What’s Bugging You?

A great stand up comedy premise usually begins with a negative opinion.  But there’s a common misconception that having a negative opinion means you must feel hate, or strong anger.  And sure, if you do feel hate (and it’s funny), or you do carry burning anger (and it’s funny), then go for it! 

But most negative opinions are simply things that annoy you, your pet peeves, the things that get under your skin. They can also be things that confuse you, or cause you doubt, fear or even paranoia.

Negative opinions sometimes come from experiences: If someone is being an idiot, or picking on you, or your boss never gives you a break, you develop negative opinions. 

Negative opinions are anything that make you think “I wish this was different!” or “There’s too little of this and too much of that!” or “I don’t like the way public opinion is going on this issue!” Your job as a standup comedian is to continually excavate your negative opinions.

stand up comedy premise

Get Specific

Once you’ve discovered a negative opinion in yourself, it’s important to get clear about it because it’s going to become the premise for your standup comedy routine. You start with the premise and then all the jokes are examples of that premise (until you change the premise). Your premise is your message.

Dig Deep

Take some time in order to make your negative opinion as specific as possible. Do a little personal digging and ask yourself: “What exactly is my issue with that person or event?”  You’ve noticed something’s wrong, but what, exactly? If you are confused, what exactly is confusing you?  If you’re paranoid, who exactly is following you?  And why?  Being specific will make your standup comedy routine unique. For example, I had a student say he was a recovering Catholic and wanted to do a routine about the Catholic church.  I suggested he go home and think about it, in order to get as specific as possible.  The next week, he came back to class and declared: “The nuns lied to me”.  Aha! Because he’d gotten specific, I could ask him pointed questions about the nuns which led to some really good jokes.

When creating your standup comedy routine, your negative opinion is one of the most important things to explore, and specify. More than just a complaint, it’s the foundation of your premise, and the angle from which you’ll address your subject matter.  Enjoy your negative opinions!

Greg Dean’s Stand Up Comedy Classes

Greg teaches his stand up comedy techniques in two classes.  The first is called “How to Build a Stand Up Comedy Routine” and is the beginning class (also called the “101 class”) and the “Advanced Joke Writing & Performing Class” (also known as the “201 class”).

Even though these classes are named a beginning and advanced,  they are actually classes that stand up comedians of any number of years of experience can take.  They are beginning and advanced in the Greg Dean system.  If you’re interested in faster and better ways to create good jokes and you want to dive deeper on joke writing then you’ll want to take both of these classes.

Greg teaches his classes live in Santa Monica as well as live on zoom.  If you are in the greater Los Angeles area, you can sign up for his classes at the Santa Monica Playhouse.  If you’re not local, then check the website frequently to see when the next live zoom class is scheduled.

In addition to his live classes in Santa Monica and on zoom, Greg also teaches joke writing via his on demand platform.  One of his most popular classes is “Joke Writing Made Simple”.  This class can be done in your own time, and at your own pace.  You can find out more about this class here: https://stand-upcomedy.com/product/joke-writing-made-simple/


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Greg Dean is also a published author with several books that teach his famous stand up comedy techniques.  HIs book, Step by Step to stand up comedy is a best seller on Amazon.

Step by Step to Stand Up Comedy by Greg Dean