How to Be a Comedian – Tip: 25 – Acknowledge Idiosyncrasies

In my previous blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 24: Warm Up – Part 2, I gave more ways to warm up before going on stage. In this blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 25: Acknowledge Idiosyncrasies, I’ll discuss why comedians need to talk about things the audience may fixate on in order to get their attention back on the show.

How to Be a Comedian – Tip: 25 – Acknowledge Idiosyncrasies

If there’s something about you the audience might fixate on, you must address it so they’ll let it go and you can get on with your show. The kind of things I’m eluding to a re usually physical, but they can also be personality traits. For instance, if you are very obese, have one crossed eye, your national origin is unclear, you have a physical tic or a missing or deformed limb, these things need to be addressed so the audience can relax and enjoy your comedy instead of wondering about these anomalies.

It’s not always a physical attribute that needs to be acknowledged; sometimes it’s a personality trait. An example of this is my student Sharky. He’s a very nice man, but there’s something a little edgy about his manner that sometimes makes the audience uncomfortable. I suggested he broach this with a joke. He did:

If you don’t like me but you like my jokes, do what you do at home – close your eyes and pretend I’m someone else.”

This next example is also about one of my students, Jeff Pines. He came to my class a bit shy because he has a speech impediment. When he speaks you can understand him, but he has an obvious lisp and I felt it needed to be addressed. Preferably with a joke. I wasn’t sure how Jeff would take my advice, but in class the following week Jeff began his show with this:

Greg says I have a speech impediment. Maybe it’s just that your ears are screwed up.”

This was very funny because not only did he reverse the situation, he got to bag on the teacher. Well, Jeff went on to the advanced workshop where he continued to make up jokes about his lisp. Then on the joke writing night of the workshop, I mentioned that he could turn his lisp into a character. From this Speech Impediment Man was born. Every week the Speech Impediment Man routine got funnier and funnier with jokes like:

Wherever there’s a drunk who needs me to translate for him, I’ll be there.”

Then, during his routine on showcase night, Jeff surprised everyone by tearing open his shirt to reveal a T-shirt sporting a Superman logo with an extra “I” in the middle of it to signify Speech Impediment Man. The audience roared; I think I even heard a couple of foreheads hit a table. This is an excellent example of turning a distraction into an asset through a willingness to have a sense of humor about it.

In my next blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 26: Have an Opening Line, I’ll discuss the importance of getting that first laugh quickly.

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