Jokes are meant to be said, not read.
Comedy Pros Have the Freedom
One of the major errors made by beginner joke writers is they have a tendency to write flowery literate dialogue. It may read great, but when it coming out of the mouth of a comic it’s stiff, pretentious, and inauthentic. People in real life just don’t talk that way, unless they’re a Literature professor from Cambridge sporting a tweed jacket and an uneven mustache.
To avoid this trap, here are two tips for creating realistic dialogue:
Comedy Prose Use Grammatically Incorrect Language
People don’t talk like they write, so you should write like they talk. Proper grammar and syntax have nothing to do with making a joke funny. In fact, correctly worded jokes seldom flow as well as jokes written with the f
Whoever said “Silence is golden,” wasn’t a comedian.
Bombing is the number one fear associated with doing stand-up comedy. When your show isn’t getting any laughs, life stops being a movie and you’re thrust into the awareness that you’re really here in front of people. A flush of tingly heat spreads over your face, all you can hear is a deafening roar of silence. Then your internal self-talk starts screaming, “Why am I doing this to myself!” Your mouth feels as if it’s stuffed with cotton, your heart is thumping in your chest, and beads of perspiration snake down your face. You’re experiencing what comedians call flop sweat.
If this description is enough to scare you away from wanting to be a comic, quit now because bombing is an inevitable aspect of being a funny person. Accept it and prepare yourself to deal with it resourcefully.
Funny is as funny does.
I’ve heard many times the greatest jokes reveal some truth. I agree, yet there’s more to it if you want to convey a message. For decades, I’ve been using jokes and funny stories to make a point in life, classrooms, and business.
Here’s how you can do the same.
Collect Jokes and Joke Books
I’ve got a huge collection of joke books. Many of them are out of print and must be found in used book stores in the humor section. Classic ones like Milton Berle’s Joke File to Judy Brown’s series of books quoting famous comedian.
I set a joke book in my restroom and when I take a moment, I read a few jokes in passing. Just using this method, I’ve read dozens of joke books. The idea is to have joke books around to read at any spare time. You’ll need to read hundreds of jokes to find the ones whic
Or I’ll make this entire audience sorry.
You’re having a great show. There are screams of laughter and applause breaks. You’re crushing it. But there’s that one friggin person who refuses to laugh or even smile. What do you do?
I’ve seen way too many comedians make it their sole mission to make that one person laugh no matter the consequences. Their egos get caught up with breaking that one unresponsive audience member. They’ll stop doing their show and yell, blame, and even antagonize that person who won’t laugh. Soon the show stops being funny because the comedian has excluded the rest of the audience.
In my opinion, this is just plain stupid. So, what’s a better choice?
How to tag jokes and tag tags...
Tagging jokes is the comedians’ term for adding another punch to an already successful punch, without a new setup. Getting two or more laughs from an initial setup increases the laughs per minute LPMs. Most comedians and speakers rarely push past the initial laugh. This leaves way too many laughs on the table. Tagging your jokes and tagging your tags is the road to comedy success.
With one-liner jokes, 95 to 99% of the performing time is spent delivering the setups. This means 95 to 99% of the stage time is spent not being funny. But if you tag every one of the jokes and then tag those tags the audience spends 95% of their time laughing.
If you think of setups as an investment with the laugh as your payoff, then by tagging every punch is like getting paid again and again for the same investment. How d
This won’t make you a better person…but it’ll help you become a worse one.
“Ever notice when you blow in a dog's face he gets mad at you, but when you take him in a car he sticks his head out the window?” – George Carlin
Funny people are voraciously curious and aware of everything. To find original humor, they investigate and have opinions about world around them. Whereas most average people are living in their head…and it’s sublet.
To help you create the mental habits of funny people. I’ll teach three games you can play, on and off, during the day. Only through continual practice do these games become mental habits. The more you play, the more you’ll find excellent ideas that are funny.
Are you missing what's right in front of you?
I’ve taught stand-up comedy for more than three decades. There are lessons I’ve learned about being funny that also apply to other aspects of life. But often we just don’t think to use them when we're not performing.
For example, here’s something I teach my students:
Do the show that’s in front of you … not the one in your head.
I know this lesson very well because I remind my students of it in almost every class. Yet, I don’t always apply it in other contexts. Like the time I designed for my wife and me a wonderful week-long jaunt up the California coast, from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I’d spent a great deal of time on research and booking B&Bs, remote cabins, and cliff side hotels. Alas, when we got to our first stop, San Luis Obispo, the car broke down. It was on a Saturday evening. The closest car repair shop couldn’t get the required part until Monday and our car wouldn’t be fixed until Tuesday.
I was upset and frustr
In my previous blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 9: Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 2, I explained how understanding assumptions lead to uncovering more joke mechanisms. In this blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 9: Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 3, I’ll discuss the mechanism between the target assumption and reinterpretation, and how this lead to creating my original joke writing system The Joke Prospector.
Greg Dean Comedy Tips 10:
Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 3
After a year of teaching joke structure wi
In my previous blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 8: Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 1, I showed the process I went through to understand the assumption’s role in joke structure. In this blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 9: Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 2, I’ll explain how assumptions lead to uncovering corresponding joke mechanism in the punch.
Greg Dean Comedy Tips 9:
In my previous blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 7: Understanding Joke Misdirection - Part 3, I examined how misdirection works with Existing Information Jokes in the Immediate Environment. In this blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 8: Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 1, I’ll demonstrate the role of assumptions in all jokes.
Greg Dean Comedy Tips 8:
Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 1
When I became a stand-up comedy teacher in 1982, I had a c