In my previous blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 2: What-To Books versus How-To Books, I explained that many so called How-To books only tell you what you need to do, but don’t really teach you how to do it. In this blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 3: Express Emotions, I’ll discuss the importance for comedians to express emotions about their material.
Greg Dean Comedy Tip 3:
First, think of the comedians who have been on top of their profession for many years. Then ask yourself, “So they express emotions as they do their material?” Even if you can find an exception, you’ll quickly realize that most top comedians express emotions as a part of their performance.
Greg Dean Comedy Advice:
Emotions are the rails on which the audience rides the rollercoaster of your show.
This kind of open expression is call being emotionally associated. Audiences get to know comedians through how they express emotions as responses to their material. When the comedians express emotions, the audiences read what the comedian likes or dislikes, fights for or fights against, loves or hates. To express emotions is used for joke structure. A joke can misdirect by getting the audience to believe he’s sad because his wife left him, and then be surprised to learn he’s really relieved. For instance,
(Sad) “My wife just ran off with my best friend.” (Relieved) “It’s about time.”
Expressing emotions can make a more entertaining show, because the comedian, expressing certain emotions, must move and gesture to articulate their point of view. Emotions have a variety of expressions, not just one attitude. Richard Pryor never behaves the same way twice in a hour and a half concert because he’s emotionally associated.
When comedians shows go flat because they don’t express emotions, I refer to this kind of performance as the “Newscaster.” The aim of the news is to communicate facts without personal opinions or emotions. This is called being emotionally dissociated as the comedian doesn’t express emotions in any communication. Performing like a Newscaster is a death sentence for any stand-up comedy show.
The problem is many people have been emotionally shut down by parents, siblings, school mates, teachers, or clergy because of criticism, mockery, abuse, and so forth. When we’re young, our coping mechanism is to turn off any behavior that others disapprove of. We didn’t know how to modify, reconsider, or adjust our behavior, so we turned them off like a light switch. Unfortunately, many people are still living the decisions of that child.
As adults we have more coping skills. We can now reconsider the decisions made by our younger self and choose to express emotions, again. It’s not fun for an audience to ride a rollercoaster that’s on flat ground and only runs straight ahead. So when performing stand-up comedy take everything personally and allow it to affect you and express emotions and give the audience a ride with lots of twists, drops, and turns.
In return, the audience will scream, laugh, applaud and hold themselves in the chairs so they don’t roll in the aisles (seatbelts not included).
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In my next blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 4: Learn Joke Structure, I’ll discuss how all jokes have a structure and that anyone can understand it.
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Greg Dean Comedy Tips 3: Express Emotions
Greg Dean’s Stand-Up Comedy Classes Los Angeles