “writing” – focusing on just the literal words alone without consideration of a host of other factors that are essential to laughter generation.

I’ve said before that this is much like trying to drive a car with a steering wheel without the rest of the car.

Here are just a few important things to consider when it comes to developing stand-up comedy material that is going to generate significant laughs during a performance:

1. We don’t talk the same way we are taught to “write”.

If you don’t believe that, simply record your half of a telephone conversation with a friend and transcribe just a minute or two of your part of the conversation.

If you want to know how to be a comedian who can generate laughs on stage, you must realize that audiences don’t read stand-up comedy material – they experience it.

Hint: This is also the reason why most transcribed stand-up comedy material doesn’t “read funny” — critical elements that give a comedian their true laughter power are missing.

2. Most of the laughter generation power a comedian has does not lie in the literal words they use – it lies in how they phrase and express those words.

This is true regardless of the delivery style of the comedian.

3. Audience dynamics and seating play an important role in the laughter levels a comedian can generate.

4. A comedian’s outward appearance of confidence, likeability and genuineness along with a host of other individual characteristics and qualities plays a huge role in the laughter a comedian can generate.

5. Comedic timing and punchline frequency plays a significant role as well – not only in a comedian’s ability to generate laughter, but the momentum they can accumulate during a performance.

Again, these are just a very few of the simple, yet vitally important things every comedian should know and consider when it comes developing or “writing” a stand-up comedy routine that will actually generate laughs — preferably big laughs.

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One of the reasons why “conventional” stand-up comedy books fall short and are of little value when it comes to developing stand-up comedy material that works is because they only provide academic definitions and information that is not actionable on an individual basis.

What you really need is actionable information — techniques, strategies and methods that you can actually use and apply as it relates to you and your sense of humor and that will work to get big laughs on stage.

Not one single thing I have identified in this article is difficult to understand or apply when it comes to knowing how to be a comedian provided that you are armed with the information you need to put all of the factors into play that will generate the big laughs on the stand-up comedy stage.

7 Replies to “It’s Not Just One Thing That Makes Stand-up Comedy Material Work (And Work Well)”

  1. You’ve provided a great list of obvious but often and easily overlooked factors that affect audience response, Steve. I admit that I find it much easier to perform to a larger audience than a smaller one, and I really hadn’t thought a whole lot about the relationship between audience dynamics and seating that you mention in point 3 above. Keeping smaller groups closely seated really does give a better ‘feel’ to the audience than having individuals scattered around the room. I tend to view the audience as a unit — I may have mentioned elsewhere on this site about the “personality” of an audience — and find that if the group is scattered, it is much more difficult to build that crucial intimate connection.