The Stand-up Comedy Bottom Line

stand-up comedy performance bottom lineI find it amusing when aspiring comedians want to get into a spirited discussion with me about different stand-up comedy “styles” — joke telling vs. story telling or topic based stand-up comedy and how that somehow makes a comedian funny or not.

Here’s reality:

“Style” doesn’t matter. Whether a comedian uses props, music, PowerPoint presentations, magic tricks or whatever — doesn’t matter. What a comedian talks about doesn’t matter (unless it is for work outside the comedy club market).

Here’s what does matter:

It matters that audiences are entertained at the highest level possible.

In the world of stand-up comedy, the level an audience is entertained is directly related to the frequency and duration of laughter a comedy performer can generate during their show.

In other words…

The longer, louder and more frequently an audience laughs, the more they are entertained.

Let me break it down even further:

1. If a comedian — regardless of “style” — can’t produce a minimum average of 18 seconds of laughter, cheering or applause every performing minute during their show, no matter how long that show may be, they ARE NOT performing at headliner level.

This is not something that I simply made up — as a matter of fact, you need only have access to YouTube and select any known headliner level comedian to verify for yourself exactly what I am referring to. Not only that…

You can use your smartphone for accurate verification — this report explains exactly how you do it using the most basic apps most smartphones have:

Stand-up Comedy Metrics | Laughter Measurement - Comedy Evaluator Pro
This article describes the objective and measurable metrics associated with headliner level comedian laughter levels.

Related article: Setting Standards For Stand-up Comedians

2. An individual may or may not subjectively “like” a comedian’s comedy material/content from the examination of an online video or other recorded performance. But live audience response is always objectively measurable and undeniable.

Related Article: You Kill On Stage And You Got The Video! Then This Happens…

3. A comedian cannot go minutes without getting laughs. Well, they can but it’s called bombing or giving a lecture.

But what is absolutely bizarre in stand-up comedy is the number of new comedians who suck horribly, yet still expect to be somehow “discovered” for the comedy talent they have but can’t actually demonstrate because they don’t get laughs when they perform.

But DO NOT take my word for this. Go hang out at several comedy open mic nights, get to know the open mic comedians and find out how long they have been pretending to be a comedian.

In my eyes, the funniest comedians are those who can generate the most laughs in a live environment. Audiences will agree. Talent agents and bookers will agree.

So here’s the no BS bottom line you can take to the bank:

  • Every comedian is afforded the exact same 60 seconds for each performing minute, whether they are on stage for 3 minutes or 60 minutes.
  • Every comedian has the same opportunity each time they step onto a stage to generate the audience laughter levels needed to get recognized, get discovered or otherwise move forward as a comedian.
  • If a comedian cannot closely approach, meet or exceed generating an average of 18 seconds of laughter for each performing minute on stage they simply won’t get far in world of stand-up comedy as a comedian.

I should probably also mention that individuals who are able to consistently deliver 18+ seconds of laughter each performing minute (PAR Score 30+) are in the top 5% of ALL comedy performers, regardless of fame, notoriety or TV credits accumulated.

My overall perspective regarding success or failure as a comedian is this:

  • Most people have all the comedy talent they will ever have (or need) to do well as a comedian if they would simply learn how to use and apply it like they do offstage (but in a more concentrated form for the stage).
  • If you believe that the ability to make others laugh is strictly based on word usage and sentence structure alone, you are already severely screwed and destined for a hard existence as a new comedian.
  • Success as a comedian involves using accurate information in order to properly prepare to succeed as a comedian — from creating comedy material from scratch to the actual delivery of that material and getting the frequency of audience laughs needed.

Again, don’t take my word for it — go to any comedy open mic anywhere on the planet, observe the new comedians in action then ask yourself this question:

Were they prepared to succeed and get the laughs they needed or not?

Funny can’t hide. Well, guess what? Unfunny can’t hide either. 🙂

5 Stand-up Comedy Lessons - Killer Stand-up Online Course
This training module intro page provides comedy lessons on why conventional stand-up comedy writing methods don’t work.

8 Replies to “The Stand-up Comedy Bottom Line”

  1. this is very true. Some comedians use magic tricks and make 4-9 year olds laugh. Others tell unsuatible jokes that are rated 15+ or even 17+. If both of these comedians generate enough laughs per second, they are both as good. However, the comedian who has an audience of 17+ can’t learn anything from the funny magician aimed at 4-9 year olds, and vice versa.

    • Personally, I think everyone can learn someone from everyone; regardless of style and their audience (kids, young adults, adults only, etc.) Even from that magician, you can observe his timing, delivery style, audience rapport, sense of confidence, etc. Even if a comedian is not my cup of tea, I can still learn from him. What’s working? What’s not? Is the audience responding? How does he handle hecklers or interact with the audience in general. I don’t have to like his style to observe his skills and appreciate his talent. Learn from one and all. But always remember to be yourself! But being true to you and your own style doesn’t mean you can’t learn positive and negative things from others!

  2. So this is a measure of how long there is laughter during your set, right?

    In a smaller audience, laughs will be shorter, so that’s why you need more jokes. But either way, whether a small audience laughs for 18 seconds at nine jokes for two seconds each, or whether you only get three jokes off to a big audience at 6 seconds of laughter each……it still adds up to 18 seconds. That’s what you’re saying, right?

  3. I believe my funniest sets are my long, layered stories and how i tie them back in later in to my other sets. I’m not sure i will laughs while into the set-up of my jokes, but the punch lines and references will hopfully kill. Maaybe they will laugh long enough at the end to justify your math requirements, but i’m not supposed to wait and laugh with audience right? If i am getting good laughter and responses, do i wait for the racus to die down, or launch into my next set? Perhaps bowing and patting myself on the back until it subsides?

    • Audiences cannot laugh and hear you talk at the same time. So if you start talking before the audience is almost finished laughing (collectively), you will be running over laughs and reducing your laughter impact. You must give your audiences time to laugh in order to squeeze out the maximum laughter impact of a stand-up comedy set.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.