It has gotten to the point that on regular basis somebody wants to pay me to read their stand-up comedy material.
I know why — they want me to determine if their stand-up comedy material will get laughs before they take it on stage.
And most of the time, I will respectfully decline — without hesitation or reservation. Why would I do that?
It is certainly not because I don’t want to help someone in their stand-up endeavors. That’s NOT the case at all.
It has to do specifically with the critical variables for generating laughs that are missing from just reading words from paper or on a computer screen.
Let’s start at the beginning so that you can better understand what I am talking about...
I know without question that every comedian (new or experienced) wants to know before they hit that stage that the stand-up comedy material they want to deliver will get laughs.
Once a person has their stand-up comedy material written out, seemingly solid logic indicates that someone – in particular a stand-up comedy expert such as myself — could read that material and easily make a determination if will be funny or not when delivered on stage to an audience.
The problem with that logic is this:
Writing and talking or speaking are not the same forms of communication — they are as different as the sun and the moon.
Writing involves only words structured for consumption by an individual reader. Talking involves not only words, but a wide array of other communication attributes designed for consumption by a listener(s) or an observer(s).
Writing is formally taught and involves a standard set of rules that apply for producing communication designed for an individual reader. Talking is informally learned and has no such “standard” rules.
All the critical variables that makes a person funny in every day life (other than the literal words a person uses) – their sense of humor, point of view, manner of expression, etc. — cannot be experienced from an audience perspective by reading just words.
This is the primary reason why most (but not all) stand-up comedy material that works to get laughs on stage simply doesn’t “read” funny when read.
But what about stand-up comedy material that does “read” funny? That tells you one basic thing:
It indicates that your jokes or stand-up comedy material were funny to an individual reader.
While that may be great for a Facebook post, Twitter post or an email message that will be consumed by an individual reader…
There is no way that I know of to determine with great certainty if something that reads funny to an individual reader will get big laughs on stage because of the critical laughter generation variables that are unaccounted for when those jokes or material are delivered a live audience — not an individual reader.
That’s also the reason that I can’t simply “read” someone’s stand-up comedy material and tell them with great certainty that it will get laughs on stage.
That would be no different than asking me to examine only the steering wheel of a car to determine what shape the rest of the car is in.
Note: I don’t know of a single method, process or technique that will allow anyone to “read” somebody’s stand-up comedy material and accurately predict that it will work on stage.
Even professional comedy writers don’t just depend on words and sentences alone written in a vacuum to get laughs when they are producing stand-up comedy material for a comedian.
They also consider (and incorporate) all the other aspects of a comedian’s laughter generation talent and ability to the greatest extent possible when they develop comedy material for them.
Now provide me with a 3-5 minute stand-up comedy video to review (regardless of the laughs or lack of laughs generated during the set)…
That is a completely different story. With a video to review I can evaluate a comedian’s demeanor, manner of expression, personality, speech rate, comedy timing, along with a laundry list of other attributes as they relate to generating audience laughs.
And it allows me to provide much more solid, actionable feedback and advice with a much greater degree of confidence than I ever could by simply reading someone’s stand-up comedy material.
Note: Killer Stand-up Online Course Members can get stand-up comedy videos reviewed as a part of an optional one-on-one phone or Skype consultation.
Here’s what you really need to know:
What makes you a funny person in every day life is comprised of much more than just the mere words that you use when you communicate and interact with others.
What makes you funny in everyday life is also the key to generating noteworthy audience laughter as comedian (if you want to progress quickly).
There is a huge difference between trying to “write” for a response from a reader and creating, developing and structuring what you want to say and express to an audience using your already developed sense of humor (the comedy talent you already have).
Don’t you already use your sense of humor in every day life with a high level of certainty and confidence?
So, you tell me…
Why shouldn’t you be able to use that same sense of humor as a comedian with a high level of certainty and confidence?
Well, I’m here to tell you can.
But not if you are trying to substitute “writing for a reader” as a means of talking and expressing yourself using all of your comedy talent the way you do naturally — in a way that is designed from the start to get you the laughter results you want as a comedian.
What makes you funny in everyday life is more than just the words that you use when you talk — there’s so much more that most tend to ignore because of the so-called comedy “experts” that tend to focus only on the words alone.
It seems like people are under the assumption that people joke books exist where all the jokes are written down on paper the same assumption can be used in stand up comedy. I can definitely see the reasons but like you said. Stand is more than just reading from a piece of paper. Stand up is all about entertaining the audience. People who just want their jokes reviewed are wanting to drive a car with just the engine and the rest of the inner workings taken out.