Understanding Comedy Mechanics

Even though it has been many years ago, at the time I vividly remember what I thought was the hardest obstacle to overcome when I first started out as a comedian, which was...

To try to "come up with" my first 3 minutes of great comedy material.

One of a number of reasons that I had such difficulty is because I didn’t understand what comedy mechanics were or how to apply them to developing stand-up comedy material.



In a nutshell, comedy mechanics are the combination of every aspect of what person uses to express themselves to others that creates a laughter response. The important things to note are: 

An individual’s comedy mechanics are exactly the same off stage as they are on stage as a comedian.

Are there differences? Yes, such as conversations among friends are responsive dialogues and stand-up comedy is a primarily a monologue.

Still, the comedy mechanics are the same and are unique to each individual. 

One of the reasons why trying to learn joke formulas in order to develop stand-up comedy material tends to be fruitless is that they are after-the-fact descriptions of “similar techniques used to generate laughter but are not collectively representative of the natural techniques any particular person uses to generate laughter.

Let me put this another way. The techniques and methods anyone uses to generate laughs in any environment may or may not fall into any particular “joke formula” category or in any particular predefined combination.

The good news is that a naturally funny person need not waste time trying to learn joke formulas if they know how to recognize what makes them funny in everyday life and apply those same comedy mechanics when developing stand-up comedy material as a comedian.

Once a comedian understands this, they find that...

Producing 3 minutes of stand-up comedy material can be pretty darn easy. As a matter of fact...

They can be in a position where they will never have enough stage time to talk about all the things they want to communicate to others if you understand comedy mechanics (among other elements) and have no fear when it comes to using the sense of humor that they already have.

Don’t get me wrong – there are a number of important things to know when it comes to developing and delivering a stand-up comedy routine that will get big laughs consistently beyond understanding comedy mechanics.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult if you know what you are doing.

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