How to Rate Your Jokes

Greg Dean Greg's Blog, How to Write Jokes Leave a Comment

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In this blog, How to Rate Your Jokes, I’ll take you through one of the fastest ways of creating a show that gets big laughs, even when you’re a beginner.

Record Every Show

If you think you’re going to remember what happened during your show – you’re wrong. Usually, you’ll recall very little of a show you’ve done, especially the ad-libs. And it’s virtually impossible to remember details about the audience response to every joke.

The audio recorder used to be the most popular means of recording shows, but with the advent of smart phones, you can also video record your shows. I know this is a bit of a pain, but get into the habit of having a record of every show.

There are several reasons for this:

One, in case you ad-lib a joke or bit that’s not in your show, you’ll be able to play it back and add it to your show script.

Two, when you’re having trouble wording a joke naturally, when you’re performing in that extraordinary state of mind, it might just flow out of your mouth perfectly.

Three, to playback your show and rate the jokes so you’ll know which ones are working and which to take out.

 Rate Each Joke and Tag

When you go over your show, have a list of your jokes, including tags, on a sheet of paper or computer screen with a space between every joke and tag where you can write in a score. Playback your show joke by joke, and tag by tag. Pause after each laugh  and evaluate its strength and give it a score.

Here’s how to score your jokes and tags:

Give those that get the biggest laughs an A; the medium a B; and the small laugh a C. If a joke doesn’t get a laugh, but a smile, give it a D. And if it receives only silence, rate it an F.

As you develop better material, you’ll take out the C’s. In time, you’ll even edit the B material. Finally, you’ll have a show with nothing but A’s.

Achieving this goal is no easy task, especially when you consider that most comedians find that only 10% of all the jokes they write make it into their shows. And of those jokes, only about 10% eventually qualify as A’s. Those numbers would suggest that something like 1 to 5 out of 100 jokes you write will turn out to be an A.

I don’t say this to discourage you, but to make it clear how important it is to keep a regular writing schedule so you’re constantly coming up with new material. If you write just one A joke a week, you’ll have fifty-two great jokes at the end of a year.

You can be sure that the top comedians on Netflix, Comedy Central, and all the late night talk shows and radio shows aren’t doing any of their B or C material. If you want to be one of them, you’ll work toward doing the same.

Be a vicious editor. I know jokes feel like your children and you want to keep them even when their bad, but they are just jokes, not children. The sooner you’re willing to take out the B, C, D, and F jokes, the sooner your show will be getting bigger laughs.

Later you’ll have to change your rating system to A+, A,  A-, and then you’ll begin to remove even the A and A- jokes. Next stop, Netflix Special.

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