One of the things that new comedians should be aware of is how to gauge their performance levels and use that information to improve their stand-up comedy performances in the shortest time possible.
There are a couple of ways to do this objectively:
- Count the number of laughs generated
- Measure the accumulated seconds of laughter generated
Let me cover each of these separately and then explain why you should use them both together.
Counting the number of collective audience laughs in any given performing minute is a direct indicator of punchline frequency.
Comedians should strive to generate 4-6+ laughs per minute. Too few laughs in any given minute of a stand-up comedy routine are an indicator of:
- Too many set-up lines before a punchline and/or
- Punchlines that didn’t get laughs
While counting the laughs generated in each performing minute reflects punchline frequency, it does not give any indication of the laughter intensity related to those punchlines.
Let me put this another way:
A comedian could deliver 4-6 punchlines each minute and generate 4-6 laughs from those punchlines.
But if the laughs generated in a performing minute are only 1 second long, that means that the comedian only generated 4-6 seconds of laughter in a performing minute.
That basically equates to bombing in the world of stand-up comedy.
This is why counting the number of laughs generated each minute by itself is not the most accurate way to determine performance levels.
Ideally, comedian should strive to generate an average of 4-6+ laughs per minute which results in an average of 18+ seconds of laughter per minute.
That is headline level stand-up comedy as demonstrated by headliner comedians for decades.
Note: Very small audience size, poor seating or both have an impact on a comedian’s ability (regardless of experience level) to reach an average of 18+ seconds of laughter even with optimal punchline frequency.
The best approach to using the information that I have provided is to examine both the number of laughs per minute and the seconds of laughter generated, which will then help to nail down:
- Not enough punchlines and/or punchlines that aren’t working and
- The laughter impact of the punchlines that are working
Probably the biggest value of using these performance measurement processes is that it can provide a comedian with valuable and objective baseline data upon which to improve their stand-up comedy performances in a meaningful and targeted way for faster results as opposed to simply using trial and error like most comedians do.