Special Report: Why Do New Comedians CHOOSE To Struggle Needlessly?
If you attend ANY stand-up comedy open mic ANYWHERE in the world as an audience member…
What you will witness over and over again is that the overwhelming majority of comedians (new and not so new) struggle to get laughs.
But it’s actually worse than that — most new comedians are not even remotely funny and tend to fall into the “moderately to severely awful” category.
This is NOT something that I am just making up or exaggerating about — anyone can verify this for themselves by simply suffering through any stand-up open mic.
And here’s what makes the situation even worse, as unbelievable as it may sound…
New comedians actually CHOOSE the most difficult and ineffective methods possible to create and develop a stand-up comedy act.
So in this special report, I am going to explore why new comedians make the choices that they make that cause them to struggle needlessly to get the laughter results they want.
And just to be clear…
What I have to share with you in this special report comes from FIRST HAND experience.
That’s right, I too chose to struggle when I first started my stand-up career and I had plenty of help to make that awful choice.
A Closer Look
Once you have sat through a comedy open mic, it is very easy to come to the conclusion that most of the new comedians who are there trying to get laughs:
- Just don’t have enough comedy talent or…
- They somehow need to learn how to have more comedy talent.
That conclusion would be mostly FALSE.
Most people who take a shot at stand-up comedy have more than enough talent to entertain audiences and generate the laughs they want when they step on stage.
How can I say that? It’s easy because…
Most people consider becoming a comedian because they are known for their sense of humor and having the ability to cause others to laugh when they are engaged in casual conversations with friends, family coworkers and people they meet.
The people they know and meet will commonly make the remark “You should really think about becoming a comedian”.
So you tell me…
If a person can cause other people to genuinely laugh when they are not thinking about it, not planning it, not “writing” it in advance — just responding, reacting and interacting with others in an easy and automatic way…
Why do they struggle to get laughs on stage as a comedian?
The primary reason is because they have been programmed to fail long before they ever even get to the stage and don’t even realize it.
The Main Path Is The Wrong Path
Everything that a person knows or thinks that they know about how a stand-up comedy routine is created, developed and delivered is shaped by:
- Television and other media
- Print media
- Online resources
- Books and other educational resources
- Other comedians and entertainers
At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, what would you say if I told you that…
Before I go down that rabbit hole, know this:
I don’t expect you to believe a word that I have to say and here’s why…
The programming that you have been exposed to (which is the exact same programming that I fell victim to when I first started stand-up) has very deep and powerful roots and is actually difficult to overcome regardless of the validity of information that I have to offer.
So all I can really ask you to do is to evaluate and investigate FOR YOURSELF what I am about to tell you and honestly answer the questions that I present along the way.
Some Interesting Questions
Here are some questions that I want to start with:
How does the natural comedy talent that you have and use daily to generate genuine laughs from people that you talk to come into play when developing a stand-up comedy routine?
The reason that I ask this question is because I don’t know of a single education or training resource (outside my own courses) that covers this in any meaningful or actionable way.
As a matter of fact, from a conventional stand-up comedy approach…
Whatever it is that you do that makes you a funny person in everyday life is not worthy of much mention or consideration at all — whether it be generating laughs with people that you know, among coworkers, teaching classes or any other type of public speaking for that matter.
Nope — absolutely none of that counts for anything in the world of stand-up comedy.
Why? Here are some of the reasons why:
Based on historical data from many decades, it is already known that chances are beyond very good that any new comedian will suck for an extended period of time before they can generate audience laughs — regardless of their experience or ability outside the realm of stand-up comedy.
This happens because:
- “Conventional” methodologies DO NOT provide any connection or application of a person’s natural comedy talent to developing a comedy routine.
- Everyone is automatically expected to use the “conventional” methodologies, regardless of whether or not it is VISIBLY apparent that the methodologies DON’T WORK (review ANY comedy open mic for details).
- And there’s a focus on conventional “writing” (like for somebody to read) as the means for developing a stand-up routine along with recognition and application of joke formulas among other things — even though that’s NOT the way you generate laughs in real life.
I find this curious because it seems to me that an individual’s natural comedy talent is the single most valuable asset they bring to the table as a comedian and should be capitalized on to the maximum extent possible.
So here are the questions that I believe are important for you to answer for yourself:
When you cause other people to laugh in casual conversations or other situations:
- Do you stop to write the “jokes” you are going to use to get the laughs during the conversation?
- Do you stop to contemplate what “joke formula” that you are going to use to get the laughs that you get?
