In this blog, How to Introduce Comedy Routines, I’ll give three approaches to bring up the subject matter of a new bit or routine.
It can be so unnatural to come on stage and launch right into a routine. You’ll want to bring up the subject matter of your comedy routines in the same way you’d bring it up in normal conversation.
Here are three ways:
- State the Topic
When I write “state,” I don’t mean you should simply say, “I’d like to talk about my roommate.” Actually, that’s not a bad approach, but if you have a show with several comedy 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. . .?” It’s a waste of valuable stage time and a fast track to Hackville.
I’ve seen too many working comedians begin comedy routines with a question five or six times in one show.
“How many people here are married?”
“How many people here have a fear of heights?”
“How many people here watch football?”
“How many people here hate parking tickets?”
“How many people here are tired of answering useless questions?”
At least think about how to introduce a new topic. State it clearly so everyone knows what you’re going to talk about. Don’t just go with this overused cliché. Strive to be original, not stereotypical.
- Use a Punch-Premise
Sometimes stating the topic isn’t enough because some comedy routine require more information for it to make sense. When this is the case, use a punch-premise. A punch-premise is defined as a negative opinion about the subject. This lets the audience know what you’re going to talk about and what position you’re taking.
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 purposes of writing jokes, not performing them.
Phrase it several ways until it comes out naturally:
“My roommate is a filthy pig boy.”
This should be at the beginning of comedy routines as it tells the audience you’re going to talk about your roommate and that you think he’s messy. The punch-premise is the message of your comedy routines and the jokes are funny examples of how it’s true.
- Say a Setup-Premise
Some comedy routines 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.
“My roommate is the cleanest person I’ve ever met.”
Again, this is for sarcasm, and soon the audience will find out through the jokes that he’s really a “filthy pig boy.”
Deciding whether you introduce your comedy routines with the topic, punch-premise, or 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 jokes. Figuring this out will become easier with experience.