Chapter 5 – Assembling a Comedy Routine

Chapter 5
Assembling a Comedy Routine

How do you get from having a bunch of jokes for a comedy routine or speech and organize them into a coherent form? Assembling a Comedy Routine contains an easy four step system that takes you from chaos to clarity.

Assembling a Comedy Routine
Table of Contents

1. Put Each Joke on a Separate Index Card
2. Organize the Jokes into Categories
3. Arrange Jokes so One Thought Lead to the Next
4. Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite

  • Introduce the Routine
  • Add Segues
  • Reword It Conversationally
  • Search for a Story Line

Assembling a Comedy Routine

It’s so unnatural to just come on stage and start saying your first joke. You’ll want to bring up the subject matter of your routine in the same way that you’d bring it up in normal conversation. You can do this in one of three ways:

The purpose is to bring up your subject matter in a conversational manner, so when I say “state,” I don’t mean you should simply say, “I’d like to talk about the post office.” Actually, that’s not a bad approach, but if you have a show with several routines it’ll soon become repetitive. There are as many ways of bringing up your topic as there are topics, but please don’t ask the cliché question, “How many people here…?” Be original, not stereotypical.

Sometimes stating the topic isn’t enough because the routine requires more information for it to make sense. When this is the case, proclaiming your punch-premise, including its negative opinion, will add the needed information to frame the routine. Just copying the punch–premise from the Joke Map probably won’t suffice; you’ll have to write it as a regular thought. The rules for creating a punch-premise in the Joke Map are for the purpose of writing jokes, not performing them.

Sometimes, a comedy routine will have more of an impact by presenting the setup-premise’s positive opinion, which will often be performed as sarcasm. In such instances, word your setup-premise conversationally, rather than transcribing it directly from the Joke Map.

Deciding whether you introduce your routine with the topic, punch-premise, or the setup-premise is best settled by trying them all. It’ll often be a matter of which lends itself to the best misdirection or which doesn’t give away the joke. Figuring this out will become easier with experience.

Assembling a Comedy Routine teaches a method to assemble your jokes into a comedy routine. A comedy routine begins with the premise of the comedy routine.

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