Conventional Joke Writing: The Fastest Path To Failure In Stand-up Comedy

Conventional Joke Writing: The Fastest Path To Failure In Stand-up Comedy

Training Module One: Intro And Lesson Links

Begin

Introduction

Let’s assume for a moment that we were sitting down for a cup of coffee and you told me that you wanted to become a stand-up comedian or that you have already been performing as a stand-up comedian and wanted to get bigger and more consistent laughs on stage.

I could ask you just one question and based on your answer to that question…

I could tell you with great certainty that you would probably have (or continue to have) great difficulty in reaching your goal of generating headliner level audience responses as a comedian.

Here’s the question:

How do you develop stand-up comedy material that gets big laughs on stage?

And if you were to reply: Well, you need know how to write some funny jokes, then you tell those jokes on stage. Without knowing anything else about you, that single response to my question would tell me instantly that you would be destined for months, if not years of needless struggle in stand-up comedy.

Now put your thinking cap on — I’m about to expose you to information that few comedians will ever see, much less understand (which can provide a great advantage to you)

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Part 2

Logical Conclusions That Pave The Path To Failure

It’s not difficult at all to make what seems to be logical conclusions that producing stand-up comedy material for the stage that generates big laughter is largely dependent upon “writing”, which is…

Fabricating or “dreaming up” jokes that are “written” or fabricated from a blank piece of paper that “read” funny and should work well on stage when delivered.

If you look at the credits at the end of any stand-up comedy special or program, you will see something like this: Written By John The Comedian If you talk with comedians or watch popular comedians being interviewed on TV, you will hear them refer frequently to jokes or material they “wrote”.

If you take a stand-up comedy class or workshop or you read almost any of the popular books on stand-up comedy (outside this online course), you will find the most of the content provided in those resources is focused on “joke writing” as I have described.

So it should come as no surprise why the widespread accepted and “conventional” wisdom about developing stand-up comedy material is really focused upon “writing jokes” in the literal sense.

But keep this in mind as you continue: Less than 300 years ago, the widespread and “conventional” medical wisdom was to “bleed” people who were seriously ill in order to drain off the “bad blood” that was causing the illness.

Bloodletting was an accepted medical practice for over 2000 years. Subsequently, hordes of people died from blood loss before that widespread and “conventional” wisdom changed to reflect the knowledge that “bleeding” sick people was a really bad idea.

A similar situation exists today in stand-up comedy today — comedians “die” every night after night on stage needlessly, largely due to the fact they are working with highly flawed, inaccurate yet widely accepted “conventional” wisdom about “joke writing” as the only way to produce high level stand-up comedy material.

So let’s take a look at one aspect of “joke writing” as it is perceived and taught by the majority of so-called comedy “experts” today. Then you can decide for yourself if the “conventional” joke writing approach is the one you want to take to develop your comedy material and…

You can also determine if needless struggle and increased probability of failure is the path you want to take in your comedy adventures. Fair enough? One last thing… I don’t deal with unproven theories, speculation or conjecture in this course.

Virtually everything I have to offer you in this online course is observable and easily verifiable. So let’s get started on the path of finding out why “conventional” joke writing is a lot like trying to dig a swimming pool with a toothpick…

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Part 3

Stand-up Comedy Material Example

Here is just one example of the flawed conventional wisdom that is associated with “joke writing”:

FALSE: Jokes that “read” funny from a piece of paper will be funny when delivered on the stand-up comedy stage.

Below is a powerful stand-up comedy bit that I transcribed from a YouTube video of a very popular and highly successful stand-up comedian — one who engages in extensive work in the high paying corporate-type markets. Please read the stand-up comedy bit as transcribed below and answer the questions follow:

Transcribed Stand-up Comedy Bit #1

We needed a refrigerator for our new place and I’ve never bought a refrigerator in my whole life. I went into the appliance store, there’s 900 of them lined up. There’s a salesman there. What’s this guy supposed to say about refrigerators?

