Comedy and Business

The 10 Problems of Memorizing Words – Part 2

First, read Part 1.

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In my last article, The 10 Problems of Memorizing Words - Part 1, I discussed five of the problems. Here in The 10 Problems of Memorizing Words - Part 2, I’ll explain five more problems associated with memorizing the words of speeches, presentations, or routines. Memorizing Words - Problem 6 Even if speakers remember the words correctly, they still aren’t a very effective means of communicating. The following is the work of University of California at Los Angeles professor Dr. Albert Mehrabian, in the book (Silent Messages published by Wadsworth 1971), and it demonstrates the relative effectiveness of the three ways



The 10 Problems of Memorizing Words – Part 1

Are you using the right mental software?

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Memorizing words of a speech, presentation, or routine is the most common type of rehearsal, and exactly what creates recurring performing problems. I’ve identified 10 problems which are caused by memorizing the words and their consequences. When rehearsal is done by repeating the words over and over, they get encoded in the internal self talk voice. Then in order to recall the words, the speakers must go inside their heads and listen to their self talk say the words before repeating them to the audience. Memorizing Words - Problem 1 Most people do not understand that normal memory is done by recalling pictures, sounds and feelings. For instance, when someone tells a story, they remember what they’ve seen, heard, and felt which gets expressed through body lang



Rehearse Right…Perform Right

How you rehearse is how you will perform.

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To express your real sense of humor on a stand-up comedy stage, you have to be funny in the same way that you’ve been funny all your life. In my experience I’ve found improper rehearsal to be the number one factor that causes people to lose touch with their natural sense of humor. For instance, if you rehearse by pacing back and forth, looking at the ground and trying to remember what you’re supposed to say next, then you’ll perform pacing back and forth, staring at the ground, and still trying to remember what you’re supposed to say next. Conversely, if you rehearse a joke as if it were something that really happened to you, pretending that you’re relating to an audience and having fun with your material, then you’ll perform as if the material really happened to you, you’ll relate to the audience,



Fear of Going Blank on Stage

My point is…ummmmmm.

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Going blank in the middle of a show or presentation is one of the most common fears of being in front of people. The number one reason people go blank on stage is the fear of going blank. From a teacher’s perspective, I believe the sooner you go blank on stage the better. You’ll handle it and survive. Once you realize that going blank on stage is no big deal, you can not only cope with going blank, but you’ll turn it into something funny. Here are some tips to help with the fear of going blank on stage: Be Honest The audience won’t mind if you forget for a moment, but they’ll want to know what’s going on. Don’t try to hide it. Admit it outright. Just say, “I’ve just forgotten everything I’ve ever known.” The audience will probably empathize with y



Use Jokes to Make a Point

Funny is as funny does.

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I’ve heard many times the greatest jokes reveal some truth. I agree, yet there’s more to it if you want to convey a message. For decades, I’ve been using jokes and funny stories to make a point in life, classrooms, and business. Here’s how you can do the same. Collect Jokes and Joke Books I’ve got a huge collection of joke books. Many of them are out of print and must be found in used book stores in the humor section. Classic ones like Milton Berle’s Joke File to Judy Brown’s series of books quoting famous comedian. I set a joke book in my restroom and when I take a moment, I read a few jokes in passing. Just using this method, I’ve read dozens of joke books. The idea is to have joke books around to read at any spare time. You’ll need to read hundreds of jokes to find the ones whic



Secrets of Setup and Punch

Do your jokes snap like a rubber band?

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To get an audience to think or to respond are two very different functions for creating a setup and punch material. Most funny people never make this distinction when constructing setup and punch because they don't understand the mental dynamics between thinking and responding. I propose that for a joke to be most effective, a setup should cause the audience to think, and the punch should elicit an instant respond. To get the audience to think and then respond is much like someone aiming a rubber band at someone’s arm. This causes the person being aimed at to think about the impending assault, which creates tension. When the rubber band is released, the impact causes an instant response. Just like a good setup and punch. With one-liners, the function of the setup is to get the au



The Ultimate Comedy Secret to Success

Tag it or bag it.

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One of the most important and powerful comedy secret in a comedian’s arsenal to get laughs is the Tag. A tag is punch after a punch without a new setup. For instance this Jerry Seinfeld joke: Setup: “Bozo the Clown. Do we really need ‘the Clown’? Are we going to confuse him with…” Punch: “Bozo the Tax Attorney?” Tag1: “Bozo the Pope?” Notice how Seinfeld created a clear Setup and Punch, and then added another Punch that didn’t require a new Setup. By not using a new Setup, he was able to get two laughs off the original Setup. This is how Tags work. This comedy secret doesn’t have to stop there. When doing story telling comedy, the story is the through line of the routine, but it can be constructed with a Setup, Punch,



Teaching Comedy Technique to Anyone

Can everyone really learn to be funnier?

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I’m constantly asked, “How do you teach comedy?”  The answer to that would be a novella. So, I’ll just focus on one aspect of my process for teaching comedy technique as a series of skills. That’s right…skills. Skills allow students to practice and apply any comedy technique to their own sense of humor. This keeps the teacher’s sense of humor out of the process and gives tools to the students to develop their individual comic voice. Over the last thirty-five years, I’ve developed a process for identifying and teaching the comedy techniques used by great comedy writers and professional funny people. My process is based on these three steps. Identify the Comedy Technique Create a Practicable Exe



Steal Comedy Techniques, Not Jokes

Where are the fundamentals of comedy?

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When I first got into teaching stand-up comedy, I quickly realized there were no organized fundamentals of comedy for teaching joke writing and being funny. Every other field had established fundamentals and even different schools of thought about them. For instance, sports, acting, cooking, writing, dancing, art, and music could be learned through mastering the fundamental skills of its corresponding field. Where were the fundamentals of comedy for joke writing and being funny in front of an audience? At the time, there were several books which offered some help. They gave advice or examples of what the author did to be funny, but nothing was presenting a clear unified series of the fundamentals for comedy. I wondered if they even existed.  Yet, I’d watch comedians get funnier year afte



2 Writing Tips to Make Any Show Funnier

WTF = Write The Funny

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There are several writing tip professional comedians know that can punch up a show. They have certain cues within a show or script and are easy to implement. Wrting Tips 1: Use “K” Words The hard consonant sounds, especially “K,” which include hard “C” and “Qu” and, to a lesser extent, “T”, “P”, hard “G”, “D” and “B,” tend to be funnier. Using words with hard consonants, instead of synonyms with softer sounds can really improve a joke. Yes, I’m perfectly aware that this seems a little silly, but it happens to be true. Most comics who’ve been in the business long enough will tell you the same thing. “Words with a “K” in them are funny.” - Neil Simon For instance



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