I would say that the first tight 5 minutes of a new comedian’s stand-up comedy act is without a doubt the most important stand-up comedy material that they will “write” or develop for a number of reasons…
It will be during the development of this first tight 5 minutes that the new comedian begins to effectively tap into their “stage voice” — that comfort zone that allows them to be who they really are on stage and not doing their “impression” of what they think a comedian should be.
It will be the confidence a comedian has in their first tight 5 minutes of stand-up comedy material that gets the big laughs that will lead to the development of new stand-up comedy material.
I guess I should explain what I mean by a tight 5 minutes of stand-up comedy material which NOT getting 1-2 small laughs per minute. That is known as bombing in the world of stand-up comedy.
A tight 5 minutes of stand-up comedy material generates an average 4-6+ collective audience laughs each performing minute.
While on the surface that may seem like it should be a fairly easy milestone to reach, it is important to note that many new comedians are never able to write or develop a tight 5 minutes of stand-up material that gets noteworthy laughs when performed.
One need only hang out at comedy open mic nights for a year to see exactly why I can say that.
I remember vividly saying this to myself after just a few of first stand-up comedy performances:
“How on earth does someone develop just 5 great minutes of stand-up comedy material?” It seemed like a daunting task at the time especially given all the work I had put in to get the crappy “jokes” I ended up with.
Like most new comedians I was writing my stand-up comedy in a literary sense without regard to one obvious and very important fact:
Writing and talking are two very different and distinct forms of communication.
Trying to write stand-up comedy material in a literary fashion is much like trying to thinly slice meat with a butter knife. A different kind of knife is needed to perform that task effectively.
Before I jump into the characteristics of a tight 5 minute stand-up comedy routine, here’s what you need to know: