I don’t agree with that at all.
Let me explain why having great writing skills is NOT a requirement for producing stand-up comedy material that works.
There is a significant difference between writing material that is designed to be read or consumed by a reader and producing material that is designed to be delivered and expressed verbally.
For those who are interested in entertaining "readers", then I will say that “writing” skills are certainly important. But...
Stand-up comedy audiences aren’t readers.
I will be the first to tell you that “writing” in the literary sense can pose great challenges to many, whether it be in developing stand-up comedy material or in any other “writing” avenue for material that the communication is designed to be "read".
However, stand-up comedy doesn’t follow standard “writing” conventions, primarily because we communicate verbally in a way that is very much different than the way we communicate in the written form.
Unfortunately, most stand-up comedy resources focus heavily on the “writing” aspect of stand-up comedy material (in a literary sense), leading one to believe that if they “write” something that reads funny when read, it will be funny on stage when spoken.
The reality is that stand-up comedy material that will get significant laughs on stage is a combination of multiple communication mechanisms working together and not just reliant on the words and sentences as they are "written" or crafted on paper.
If that were the case, there would be no need for comedians. A robot head could be placed on a stick in front of an audience and programmed to simply “talk out” what it has been programmed to say as it was “written” on paper or a word processor.
Here are the main points I want to make:
No, being a great “writer” is NOT required to develop and deliver a powerful stand-up comedy act.
There is a huge difference between trying to “write” something funny and writing down what you want to say and express to an audience in a deliberate and structured way for maximum laughter impact.
In other words, if you know:
- What makes you funny and apply it to your stand-up comedy material
- How to pinpoint topics relative to you and what your audience can visualize
- What a punchline is relative to you and your sense humor
- How to structure your stand-up comedy material for maximum punchline frequency
- How to make targeted and intelligent edits and adjustments to your stand-up comedy material
Then, you have the freedom to talk about just about anything you want (provided it entertains your audiences) without having to be a great "writer" at all.
Some of what you have to say may “read” funny on paper or on a word processor.
But there’s no requirement that any of what you have written down “read” funny at all.
What’s far more important (and far easier than “writing” if you know how) is that the stand-up comedy material you develop and deliver gets the laughs that you want.
And you have got to admit – talking is a heck of a lot easier than “writing”.
Related Lesson: Conventional Joke Writing – The Fastest Path To Failure In Stand-up Comedy