Tweaking The Joke

As a comedian, I get folks all the time that come up to me after shows and say “Yeah, I’m told I’m funny. I could do this.” What people that do this fail to realize is that saying that is a slap in the face to a comic.

There is so much more to being a stand-up comedian than writing jokes. True, writing the jokes is usually 50 percent of the job, but there is a lot more effort going on to make that joke look effortless.

Writing a joke comes in two major classes, those that write the joke down either on paper or on the computer and those that work out their material on stage. There a pros and cons to both styles the biggest con for the first type is that they must work more on the delivery of the joke and not so much the material while on stage. The con of the latter type is that they have a harder time working on the joke, but the delivery comes a lot more naturally, but they are on stage while they do it.

Depending on what type of comic you are or want to be will determine how you will improve on your joke, but there is always work that needs to be done on the joke. The timing of the punchline, what you do with your body, the inflection of your voice, where to make eye contact, and making sure that the setup was clear.

Even one liner jokes need to be worked on. Even if we use as an example, the tired classic “A man walks into a bar, ouch.” The power of the delivery is everything. Say it too quick, not funny. Say it too slow, and it also doesn’t work. The reason we know how to deliver it as it was practiced and tweaked.

Jokes have a life of their own, and they are ever evolving. Comedians need to learn to adjust on the fly for different sound systems, venues, audience sizes, and room energy. It’s not something you are going to learn overnight, it’s going to take time, and it’s going to take plenty of tweaking.


Scott Black

"I am a comedian and screenwriter with over 20 years of stage, screen, digital, print, and broadcast experience. I love to work with fun and creative people."

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