Have you ever been in a conversation when someone began to tell a joke and it just seems to go on and on with set-up information?
Then when they finally get to the punchline of the joke, it becomes immediately apparent that it simply didn’t have the impact to justify having to endure the long set-up leading to the punchline.
The exact same problem exists in stand-up comedy. New comedians will spend far too much time setting up for the punchlines in their stand-up comedy material.
Here’s why this is an important issue to overcome:
A comedian is not going to make much progress until they can generate an average of 4-6+ laughs per performing minute (optimally producing 18+ seconds of audience laughter each performing minute which is headline level).
Note: You can verify this by simply reviewing established headliner comedian videos on YouTube.
There are only 60 seconds in a minute. The more time a comedian spends talking before getting to a punchline, the fewer the punchlines they will be able to deliver in any given minute.
One of the factors that contribute to this issue actually involves “writing” stand-up comedy material in a manner similar to trying to write an article or a short story.
The reason I say that is because tradition “writing” the way that we are taught only involves the use of words and doesn’t account for the other communication mechanisms we use when we communicate verbally that decrease the number of words needed.
In other words, far more words are needed when words are the only consideration when producing stand-up comedy material.
There are a number of factors that have an impact on the length of the set-up for any stand-up comedy joke like:
- Knowing what a punchline is relative to an individual’s sense of humor
- Punchline frequency relative to the stand-up comedy material being delivered
- Applying natural body language to reduce the number of words needed to get to the punchline
This is by no means an all-inclusive list.
What is important to understand is that being able to develop and deliver stand-up comedy material that gets noteworthy laughs involves multiple aspects that work together effectively.
And it doesn’t matter if a comedian delivers stand-up comedy material in the old school “string of individual jokes” way or delivers topic based material.
There are still only 60 seconds in a minute and a comedian needs to be able to generate an average of 4-6+ laughs each performing minute.
That includes the set-up lines and the punchlines.
Needless to say that it is important for comedians to know how develop AND structure their stand-up comedy material in a way that will get them the laughter frequency they need to get ahead.