“We have this refrigerator right here. This keeps all your food cold for 600. You’ve got this refrigerator. This keeps all your food cold for 800. Check this out – 1400. Keeps all your food cold.” So this guy’s working me on this one. I’ve never seen a guy work so hard.

“This one is a very nice refrigerator. This one has a meats drawer. And what you do with that is you would put meats, whatever varieties you would choose. These would be your meats, so there’s no requirements on the types of meats you could pick. Bacon, marbled meats — there’s an endless selection. Endless.”

“And this one also has a crisper for crispy things — potato chips.” “Look in the door. When the door is open, this has an egg area. And that’s a very nice thing. It’s an area for eggs. You put them all in the egg area. You come home and go where are the eggs? Right in the egg area.”

“And they’re all written in cursive and that’s a real nice feature.” It is. That is a nice touch.

Here are my questions for you regarding the stand-up comedy bit that you just read:

1. When you read the comedy material above, did you begin laughing out loud? I would be willing to bet my car that you didn’t fall to the ground in uncontrollable laughter when you read that bit. Actually, the chances are extremely high that you didn’t laugh out loud at all.

2. If you handed those bits on a piece of paper to any of your friends, would they fall down laughing when they read it?

3. Can you easily identify which lines in those bits are the punchlines as they are “written” above?

4. Can you identify any type of “formulas” or “joke writing techniques” used in those stand-up comedy bits as transcribed?

5. Can you tell me what critical aspects of laughter generation are missing from those bit as  transcribed above? Now, let’s take a look at the actual video of the comedian performing the stand-up comedy routine above…

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Part 4

The Comedian In Action

Below is the video of comedian who performed the stand-up comedy routine that you reviewed as transcribed in the previous section. His name is Brian Regan.

Before you review the video below, please keep this in mind: You may not care for Brian Regan’s stand-up comedy. As a matter of fact, the chances are great that when you watch the video, you also won’t roll around on the ground in laughter even if you do like their stand-up comedy, especially if…

You are watching the video alone, without the benefit of the audience dynamic that fuels group laughter generated from the stand-up comedy stage. To understand why, you may want to review this article BEFORE you review the video below:

What is extremely important to pay close attention to is the frequent and substantial laughter response that both of these talented performers generate from the live audiences they are performing for as evidenced by the videos:

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For more information about comedian Brian Regan, please visit his official website at BrianRegan.com.

You should also note that the stand-up comedy material above is completely suitable for corporate-type markets.

Now let’s look at the stand-up comedy material from another popular stand-up comedian with a completely different and far less animated delivery style…

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Part 5

Another Stand-up Comedy Material Example

Let’s take a look some stand-up comedy material from another popular comedian — specifically one who has a far more subdued, less animated “style” than the comedian in the last example. Again, please read the stand-up comedy bit as transcribed below and answer the questions follow:

Transcribed Stand-up Comedy Bit #2

But we volunteer for these awkward situations. Sometimes we pay to participate. Like water parks those are fun. But there’s always that moment where you’re like — is this a meeting of people I don’t want to see in swimsuits? Because there are people walking around water parks with that confidence that they shouldn’t have. And you almost admire it. You’re like “You go away from me”. 

You try and figure it out. You’re like is it the fumes from the toxic chemicals combined with the children’s urine? What gives you that swagger that would make Beyonce blush? But you don’t want to be judgmental. You’re like you know what they are there for their kids. I’m here for my kids and compared to them I look like Magic Mike. So I’d bless them.

Again, here are my questions for you regarding the stand-up comedy bit that you just read:

1. When you read the comedy material above, did you begin laughing out loud?

2. If you handed those bits on a piece of paper to any of your friends, would they fall down laughing when they read it?

3. Can you easily identify which lines in those bits are the punchlines as they are “written” above?

4. Can you identify any type of “formulas” or “joke writing techniques” used in those stand-up comedy bits as transcribed?