- Do you get laughs in everyday conversations by having the people you are talking to read any sort of reply or statement that you wrote down that causes the laughter to happen?
- If you are involved in teaching or public speaking and get laughs in the process, did you “write jokes” beforehand to get those laughs?
At this point your programming should have kicked in and you might be saying something like:
“Of course I don’t do that. But stand-up comedy is different than that.”
And my reply would be — can you tell me EXACTLY how it is different when it comes to the generating laughter part?
And I am NOT talking about:
- Being on stage and using a microphone
- Having lights shining in your face
- Standing before an audience of people who don’t know you
My question refers specifically to the the part where you say something, express yourself and then laughter occurs as a result.
So here’s the same question again, structured a little differently:
What are the differences between generating laughter from something said in a casual conversation and generating laughter during a stand-up comedy routine?
From a strictly professional viewpoint, there are two recognizable differences between laughter generated in casual conversations and a stand-up comedy routine:
- In a casual conversation, anyone (including you) involved in the conversation can provide the set-up information for which punchlines that generate laughter happen. In a stand-up comedy routine, only the comedian is providing the set-up information for the punchlines that generate laughter.
- A stand-up comedy routine is purposely structured to have more punchlines than a casual conversation.
But even then, neither of these observable differences have anything to do with the actual process for generating the laughs — some type of information is provided (called the set-up) and some sort of remark, response, statement, observation, opinion, etc. is delivered about that information (called the punchline) which causes the laughter to happen.
Odd, huh? Well let’s go down a bit further into the rabbit hole…
How did you learn the joke formulas that you use in everyday conversations to generate laughs?
Do you consciously pick and choose the joke formulas that you are going to use as you are talking to get laughs in everyday conversations?
Again, at this point your programming should have kicked in again and you might be saying something like:
“Joke formulas are different in stand-up comedy than what happens in casual conversations.”
And my reply would be…
EXACTLY how are they different?
Let me help you out with this.
The reality is that EVERYONE uses any number of “joke formulas” that are specific to them to generate laughs when they are in conversations with others based on a number of factors such as sense of humor, expressive traits, speaking characteristics, word usage, posture, body language, facial expressions, etc.
NOBODY thinks about what “joke formula” they are going to use when they choose to use and express their sense of humor — it just happens naturally and automatically.
So here are my questions:
Why EXACTLY do you need to know anything about ANY joke formulas to develop a stand-up routine when you don’t need to know anything about joke formulas to get laughs in everyday conversations?
Why EXACTLY can’t you just use your sense of humor and comedy talent the same way you use it when you are talking with people that you know when it comes to developing a stand-up comedy routine?
What would you say if I told you that stand-up comedy — I’m talking about powerful, big laugh stand-up comedy — is really just a concentrated version of what you ALREADY DO in everyday conversations to get laughs?
Hint: Go to YouTube and review the videos of any number of accomplished comedians and make note of WHAT THEY TALK ABOUT in their stand-up. You will find that much of what they talk about are the SAME SORTS OF THINGS that are talked about in casual conversations. Odd, huh?
Let me state this as plainly as possible:
You DO NOT need to know, study or memorize one single joke formula in order to develop a stand-up comedy routine that works to generate the laughs that you want.
Now it’s time to go even deeper into the rabbit hole and talk about the “writing” aspect of this performing art.
Now For The Writing Part
I need to start with this so that we don’t get off track:
All stand-up comedy material SHOULD be written down because unless you are on special medication or eating a certain kind of mushroom, you can’t see words and sentences as they leave your mouth to edit, adjust, rearrange, etc. what you want to say to an audience.
So you need to have a road map that you can see of what you are going to say to an audience with a stand-up routine because:
- You are going to repeat the parts that work to get laughs.
- You need to get rid of the parts that don’t work to get laughs.
- You may need to add to, edit, shorten, adjust or delete what you are going to deliver in your stand-up routine.
But what I am referring to is “writing down” what you want to say and express to an audience, NOT “writing jokes” out of thin air the way it is portrayed by the so-called comedy “experts” and numerous online resources.
Conventional “joke writing” involves these most difficult steps:
- You need to guess what may or may not be funny to talk about on stage (known as the premise).
- You need to fabricate, concoct or otherwise dream up what may or may not be funny about the made up premises that you guessed to be funny.
- Then you just hope that it works (and if you will sit though any comedy open mic, you will find that approach mostly DOES NOT WORK).
