One of the things that you will hear about stand-up comedy is this:
“It’s all about the timing.”
This is another one of those sort of absolute truths that’s not completely accurate.
Now I will tell you that timing when delivering a stand-up comedy routine is certainly a very important factor in the process of generating loud and frequent audience laughs.
But I will also tell you that timing is also just one aspect of a number of factors in play when a comedian performs and generates big laughs on stage.
In other words, great timing alone is simply not enough to generate the intensity and frequency of laughter needed to move forward as a comedian.
Here are some aspects about comedy timing you may not be aware of…
This may come as a surprise, but when it comes to comedy timing you already have MOST of the comedy timing that you are ever going to have.
And I can promise this…
You won’t read that in any “conventional” book on stand-up comedy.
Here is some basic information you need to be aware as it relates to comedy timing as a comedian:
High level stand-up comedy material has a rhythm of sorts — one that is similar, but a little bit different for each comedian.
That rhythm is similar for virtually all accomplished comedians because they are all delivering an average of 4-6+ punchlines each performing minute and the fact that audiences need time to laugh at what a comedian has to say.
It is this rhythm that allows a comedian to “get on a roll” and maintain laughter momentum throughout their performance.
So one of the major factors that has a huge impact on their comedy timing involves how their stand-up comedy material is structured in the first place.
Let me put this another way…
If a comedian is only getting 1-2 laughs per performing minute, there’s not nearly as much timing involved as when a comedian is generating 4-6+ quality laughs per performing minute.
One of the reasons why comedian’s who try to “write” jokes or other stand-up comedy material in literary sense have so much difficulty is there is never any mention of how long or how short any particular joke should be.
And it should go without saying that a comedian who wants to get 4-6+ quality laughs each minute simply does not have much time to do that and “get on a roll”, especially when you consider that audience laughter also takes up time.
In other words, simply not talking when an audience is not laughing is not enough information to use and apply one’s natural comedy talent effectively.
Audience size also has a direct impact on a comedian’s timing on stage. If a comedian is generating quality laughs with their stand-up comedy material, larger audience will laugh for longer period of time.
It is up to the comedian to adjust for these longer laughter episodes in order to generate the biggest laughs possible when they are delivering their act.
Note: Talking faster in between laughs is NOT an effective strategy to get to the next punchline quicker. Talking before an audience has started laughing or when they are not finished laughing fully will reduce or can eliminate the laughs a comedian can generate.
Keep this in mind about comedy timing:
An audience cannot listen to a comedian when the comedian is delivering their stand-up comedy material.
By and large, effective comedy timing is not learned per se but rather structured and controlled by the comedian as they deliver their stand-up comedy material.
Let me also share this secret about comedy timing with you…
You will see over and over again on this blog about generating 4-6+ laughs per minute. That is something you can verify for yourself by simply counting the number of laughs per minute generated by an accomplished comedian on any YouTube video where the comedian is slaying the audience.
But here’s the part you don’t know:
The rhythm a comedian has that I referred to in the beginning of this article can and will cause an audience to laugh at more than just punchlines in a comedian’s act.
In other words, if a comedian has structured their stand-up comedy material based on their own natural comedy talent, set up lines can generate significant laughs in addition to their punchlines and tag lines.
Don’t get me wrong — the lion’s share of laughter a comedian generates will be from the punchlines and additional tag lines (follow up punchlines) they deliver during their stand-up comedy act.
But when a comedian can also get laughs from their set up lines too, it can create a most favorable situation for the comedian. 🙂
Needless to say, how a comedian produces and structures their stand-up comedy material right from the start is a very big deal when it comes to comedy timing and the resulting laughter they are able to generate on stage.
And as far as I can tell, the Killer Stand-up Online Course is the only stand-up comedy educational resource that factors in comedy timing in the stand-up comedy material development process.
Otherwise, you are simply left with this piece of generic advice about comedy timing:
“When the audience starts laughing, stop talking. When the audience stops laughing, start talking.”
I submit to you that is simply not enough to help someone when it comes to comedy timing, much less getting the quality and frequency of laughter they need to make headway as a comedian.
And like I also say multiple times on this blog — don’t take my word for it. Do a search online and see if you can find any information about comedy timing that is even remotely close to what I have presented in this most basic article.
All I know is this:
It is very difficult to create, develop and deliver a high impact stand-up comedy routine quickly and effectively if many of critical pieces of information you need are missing.
Information that you can actually use and apply regarding comedy timing is one many missing pieces of information you really need to know. FYI.