5. Can you tell me what critical aspects of laughter generation are missing from those bit as  transcribed above? Now, let’s take a look at the actual video of this comedian performing the stand-up comedy routine above…

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Part 6

Another Comedian In Action

Before you review the video below, here’s what I want you to pay very close attention to:

Many people are under the FALSE impression that a particular type of a delivery style matters when it comes to generating headliner laughter levels as a comedian.

The video below is an audio clip of comedian Jim Gaffigan — a comedian who is far more subdued and certainly less animated than Brian Regan, yet he generates a massive laughter response with his stand-up comedy material:

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For more information about comedian Jim Gaffigan, please visit his official website at JimGaffigan.com.

What I want you to be acutely aware of at this point is this:

  • The delivery “style” a comedian has DOES NOT MATTER when it comes to generating headliner level laughter.
  • What is “written” on paper or using a word processor DOES NOT reflect the laughter power that stand-up comedy material can have when delivered live on the stand-up comedy stage.

Now here’s what you really need to know…

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Part 7

The Truth About “Written” Stand-up Comedy Material

Only occasionally will stand-up comedy material that generates big laughs on stage “read” funny from a piece of paper because…

1. The way we communicate verbally is vastly different than the way we are taught to write for others to “read”.

2. Audiences don’t “read” stand-up comedy material — they experience it in three dimensions (words, sight and sound) as it is expressed and delivered by a comedian in their own natural style.

3. Words and sentences as “written” on paper will NEVER accurately represent the attitude, demeanor, nuances, context, intent or any of the other critical delivery and presentation methods that a comedian uses to generate laughter from a LIVE audience with their stand-up comedy material — no matter how well the material is “written” or “reads” from a piece of paper.

If you haven’t figured it out yet…

This course has NOTHING to do with conventional joke writing for reasons that should be more than apparent just from what I have presented in this single lesson so far.

But you don’t have to know anything about conventional “joke writing” in order to develop high powered stand-up comedy material.

This online course involves showing you the step-by-step techniques and strategies for developing and delivering personalized stand-up comedy material that incorporates the well developed sense of humor and comedy talent that you already have (provided you do have comedy talent to start with) for maximum laughter impact.

And I want to be perfectly clear that most of the comedy material that you develop using the system detailed in this course WILL NOT “read” funny from a piece of paper.

The goal of this online course is give motivated and talented people the knowledge, skills, tools and techniques they need to easily develop headliner level comedy material in the shortest time possible.

But developing personalized stand-up comedy material that works well for you and your sense of humor is NOT a “plug peg A into slot B” literal “writing” process as it is perceived or taught today — not if you truly want to understand how laughter generation from the comedy stage or from the speaking podium really works.

I said before that virtually everything that I have to offer in this course is observable and easily verifiable.

I DON’T want you to take my word for any information provided in this course. But I do want you to verify everything I have to offer in this course for yourself. That is the fastest path to real understanding and success that I know of.

This lesson was presented to visually demonstrate to you that vast majority of stand-up comedy material as it is “written” or transcribed on paper doesn’t read funny at all (nor does it ever have to in order to work well on stage).

Now I want you to spend just a few moments to verify that information for yourself:

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Wrap Up

Your Turn

1. Go to YouTube and find a video of your favorite comedian.

2. Transcribe just 1-2 minutes of that video word for word using a word processor or writing down the material on paper.

Note: This won’t take long. I already know that you will only be transcribing 100-200 words if that comedian is performing at headliner levels.

3. Read what you have just transcribed. See for yourself how funny that material “reads” on paper — most of which won’t because huge and significant aspects of the laughter generation process are missing.

Note: If you can visualize the comedian as you read their comedy material as transcribed, more of it will “read” funny than if you cannot visualize the comedian delivering the material. That’s why I want you to do this next…

4. Show the comedy bit that you transcribed to friends, family, or co-workers (without telling them who the comedian is) and see if they fall down laughing or can even guess who the comedian is.

It’s also important to understand that there are significant differences between live “funny” and video “funny” when it comes to stand-up comedy performances because of the different audience dynamics involved:

Now, let’s talk about “joke formulas” and why they don’t work to your advantage at all…

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Training Module One: Intro And Lesson Links