Writing Stand-up Comedy Material Involves More Than Just "Writing"

One of the major roadblocks most comedians have involves the perception of the terminology used to describe the process of producing stand-up comedy material.

Specifically, I am talking about the term “writing stand-up comedy material”.

Here are some reasons why I say that the perception that seems to be associated with writing stand-up comedy material can often a roadblock:

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We are trained from a very early age to write in a way that is usually quite a bit different from the way we actually speak and communicate verbally.

This is because “writing” in the traditional sense focuses only on words and is produced (the way we have been trained to "write") in a manner designed to be consumed by a reader.

Simply dealing with words alone can be somewhat problematic for a comedian because it takes many more words to convey anything in writing than it does when we communicate verbally.

Developing a high level stand-up comedy act – one that generates 4-6+ laughs for each performing minute – demands an economy of words.

Writing is usually dependent upon many more words because only words are being used.

Verbal communication involves more than words, which allows us to use far less words than the traditional “writing” process.

And you will hear me say over and over again that audiences don’t read stand-up comedy material. They experience it as it is delivered and expressed by the comedian.

Now as far as “writing” goes, one of the best platforms for comedians to use is Twitter. You only get 140 characters to make and complete a comment, thought, experience, opinion or view.

In other words, if you are trying to write something funny, on Twitter you have 140 characters to deliver a set-up and punchline.

And you can gauge the popularity of your writing on Twitter by the number of times a post is retweeted by others.

But also keep this in mind:

Just because something reads funny does not mean that it will be funny when delivered to an audience.

Unfortunately, many new comedians are under the impression that if they write stand-up comedy material that reads funny that it will automatically cause audiences to howl with laughter.

And when that doesn’t happen, they grapple with trying figure out where the disconnect is. They can begin to question their own sense of humor.

The reality is that writing that is intended to be read is a one dimensional process.

Delivering stand-up comedy material that gets laughs is a three dimensional process that involves more than words alone.

That’s why much of stand-up comedy material that will work on stage for any particular individual won’t necessarily “read” funny.

All I know is this:

Given the proper guidance, it’s a heck of a lot easier (and faster) to produce stand-up comedy material without the pressure of having it all “read” funny than to try to “write” stand-up comedy material that is dependent on words alone.

And what's important above all else is that no matter what system, method or process a comedian uses to develop their stand-up comedy material that they get the laughter responses that they want.


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