In my previous blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 27: Closing Line, I covered the importance of having a joke to get off stage with a laugh. In this blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 28: No Questions as Segues – Part 1, I’ll discuss the overuse of asking the audience a question to bring up a new subject.
How to Be a Comedian – Tip 28: No Questions as Segues – Part 1
Of all of the comics’ clichés, asking a question as a means of bring up a new subject matter is the most frequently abused and the biggest waste of valuable stage time. It’s a personal quest of mine to eradicate this mindless affectation from stand-up comedy. Watch some stand-up comedy shows and count the number of times the comics use a question as a segue.
It always starts with the phrase:
“How many people here. . . ?”
“By a show of hands, how many people here…?
Not only is it annoying, but it requires a show of hands or an audible response from the audience. Then, the comic usually ignores the response because he isn’t interested in it. He’s simply trying to make a transition from one subject to another. If the comic does acknowledge the response, it’s only to dismiss it so he can get into his routine.
For instance, I saw a female comic who used this question as a segue to get into her routine about phobias:
“How many people here have a phobia?”
This drew a strong response from a lady in the back of the room, who yelled:
“Oh, I do. I have a horrible fear of spiders.”
Since the female comic didn’t really want a response, she dismissed the lady with the spider phobia by saying,
“Whatever. I have a fear of heights.”
and went on with her routine. The audience soured on the comic because she asked them a question but then callously shut down someone who responded.
In my next blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 29: No Questions as Segues – Part 2, I’ll continue to go over the problems associated with asking questions as segues.