How to Be a Comedian – Tip 20: Rearranging Routines – Part 1

In my previous blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 19: Have an Introduction – Part 3, I’ gave a couple more ideas on how to writing introductions. In this blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 20: Rearranging Routines – Part 1, I’ll talk about the importance of rearranging routines and offer an excellent guideline.

Rewriting jokes isn’t an exact science. It involves as much trial and error as the initial writing. The one luxury is that if your rewrite makes the jokes worse, you can always go back or try another version.

There are many reasons for rearranging the jokes within a routine and the routines within a show. For instance, as you write new material and improve old jokes and routines, the bits that rank as your A material may become your B material and you’ll need to change the order of your show. Or you may want to insert new jokes into established routines. To work the new material in, you’ll probably need to rearrange parts of the routine.

Some say that an audience makes a decision about whether or not you’re funny within the first thirty seconds. That decision can affect the rest of your show and be very tough for you to alter. That’s why it’s important to open with a strong bit. However, the audience tends to remember and judge you by your last few minutes on stage. Some people consider that part of the show to be even more important than the opening. That’s why comics generally arrange their shows to close with their best bit.

Learning Your B, C, A’s

Having gone through the A, B, C’s of comedy, you’re now going to learn the B, C, A’s. A comedy rule of thumb is to open your show with your second-strongest or B material, then can put your weakest stuff or C material in the middle, and finally close with your best or A material. Hence, the routine or show should be ordered B, C, A.

This makes a lot of sense, because if you open with your C material you may lose the audience, but you don’t want to give them your A material first, either. Then you’d have nothing stronger to follow it with, and the show would end with a thud. If you get the audience laughing with your B material, however, it’ll make the C material work even better. Then you can top yourself and close with your A material. The is the best way to create a balanced show.

In my next blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 21: Rearranging Routines – Part 2, I’ll offer more tips and techniques for rearranging routines and bits.

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