Improving Your Stand Up Comedy Routine

Rewriting Your Jokes

Reworking and rephrasing should also be included as part of rewriting your jokes. Do not confuse this with rearranging your show, which is for reworking your show. They do go hand in hand, but they are separate tasks. As you rewrite your jokes, you will need to rearrange your routine, and as you rearrange your routine you will need to rewrite your jokes. They are discussed separately so that you fully understand how each will help you improve your show.

When you do find a joke does not work, do not just remove it from your show. You want to discover why it didn’t work first. Go to your practice area and practice that joke again; practicing the joke will give you more insight into what may be keeping it from getting the laughs you want. If you feel it is a good joke but just isn’t working, keep practicing until it works. Here are some things you can do to help make it funnier: Ensure the audience clearly heard the joke.

Listen to the recording of your show to see if you mumbled, misspoke, stuttered a word, or were just too quiet. It is amazing how many times a joke doesn’t get a laugh because the audience cannot hear it.

Use the joke framework to check the structure of your joke. Analyze your joke using the joke framework. Ensure that all parts of the joke work well together. Are you getting the audience to your desired assumption in the setup? Is your connection clear? Is the reinterpretation surprising? Are you completely revealing story two in the punchline?
If you feel your joke is not getting the laughs that it deserves, rewrite it until you get those laughs. Sometimes you may need to just articulate the joke better.

Practice and Present Again

Improving your show needs to be constant. Now that you have a new and improved version of your show, you need to practice it using the practice model and perform it live again. The more you perform and review your shows, the better you will get by using the feedback from your audience on what works and what doesn’t work. Remember to record every show so that you can go back and review both your performance and the audience’s reaction during your show.

You will find that your show needs fewer changes the more your revise it and soon you will be continually getting big laughs with every joke. Continually improve your show and you will become a great comedian.

Improving Your Stand-Up Comedy

Rearranging Your Routine

You may need to rearrange your routine for several reasons including writing new material, improving jokes, removing jokes, and how your jokes rank. Or you may want to use a joke that has been in your file for a while. When you include new or rewritten jokes, you will have to rearrange your routing.

It is very important that you open with strong jokes because the audience will make a decision about how funny you are within the first 30 seconds of your routine. That decision will affect the rest of your show and is very difficult to alter once you have started. On the flip side, the audience remembers you by your last couple of minutes on stage, so you also want to end with strong jokes. Most comedians will close their shows with their strongest jokes. Here are some strategies for rearranging your show:

Use your B, C, A’s.

Your best shows will open with your B material and close with your A material, while all the rest of your material falls somewhere in the middle. So you will use your B, C, A’s to order your show. Opening with your B material allows you to get the audience laughing and leaves room for you to get even better. Closing with your A material will allow you to end your show with a bang and leave a good impression on the audience. Sandwiching your average material in the middle allows you room to show a scaled increase in your show.

Draw a graph of your show. As you review your show and rank each joke, plot it on a graph. At the end you will be able to see how each joke ranked throughout your show and judge your overall performance. You will be able to see where your high points were and where your low points were. You want the graph to show a gradual increase rather than having it go up, then down, then up, and so on. This will ensure that you have a steady pace throughout your show that keeps the audience engaged and laughing.

Use the hammock technique. This is where you place a weaker piece of material between two strong pieces. This technique works for several reasons.

• You will have a better chance of your new material getting a good response because the audience will already be laughing. And if it bombs you have a chance to bring the show back up with your next joke.

• It provides a great opportunity to practice your bantering skills. Using a small gap in between two strong pieces of material will allow you to go into your riffing or bantering on a high and come out on a high whether your riffing is good or bad.

• You will be able to fill time. You may only have 25 minutes worth of material but you have a 45 minute time slot and you will be using everything you have.

This is great for improving your skills as a comedic artist, but it can be extremely stressful. If you have pieces that you are uncertain about, use the hammock technique to ensure that you get constant laughter instead of causing the audience to stop laughing.

Include sex material at the end. This is definitely worth considering when you structure your show because, for some reason, people laugh harder at sexual material. For this reason you should end your show with sex jokes. Keep in mind, that this doesn’t mean it has to be raunchy, but be playful.

Use your controversial material near the end. This works better if you have gained the audience’s approval. Controversial material could alienate your audience so you do not want to open with it. However, if you find that the audience has approved of you then by all means end with the controversial material.

Using these strategies as you rearrange your show may help you create a new story line causing you to rewrite a few of your jokes, which in turn, can lead to even more rearranging. Remember that you can only do so much on your own. After you have rewritten and rearranged your material into a decent show, you can only improve upon it more by performing in front of an audience.

Improving Your Stand Up Comedy Act

Get Stage Time

The best education you can have as a beginning comedian is on the stage. This book is sharing several strategies and techniques with you, but the only way to truly learn how to be funny is to get stage time. You need to stop waiting for the right time and just get out there now.

If you have a love for making people laugh, then use that as your motivation to get out there and learn. As you get your stage time you will learn what does, and what doesn’t, work through a process called trial and error. Yes, you will fail, but remember that failing is the best learning experience. You will not improve if you do not perform in front of live audiences.

Practice performing anywhere there is a group of people

You need experience to improve your performance. Getting the experience may not be a fun process, but you need to put together a strong 20-25 minute show that you can consistently get laughs from night after night. Once you have that show that continually works for you, you will be able to start getting paid work. However, until that point you still need to get the experience. The following section will give you suggested opportunities to get that experience.

Open Mike Night

Nightclubs, restaurants, coffee houses, and other places provide ample opportunities for beginning comedians to perform a three to six minute comedy show. You will be able to get laughs anywhere if you can get laughs at open mike nights. There are some things that you need to know before undertaking the open mike nights.

You may not be treated fairly

It is going to be tough. You will most likely be slotted early in the show before anyone is there or late in the show after everyone has left. There will be times when you get lucky and have an audience, but they will most likely be other comedians waiting their turn or drunks that couldn’t care less. Whatever the case, keep your belief in yourself and the process.

Learn when the sign-ups are

More often than not you will have to sign-up earlier in the day, or even the week if not earlier. It will take time, but you need to be committed to making the sign-ups so that you can get your practice on stage.

Regulars will take over

Even though you have a specified slot, the regulars may take over and bump you later into the show. The worst case is that they bump you completely off the roster. It will get frustrating, but keep at it and keep your cool. The more you perform at a given club, the more seniority you will gain.

Pay attention to your cues

Most of the time the club or coffee house will have a signal of some sort that lets you know when it is time to get off the stage. Pay attention to it. Learn where it is and how it works, and watch for it during your show. You have about 30 seconds after your signal before they get forceful or even ask you to never return.