Joke Writing: False Perceptions That Can Hold A Comedian Back

Let’s assume that you want to develop a stand-up comedy routine. If you are like most people, you will focus on joke writing.

And that’s where you will run into some significant problems if you want to develop comedy material that generates audience laughter.

First of all, there’s a huge difference between trying to write something funny in a literary way that is designed to be read instead of designed to be expressed to an audience.



When it comes to joke writing, here are some things you may want to consider:

When Riffing Can Be A Valuable Tool For Comedians

If you have reviewed the article about riffing on my stand-up tips blog, then you know that as a general rule I am not a fan of riffing, especially when it is used as a replacement for a solid and polished stand-up comedy routine.

But there are circumstances when riffing can be a valuable tool for comedians.

One particular instance is when there is a very small audience (10 or less).

In this small audience scenario, a comedian can use riffing to introduce a stand-up comedy bit in a conversational way for a better response than just launching into their stand-up comedy routine.

The key to using riffing effectively in this instance is to ask an audience member a question, have a brief conversational exchange, then transition into the bit related to the question.

Is All Stand-up Comedy Material Based Upon Tragedy?

One of the things that I firmly believe can hold comedians back is how they perceive the terminology often associated with stand-up comedy.

You may come across something that reads like this:

All comedy is based upon tragedy.

While "tragedy" is certainly one basis for comedy material, it tends to lead a person to assume that expressing some major life shattering event is the key to making audiences laugh in a big way.

The reality is that the basis for comedy material is far more diverse than just tragedy as most people would tend to perceive it.

In other words, I believe that a much better characterization for the basis of most comedy actually involves varying degrees of “less than ideal outcomes” on various levels that are personal to the comedian.

Let me give you some examples of what I am referring to (not all inclusive):