Glossary of Stand Up Comedy Terms
GLOSSARY OF STAND UP COMEDY TERMS
Greg Dean’s Glossary of Stand Up Comedy Terms gives definitions to comedy slag and Dean’s mechanisms of joke structure. To Be Funny…Talk Funny. This glossary of stand up comedy terms helps you know how to be a stand-up comedian by being able to talk the lingo.
1st story: the scenario imagined in the mind of the audience based on the setup of a joke.
2nd story: the scenario imagined in the mind of the audience based on the punch of a joke.
act out: a quick scene with one or more POVs is enacted during a comedian’s show; also see scene work.
ad-lib: to make up a joke within a scripted show.
alternative reinterpretations: a list of meanings or functions of the connector that are not the same as that of the target assumption, one of which will become a reinterpretation.
assumption: 1.) the audience’s expectation that the 1st story will continue along the predicted line of though. 2.) everything one is not experiencing with one’s senses in the present.
beat: take a a pause; to take a break for the purposes of comic timing.
behavioral jokes: jokes constructed with the nonverbal connectors of character, emotions/state of mind, body language/actions, and sound effects.
bit: a section of a stand-up comedy show or routine, also a short routine or a section of a routine.
blue material: jokes using graphic sexual overtones, scatological (toilet) references, and swear words.
bomb: to to perform a comedy show which gets no or few laughs.
booker: a person who hires and/or pays comedians to work in nightclubs.
callback: a joke that refers back to another joke performed earlier in the show; often presented in a different context.
capper: an antiquated term for the final in a series of jokes on the same subject matter which ends the routine with the biggest laugh.
catch phrase: a common phrase said in a extraordinary manner which becomes the trade make of a particular comedian. For instance Steve Martin’s “Excuse me.” or Billy Crystal’s “You look marvelous.”
character: POV the perceptual position achieved when pretending to be someone or something else.
closing line: the final joke of a stand-up comedy show which should get a huge laugh.
comedian: someone who makes his or her living being funny by means of an amusing character.
comic: someone who makes his or her living being funny by telling jokes.
connector: at the center of a joke, the one thing perceived in at least two ways. One way of perceiving it constitutes the target assumption; the second way of perceiving it reveals thereinterpretation.
Critic Spot: a location designated for evaluating one’s show; separate from the Rehearsal Space.
crowd work: verbally bantering with the audience; also see riffing.
emcee: Master or Mistress of Ceremonies; the person who introduces the performers; also see M.C.
feature: the second comedian in the standard three comedian stand-up comedy show line-up; also see middle.
flop sweat: the overabundance of perspiration one experiences from a panic reaction to bombing.
flopping: bombing; not getting laughs.
gag file: a joke file.
gag: a joke.
gig: a show business job.
graphing: a scaling device with dots on paper for evaluating the effectiveness of jokes to determine their proper placement within a routine or show.
hack: comic who performs orverused and unorginal material.
hammocking: a technique for placing weaker material or improvisation between two strong comedy bits.
headliner: the third and last comedian considered the star of a standard stand-up comedy show.
heckler: an audience member who talks and interrupts a show, usually by exchanging insults with the comedian.
improvisation: akin to ad-lib, but usually refers to the spontaneous making up an entire bit or the continual comedic conversing with audience members.
inside joke: a joke referring to information only a select group of people have.
joke: a device for expressing humor that employs a setup which contains a target assumption to misdirect the audience into accepting a bogus 1st story; and a punch which contains areinterpretation which creates a 2nd story that shatters the target assumption.
joke diagram: a visual aid for illustrating the structure of a joke.
joke file: jokes organized and stored on index cards or in a computer.
Joke Map: the first part of the Joke Prospector Writing System starts with a topic, creates apunch-premise, forms a setup-premise, and concludes with writing setups.
Joke Mine: the second part of the Joke Prospector Writing System begins with a setup and explains the process of using the joke mechanisms of target assumption, connector, andreinterpretation, to write a punch.
