In my previous blog, Stand-Up Comedy Classes – Tip 3: Some Performing Advice, I offered several tips to improve a comedy show. In this blog, Stand-Up Comedy Classes – Tip 4: Learn Joke Structure, I’ll explain several advantages of knowing joke structure.
Stand-Up Comedy Classes – Tip 4: Learn Joke Structure
Most comedians do not understand joke structure. Even with this lack of knowledge, working comedians can and do write great jokes. My intent isn’t to bash comedians, but rather to illustrate the advantages of knowing joke structure and to encourage working and beginner comedians to learn the mechanisms there. BTW joke structure is taught in my stand-up comedy classes Los Angeles. The first advantage of understanding joke structure is that it makes it easier to write jokes. All jokes have a very specific structure. It’s confusing because not all jokes have performed setups and some jokes have implied punches. So to try and understand jokes structure only using the setup and punch model is futile. Instead, I teach that all jokes have five mechanisms which connect setup and punch. Using these five mechanisms I’ve developed the first new joke writing system in the last hundred years, the Joke Prospector. This is also taught in my stand-up comedy classes Los Angeles. . Joke writing from inspiration often works best, because the jokes are created from an intuition sent from the unconscious mind. The downside is that comedians must wait for a bolt of comedic lightning. If they understood joke structure, they’d be able to generate jokes at will, by using these five mechanisms. This is significant because working by inspiration alone hampers the quantity of material a comedian can generate. And as every comedian knows…you can never have too much material.
The next advantage to knowing joke structure is being able to analyze and fix jokes. Often the intuitive joke writer will know there’s something off with a joke, but just can’t quite figure it out. Using the five mechanisms can help pinpoint specifically what’s not working in a joke, which leads to the ability to correct it. In most stand-up comedy classes, the comedy teachers only know if a joke works or it doesn’t, not why. A few can correct the jokes, but since they don’t understand joke structure they cannot teach their students how to do this for themselves. I’m very proud that in my stand-up comedy classes Los Angeles advanced students fix jokes in class, and they’ve only been writing for just a few months. Another advantage to knowing joke structure is being able to recognize the laughs within the storytelling style of stand-up comedy as jokes. If the comedian or comedy teacher is still looking at jokes as setup and punch, they’re missing the entire class of jokes based on existing information and immediate environment. To the educated mind, the basic structure of those jokes is exactly the same as one-liner jokes.
The final advantage of understanding joke structure is knowing that all the material a comedian performs on stage is actually jokes. I often go to comedy clubs and rooms and watch beginner and midrange comics trying material. Most of it isn’t in joke structure. They’re usually mistaking premises and absurd ideas for jokes. When they get to bits in joke structure, they get laughs. Jokes are a specialized form of communication that need to be studied so you can determine what is and isn’t a joke. This to can be learned in my stand-up comedy classes Los Angeles You can obtain all these advantages by learning joke structure from my book Step By Step to Stand-Up Comedy or my workbook How to Write Jokes or take my stand-up comedy classes Los Angeles. Knowing jokes structure is one of the great shortcuts to becoming a funnier joke writer and comedian.
In my next blog, Stand-Up Comedy Classes - Tip 5: Understanding Misdirection – Part 1, I’ll explain how misdirection works in one-liner jokes.
• I wrote this blog at the Big Daddy Cigar Lounge in Long Beach CA while smoking the 96 rated Flor de las Antillas cigar. Great atmosphere. Excellent cigar.
• I just directed the sketch “Wrecks,” written by my wife Gayla Johnson, at the Youtube Space LA Studio. Coming Soon to a computer screen near you.
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