How to Be a Comedian – Tip 22: Rearranging Routines – Part 3

In my previous blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 21: Arranging Routines – Part 2, I showed you how to graph your show to create a more effective order of jokes for your routine. In this blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 22: Arranging Routines – Part 3, I’ll give some more ideas about effective ways for arranging routines.


“Hammocking” refers to a technique of hanging weaker or riskier material between tried and true jokes or routines. There are several reasons to employ hammocking:

When you’re trying out new material. The jokes have a better chance of getting a good response if you already have the audience laughing. And if the new material totally bombs, the strong material that follows will bring your show back up.

When you want to practice riffing. Pick a time to do so between strong bits. This keeps you strong going in and strong coming out. If your riffing takes a nose dive, you can pick it back up. If you’re doing well, just continue riffing. Remember, your job is to be funny, not just do your show.

When you’re filling the time with untested material. For instance, if you only have twenty-five minutes worth of material and you book a forty-five minute gig, you’ll be throwing in everything you’ve ever thought of. Stretching yourself like this is very good for you as an artist, but it’s stressful. One way to maximize your material is to hammock the uncertain bits so they’re surrounded by routines that consistently get laughs.

End With the Sex Material

Here’s something else worth considering when you’re structuring your show: People tend to laugh harder at sexual material than they do at non-sexual material. Since that’s the case, it follows that you should end your show with sex jokes. To test this theory out, rent any of Richard Pryor’s concert videos. He always ends with dick jokes. Watch Jay Leno’s monologues on the Tonight show. Nine times out of ten he closes on a big laugh from a joke with sexual subject matter.

This doesn’t mean that you should end your show with raunchy material. Sex jokes can be playful without being crass. But whether it’s playful or raunchyCend your show with the sex jokes.

Place the More Controversial Bits Near or at the End of Your Show

Controversial material often works better after you’ve gained acceptance with the audience. A routine that could alienate the crowd if you opened with it may work just fine once you and the audience have become friends.

In my next blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 23: Warming Up – Part 1, I’ll suggest some  reasons to warm up before going on stage.

How to Be a Comedian – Take Comedy Classes

Greg Dean’s Stand-Up Comedy Workshop

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