In my previous blog, Stand-Up Comedy Classes – Tip 2: What-To Books versus How-To Books, I explained that many so called How-To books only tell you what you need to do, but don’t really teach you how to do it. In this blog, Stand-Up Comedy Classes - Tip 3: Express Your Emotions, I’ll discuss the importance of comedians expressing their emotions about their material.
Stand-Up Comedy Classes – Tip 3: Express Your Emotions
First, think of the comedians who have been on top of their profession for many years. Then ask yourself, “Are they extremely emotional as they do their material?” Even if you can find an exception, you’ll quickly realize that most top comedians express extreme emotions.
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Emotions are the rails on which the audience rides the rollercoaster of your show.
This kind of open expression is call being emotionally associated. Audiences get to know comedians through their emotional responses to their material. audiences read what the comedian likes or dislikes, fights for or fights against, loves or hates. Emotions are also one of the tools used for joke structure. A joke can misdirect by getting the audience to believe he’s sad because his wife left him, and then be surprised to learn he’s really relieved. For instance,
(Sad) “My wife just ran off with my best friend.” (Relieved) “It’s about time.”
Expressing emotions can make a more entertaining show, because the comedian, expressing certain emotions, must move and gesture to articulate their point of view. Emotions have a variety of expressions, not just one attitude. Richard Pryor never behaves the same way twice in a hour and a half concert because he’s emotionally associated.
When the comedian is without emotions the show becomes flat. I refer to this kind of performance as the “Newscaster.” The aim of the news is to communicate facts without personal opinions or emotions. This is called being emotionally dissociated as one’s emotions aren’t expressed in any communication. Performing like a Newscaster is a death sentence for any stand-up comedy show.
The problem is many people have been emotionally shut down by parents, siblings, school mates, teachers, or clergy because of criticism, mockery, abuse, and so forth. When we’re young, our coping mechanism is to turn off any behavior that others disapprove of. We didn’t know how to modify, reconsider, or adjust our behavior, so we turned them off like a light switch. Unfortunately, many people are still living the decisions of that child.
As adults we have more coping skills. We can now reconsider the decisions made by our younger self and choose to become emotionally associated, again. It’s not fun for an audience to ride a rollercoaster that’s on flat ground and only runs straight ahead. So when performing stand-up comedy take everything personally and allow it to affect you emotionally and give the audience a ride with lots of twists, drops, and turns.
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In return, they will scream, laugh, applaud and hold themselves in the chairs so they don’t roll in the aisles. (seatbelts not included)
In my next blog, Stand-Up Comedy Classes - Tip 4: Learn Joke Structure, I’ll discuss how all jokes have a structure and that anyone can understand it.
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