In my previous blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 30: Avoid the Motor Mouth Syndrome, I gave some of the reasons beginner comics stream roll through their shows. In this blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 31: Stop Using Comic’s Clichés – Part 1, I’ll discuss those overused phrases comics constantly use.
How to Be a Comedian – Tip 31: Stop Using Comic’s Clichés – Part 1
There are phrases that all the beginner comics use because they heard some other comic say them. These are what I call comic’s clichés. I’m not discussing societal clichés, which are fodder for material, but those stock phrases that will transform you from a unique individual to a comic stereotype.
I don’t allow my students to use them in my workshops or shows. These clichés are mindlessly said to fulfill some very necessary functions comedian needs to perform. For instance, greeting the audience. If every time you enter the stage you say:
“Hi. How you all doin’ tonight?”
Or some other slight variation, then you’ve entered the hack central. If you integrate these clichés into your show, then you’ll never think of something original to fulfill the function.
Here are only a few:
“Have you ever noticed. . . ?”
“But seriously. . .”
“I don’t want to say. . .”
“What else? What else?”
“What’s that all about?”
“I know what you’re thinking.”
“Let me tell you a little about myself.”
“How many people here…?”
Make note of all these clichés and eliminate them from your show, especially the verbs “love” and “hate.” Why use something so pat when there are so many alternative words for how you feel about a subject which are so much more interesting? Refer to a Thesaurus.
The one exception to this rule is when you wish to satirize them. For instance, several of my students have started their shows by saying:
“Hi. How you all doin’ tonight? Why am I asking you that? I don’t care how you’re doing. I’m fine, thank you.”
In my next blog, How to Be a Comedian – Tip 32: Stop Using Comic’s Clichés – Part 2, I’ll go into the physical comic’s clichés.
How to Be a Comedian – Take Comedy Classes
Greg Dean’s Stand-Up Comedy Workshop