Joke Prospector Writing System: a joke writing system consisting of the two part of the Joke Mapand the Joke Mine.
jokey: 1. a term used to describe such obvious jokes that one would expect to hear a rim shot following them. 2. a comic’s groupie.
kill: to to give an excellent comedy performance.
laughs per minute: a measurement for counting the number of laughs in a show.
line-up: a list of the comics slated to perform.
LPM: laughs per minute.
M.C.: Master or Mistress of Ceremonies; the person who introduces the performers; also see emcee.
middle: the second comedian in the standard three comedian stand-up comedy show line-up; also see feature.
mike: abbreviation for microphone.
monologue: a speech for one person; in comedy, a stand-up comedy script for a solo comedian.
Narrator POV: the perceptual position achieved when being an observer or non-participant of an experience.
Neuro-linguistic Programming: a behavioral model and set of explicit skills and techniques founded by John Grinder and Richard Bandler. Defined as the study and mapping of the structure of the mind.
NLP: Neuro-Linguistic Programming
on the road: continually working outside of one’s city of residence.
one-liner: a joke made up of only one or two sentences.
one-nighter: a job which only lasts one night.
open-mike: a policy to allow anyone to get on stage and try to be funny.
opener: the first of three comedians in a standard comedy club line-up.
opening line: the first joke of a stand-up comedy routine.
pause: to stop talking in a show to enhance the timing of a joke.
POV: point of view.
POVs: points of view
premise: the central concept from which a series of jokes or a routine is written.
punch: the second part of a joke that contains a reinterpretation that creates a 2nd story thatshatters the setup’s target assumption.
punch line: (same as punch).
punch-premise: a step in the Joke Map stating a negative opinion about a smaller aspect of thetopic.
regulars: comedians who appears frequently at a particular nightclub.
Rehearsal Space: a location designated for practicing one’s show; separate from the Critic Spot.
reinterpretation: an unexpected meaning or function of the connector that shatters the target assumption.
reveal: within the punch, the pivotal word, phrase, or action that exposes or presents the 2nd story’s reinterpretation.
riffing: verbally bantering with the audience; also know as crowd work.
rip into or ripping: to attack, insult, or verbally tear into an audience member or comic who has heckled or otherwise deserves the abuse.
roll: on a delivering a string of jokes so that the audience continues laughing for an extended period without interruption.
routine: jokes all on the same subject or story that can be repeated on a regular basis.
running gag: multiple callbacks; a recurring joke within the same show.
scene work: a quick scene with one or more POVs is enacted during a comedian’s show; also see act out.
segue: a transitional sentence for purposes of leading from one joke or routine to another.
Self POV: the perceptual position achieved when performing as one’s self while participating in an experience.
set: a a stand-up comedy show of any length.
setup: the first part of a joke that contains a target assumption to misdirect the audience into accepting a bogus 1st story.
setup-premise: a step in the Joke Map stating the opposite opinion to that of the punch-premisefrom which setups are written.
shatter: with reference to joke structure, the point at which the audience realized that the target assumption is wrong.
showcase: to perform a stand-up comedy show for little or no compensation for the purposes of getting experience or being seen by a potential employer.
showcase club: a comedy club using a line-up of ten or more comics in a row.
shtick: a Yiddish word meaning a comic scene or piece of business; often implying physical comedy.
sight gag: a physical joke meant to be watched.
stage time: the duration, in minutes, a comedian spends in front of an audience making them laugh.
tag or tag line: an additional punch immediately following a punch that does not require a newsetup.
take: a a comedic facial reaction. Like the long Jack Benny take to the audience.
target: a shorter term for target assumption.
target assumption: the misdirecting assumption in a joke’s setup which creates the 1st story and is shattered by the reinterpretation.
throw away: to put little emphasis on a point usually considered important. time slot the specific spot a comedian occupies within a showcase club line-up.
time slot: the specific spot a comedian occupies within a showcase club line-up.
timing: the use of tempo, rhythm, pause, etc. to enhance a joke, or tailor it to an individual performing situation.
topic: the single and overall subject of a routine based on a problem.
topical jokes: about current events.
topper: an antiquated term referring to a joke playing off a previous joke; same as tag.
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End of Glossary of Stand Up Comedy Terms.