To the maximum extent possible, you want to avoid what I can only describe as “blind trial and error” in the process of developing and delivering your stand-up comedy routine.
Here’s something that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt:
The longer it takes a person to start making some progress and actually getting laughs on the stand-up comedy stage, the greater the likelihood that they will abandon trying to become a comedian.
Usually, this has nothing to do with whether or not they have enough comedy talent.
In most instances, it boils down to the fact they end up engaging in “blind trial and error” in order to try to develop and deliver a stand-up comedy act that gets ANY noteworthy laughs.
A typical scenario of “blind trial and error” works something like this:
The new comedian tries to “write” jokes
The new comedian tries to get the jokes they have written on stage with little preparation or rehearsal in advance
The stand-up comedy material that they “wrote” flops, generating few if any laughs
The new comedian completely revises their stand-up comedy material without so much as a clue as to how to actually make it work better
The new comedian goes back on stage and their new stand-up comedy material flops again
The new comedian tries to become a different “character” in hopes that it is this aspect that is causing their stand-up comedy material to flop
The new comedian then resort to delivering crude, rude, sexually graphic or offensive stand-up comedy material – and it too flops
The new comedian repeats the process over and over again using various “combinations” of what I have just described until something finally works or it’s time to bail out altogether
Doesn’t paint a pretty picture, does it? But if you have even a single doubt that what I have just described is inaccurate…
Verify what I have just presented. Simply sit through several stand-up comedy open mic nights ANYWHERE on the planet. You will see for yourself exactly what I am talking about is accurate or not.
The sad part is this:
In the commonly used “process” that I have just described, new comedian never has a clue as to why their stand-up comedy material isn’t working.
Even if they are able to deliver something that gets a laugh, they don’t know why it happened and they are in no position to repeat that with other material they have developed.
This is what I mean when I am referring to “blind trial and error”.
Here’s what you need to know:
Developing and delivering stand-up comedy material that will generate laughs involves two aspects: off stage work and on stage work.
Both of these aspects are connected like your fingers are connected to your hand. In other words, if one aspect is poorly developed or executed, the other aspect suffers significantly as well.
Ideally, when it comes to off stage work (which is the lion’s share of the work involved when developing a stand-up comedy act for the stage), the new comedian knows:
What makes them funny in everyday life and how to apply their “funny” or natural comedy talent to their stand-up comedy material
How to identify and select topics as a base for their stand-up comedy material that have the best possibility of getting laughs
What a punchline is relative to their own personality and sense of humor
How to structure their stand-up comedy material into a stand-up comedy routine that generates 4-6+ laughs per minute when they are performing
How to properly prepare to deliver their stand-up comedy material for the best possible opportunity of generating laughter
Note: What I have described is only an overview. There’s much to know about this aspect of developing and preparing to deliver stand-up comedy material. Fortunately, none of it is difficult to understand or apply.
It is at this point that a comedian can take their stand-up comedy material on stage with the greatest amount of confidence possible.
Now here’s the additional off stage work that separates the rookies from the pros:
The smart comedian who wants to move as quickly as possible “up the ranks” gets a video recording of their stand-up comedy performances for later review so that they can identify:
Low punchline frequency
Punchlines that didn’t work
Any other intelligent adjustments they can make in order to edit or even eliminate material
Note: Again, while there is much to know in this area, none of which is difficult to understand or apply.
What I have just described is an overview of the process to eliminate or significantly reduce “blind trial and error” when it comes to developing and delivering high level stand-up comedy material.
But make no mistake:
There is NO way to totally eliminate trial and error when it comes to stand-up comedy material.
As I said earlier, developing and delivering stand-up comedy material that will generate laughs is a process.
Sometimes you will produce and deliver stand-up comedy material that you KNOW will get big laughs when it doesn’t.
There will be other times that you produce and deliver stand-up comedy material and it gets unexpected laughter – much bigger than you anticipated.
But I also know this:
The more effective and efficient your process is for developing and delivering stand-up comedy material right from the beginning – the faster (and more consistently) you will get the laughs you want when you perform.
Not only that:
Producing high level stand-up comedy material WILL become easier and easier as you gain more and more stage experience and get more and more “into the groove” with the process you are using to develop and deliver your stand-up comedy material – provided that process works in the first place.