I have a tendency to talk about what it takes to develop and deliver headline level comedian material no matter what “title” a comedian holds in the stand-up comedy business.
Make no mistake — the speed at which a comedian can capitalize on their talent is directly related to the ability of that comedian to consistently deliver headline level comedy material.
Note: An individual does not have to hold the title of headliner in order to develop and deliver a powerful, big laugh stand-up comedy routine.
So, let’s talk about what headliner level stand-up comedy is from a results based perspective and the processes that comedians use to get there…
What is headline level stand-up comedy?
That is a stand-up comedy act that generates an average of 4-6+ audience laughs per minute that approaches, meets or exceeds an average of 18+ seconds of laughter for each performing minute — whether the comedian is delivering 5 minutes or 50 minutes of material.
The first part of the following report explains the basis for this objective viewpoint when it comes to determining what headline level stand-up comedy is and what is achieved when it happens:
Joke Methods Comedians Use
There are two primary methodologies being used today to develop and produce stand-up comedy material for the stage:
1. The old school “joke writing” method. This is most popular and yet the most difficult way to develop stand-up comedy material.
This method focuses on “joke” development using conventional “formulas” and largely disregards the most important part of laughter generation which is delivery.
Probably the biggest downfall for using the “joke writing” methodology is that it can literally take years to develop the skills to write and develop a headline level act using this system.
The reason for this simple: Writing is a completely different form of communication than talking or speaking.
Writing only involves words and sentences. Talking or speaking on the other hand involves multiple communication processes in addition to words and sentences.
Trying to deliver stand-up comedy material that has been “written” the way a person has been taught to write (which is for a reader) is like trying to pole vault with a golf club.
Probably the biggest problem for many with attempting to “write” material in a literary fashion as we have been taught since we started school many moons ago is this:
Since writing only involves the use of words, many more words are needed to describe or point out anything as it is written on paper. This is problematic because..
It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to understand that in order to deliver an average of 4-6+ punchlines every minute on stage to generate the average of 18+ seconds of audience laughter you want, you simply DO NOT have the luxury of being wordy or verbose.
To make a long story short, unless your one-two line jokes are very short, it becomes hard to come close to reaching the goal of delivering headliner level stand-up comedy material.
2. Topic based comedy material development. This new method involves topic development and structuring talking as opposed trying to develop one joke at a time from some sort of “writing process..
This method incorporates all the communication aspects involved with talking or speaking, not just literal words and sentences. This can give you the brevity you need to reach the goal of generating the laughs per minute and the seconds of audience laughter you need each minute to achieve the goal you want on stage as a comedian.
This method also focuses on structuring stand-up comedy material to get 4-6+ laughs per minute based on the comedian’s own sense of humor, as opposed to trying to “figure out” what may or may not be funny from a traditional “writing” process.
This alternate method is what the Killer Stand-up Online Course is really all about.
To get an idea of what this sort of topic based, conversation style comedy looks like, here is a video from comedian Steve Trevino — just count the number of laughs he is able to generate each minute in this 2:47 minute clip:
No matter which system or method a comedian uses, the goal ALWAYS remains the same:
Goal: Deliver stand-up comedy material that generates 18+ seconds of laughter for each performing minute – see Comedy Evaluator Pro for details.
It’s worth noting that most recognized stand-up comedy stars are able to generate 24+ seconds of laughter for each performing minute (talent plus larger audience sizes contribute to these numbers).
In any stand-up comedy market (and there are more markets than just comedy clubs to work in), having the ability to generate headliner level laughs will move any comedian “up the ladder” faster than anything else.
As a matter of fact, there is actually minimal competition among comedians who can generate 18+ seconds of laughter each performing minute.
No matter what process a comedian uses to develop and produce their stand-up comedy material…
If they only have 1-2 punchlines in any given minute of their stand-up comedy material, they are basically wasting their time trying to become a comedian.
Why do I say that? Because there are already plenty of comedians who can generate an average of 4-6+ noteworthy audience laughs with their stand-up routine.
And it will always be these comedians to get the better gig and the biggest breaks in stand-up comedy.
Common sense would dictate that every new comedian should develop stand-up comedy material that has 4-6+ punchlines every performing minute. Even if not all those punchline get the laughs they want, there’s a far better chance that at least some of those punchlines will get laughs.
This can provide a foundation upon which a comedian can make adjustments and refinements that will allow them to get the 4-6+ laughs each performing minute that they need to move ahead.
But if the stand-up comedy material a comedian produces only has 1-2 punchlines per minute and they don’t generate laughs, they have no foundation to build upon.
The reality of the situation is that it is not difficult at all to create and develop stand-up comedy material that does have 4-6+ punchlines every minute before a comedian ever hits the stage provided a comedian knows how to do it.
However, until a comedian realizes that “writing” for reader is significantly different than developing stand-up comedy for delivery to an audience of observers who are watching and listening, they will most certainly struggle to get noteworthy laughs on stage.
If you can thoroughly grasp what I have presented in this article then you are already ahead of the pack.
I say that because most new comedians don’t have so much as a clue as to how many laughs they need in a minute on stage to move along quickly in stand-up comedy, much less how to develop stand-up material that will generate 4-6+ laughs per minute.
Unlike most, at least you now know the goal you need to reach and can take action to reach that goal.