In this blog, Setups are More Than Setups, I’ll discuss how comedians rush through the setups as the annoying unfunny part of jokes, and by doing so, they diminish the effectiveness of the punches.
For one-liners, setups constitute at least 95% of most jokes, hence taking up 95% of the comedian’s performing time on stage. Choosing to simply rattle them off is a terrible waste of valuable stage time and affect on the audience.
I call this unattached kind of performance reporting. Just like a newscaster who reports the news in flat and unemotional so as not to appear to interject their own opinions. Conversely, the purpose of news’ editorials is to express opinions, emotions, and make critical judgments.
Jokes are specialized editorials designed to get laughs. Jokes are not meant to be reported. Stand-up comedy is the world according to you in comic structure. Every joke contains at least one negative opinion about the butt of the joke.
To achieve the full potential of jokes, the comedian needs to express these opinions through their emotions. The audience rides the roller-coaster of a comedy show on the rails of the comedian’s emotions.
But if the comedian just reports any aspect of their show, especially the setups, it in turn lessens the power of the punches. The performance of the setup is part of what causes the audience to accept the target assumption. If the setup is merely reported, this misdirection won’t be as effective and therefore the punch won’t have as much impact.
Give a fully committed performance every moment you’re on stage by giving the setups equal commitment.