Localize Your Material

Greg Dean Greg's Blog, How to Be a Comedian Leave a Comment

It’s important to have material that travels. The technique to localize can help you take jokes or bits and tailor them to different geographical areas and use known people to make them more relate-able.

It’s very simple and effective. First go through your material and make note of all the references to cities, landmarks, hotels, stores, bars, restaurants or politicians, crime bosses, and so forth.

When you get to the club, get the local paper or ask someone at the club for ideas so you can fill these in with regional references. This can really improve the response you’ll receive.

Here are several examples, if you have a joke that involves a restaurant, learn the name of a well-known local eatery. Then instead of saying, “I was at this restaurant the other day . . . ,” you can say, “I went to Hooters.”

If you’re in the South, instead of saying, “I was at this market,” say, “I was in the Piggly Wiggly.” If you don’t know what that is . . . google it.

Every town has an area or some nearby town that people look down on. Find out what it is and refer to it. Make it the place that an unlikable character in one of your jokes comes from. The audience will love you for it.

For example, I live in Los Angeles, and here we make fun of Bakersfield. In Bakersfield, they make fun of . . . Bakersfield.

If you have a joke about a rough bar, ask around for the name of a local dive that fits the bill.

I walked into (insert name of tough local bar) – they’ve got some poor guy on the floor, and they’re pounding the snot out of him. I asked the bartender, ‘Why don’t you call a cop?’ He said, ‘Are you crazy? After the beating they just gave that one?’”

Something magical happens when an audience sees their home town immortalized in your show. This technique works so well, in fact, some comics actually poo-poo it for being too easy to pull off. I say it’s just doing your homework.

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