Performance Improvement Basics For Comedians

One of the most basic ways that a comedian can review their stand-up comedy act for performance improvement is to simply count the number of laughs generated each minute they are on stage.

All that is needed is a video or audio recording of the set you wish to review, along with some fingers and toes to count with.

I should mention that what I am about to share with you regarding laughs per minute is only a very rough, potentially misleading performance gauge and just like with any stand-up comedy set, your performances will usually always vary to some degree relative to the audience size, seating, and attentiveness to your show.

If any particular minute of your act does not generate at least 4 laughs in any particular minute, here is what laughs per minute can tell you:

1. Your set-ups are too long before you are getting to a punchline.
2. Some (or all) of your punchlines aren’t working.
3. You don’t have enough punchlines

Here are some other important considerations:

Audience size can have an impact on laughs per minute because smaller audiences will usually have shorter group laugh episodes and larger audiences will have longer laugh episodes.

This means that you can actually have more laughs in a minute with smaller audiences, not because you are speaking faster (which you shouldn’t be), but because…

Shorter laughter duration from the collective audience allows you to get to the next punchline faster than you would with a bigger audience with longer laughter episodes.

Seating can also have a significant impact because a smaller audience seated in close proximity can have more laughter response than a larger audience that is sparsely scattered across the room.

Needless to say, you should make notes about the audience when you are engaged in performance review activities in order to have a more accurate perspective about your laughter generation abilities as they relate to important audience variables.

Unfortunately, just counting laughs per minute can lead someone to believe that they are doing far better on stage than they really are.

For example, let’s say a comedian counts 5-7 laughs per minute (which is the laughs per minute headliners will usually generate) in every minute of a 5 minute set. Pretty good, right?

But what if those 5-7 laughs only accounted for 5-7 seconds of laughter each minute?

I can tell you right now — that comedian is not very funny (PAR Score 8-11 – open mic level. A headliner level performance is PAR Score 30+ or 18+ seconds per minute).

A much better way to evaluate recorded performances is by knowing:

1. The duration of each laugh in seconds. This will tell you the actual impact of each individual punchline and specifically identifies which punchlines need improvement for bigger laughs.

2. Seconds of laughter generated each minute. Using this metric, you know which specific minutes of your act are killing or may need rework in order to try to reach the 18 second mark.

3. Punchline frequency. Combined with the metrics provided by 1 and 2, laughs per minute now provides not only punchline frequency data, but valuable data on how much true laughter impact your punchlines really have in any given minute

As you can see, these metrics give you far more detailed and actionable information than simply counting the number of laughs per minute — that is what Comedy Evaluator Pro is all about.

These time measurement metrics apply regardless of individual comedian delivery style or type of content.

Headline comedians across the board in every genre have developed their talent and skill to be able to consistently deliver an average of 18+ seconds of laughter per minute. They have set the standards for all comedians to go for and achieve.

Related article: 4 Important Considerations For Delivering Headliner Level Laughter As A Comedian

The bottom line:

If you will engage in performance review of your stand-up act (which means you must record it) and you know what to focus on specifically when it comes to editing, additions, deletions, and act rearrangement…

You will make more progress more quickly than 95% of all those who are trying to get time on the stand-up comedy stage. Most comedians — even experienced comedians — use mostly blind trial and error.

Don’t take my word for it. Go to any open mic and ask the comedians there what kinds of things they do to improve their performances after their show.

There will always be some measure of rework when it comes to stand-up comedy act development. There’s nothing that I know of to completely eliminate that aspect of being a comedy entertainer.

But I will say that knowing the duration (impact) of each laugh (punchline) and how many seconds of laughter per minute can really help a comedian drill down and focus on those areas that need improvement more than others—if they are willing to review their recorded act for performance improvement.

There are also a number of other important performance improvement variables that are not involved with time measurement metrics. These additional important performance improvement guidelines are provided in the Killer Stand-up Online Course.



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