Doesn’t sound like a very strong foundation for producing stand-up comedy material that will actually work, does it?
Well, let me ask some questions that may help you determine for yourself why this process makes it very difficult to get the results that you want:
How do you “write” the jokes that you use in everyday conversations to get laughs?
Do you guess or otherwise contemplate what may or may not be funny when you are causing others to laugh in conversations?
Is there any type of “writing” as you know it involved when you are using your sense of humor in everyday life and making others laugh as a result?
Why EXACTLY are you stuck with “writing” a stand-up comedy routine when you actually don’t “write” anything to get laughs when you express your sense of humor verbally in everyday conversations?
Do ever experience “talker’s block” and if not, why not?
That last question should be a massive clue because “writer’s block” only happens when someone is writing for a reader to consume.
There is no such condition known as “talker’s block”, particularly as it relates to stand-up comedy.
I know it’s a hard concept to swallow, but stand-up comedy is all about TALKING and expressing oneself verbally in order to generate laughs.
So if the “writing” part is so critical for getting laughs as a comedian — the part that YOU are bound by the unwritten universal laws of stand-up comedy to do — then do this test for yourself:
Go to YouTube and find your favorite comedian in action. Grab the transcript for that video (click the 3 dots below the lower right corner of the video to reveal the open transcript link).
Do a little formatting to make the transcript readable, print it up and show it to any number of people.
If the “writing” is all that critical, everyone you show that transcript to should burst out laughing — just like the audience did in the video.
Guess what? That isn’t going to happen.
A more likely scenario is that the people you show that stand-up transcript will wonder if you need some sort of professional intervention or some different medication.
I say that because showing a transcript of a stand-up act that kills to anyone and expecting them to burst out laughing is just like having someone listen to the drum part of any part of any popular song and having the person guess what the song is.
The problem is there are some critical parts missing, the same as when someone tries to “write” stand-up comedy material in a vacuum and expecting it to be funny.
Final Thoughts And Recommendations
The answer to the question asked in the title of this article is this:
When I started out as a comedian, I completely embraced what the “experts” said to do.
And as a result, I sucked so badly that I almost quit because I couldn’t get anywhere close to the level of laughs that I needed to make any real progress as a comedian — despite a massive amount of work and time that I invested to try to “get funny”.
Yet, I could make an audience of strangers laugh so hard in a classroom environment that it would disturb other classes (this happened on multiple occasions).
I did that without “writing jokes”, learning joke formulas, becoming a different “character”, finding a “hook”, or any of the other so-called “must do” stuff “required by the experts” to make it as a comedian.
Long story short — I was able to overcome the programming on how a stand-up comedy routine is “supposed” to be created and developed and I have been showing others how to do the same for over two decades now.
With that said, here are some things that you might want to do if you are serious about becoming a comedian and don’t want to take the hardest path possible and suck on stage for extended periods of time:
1. Make sure you attend a couple of comedy open mic as an audience member. Verify that what I have revealed in this article is correct.
2. I have quite a bit of free training content that is immediately available for your review right now (no sign up required) on the Stand-up Fast Track Course page that includes:
- The first lesson in the Success Primer course — A Closer Look At Your Comedy Talent is available.
- There are 5 free lessons available in Rapid Training Module One.
- There’s over 90 minutes of sample audio from the Stand-up Comedy Secrets for Beginners audio series that you can review.
Again, you can access all of that from the Stand-up Fast Track Course page.
3. If you want to know a little bit about me and what I was able to accomplish once I was able to overcome the programming that every prospective comedian is subjected to, you can find that here.
Once you have reviewed the free training content that I have provided, do this:
If you have not been to stand-up comedy open mic night, go ASAP. Make a note of how many comedians actually get noteworthy laughs when they hit the stage.
Ask the open mic comedians what method, process, books or other instruction they are using to develop their act (HUGE Hint: If what they are using is not working, you want to avoid that).
Use any search engine and make a note of ANY stand-up comedy information or education resource that:
- DOES NOT focus on your comedy talent and how to use it effectively on stage as a comedian.
- Tells you you must “write” jokes using some sort of formula approach.
- Conveys that you need to learn acting, become a “different” person/character or develop some sort of “hook” to get ahead as a comedian.
- Tells you that you need to develop a different or better sense of humor for stand-up comedy.
- Lets you know that you need to be prepared to suck for an extended amount of time in order to become a funny.
Once you have done that, then decide for yourself if that’s the path you want to take.
And if you want a much better path to take, I believe that you can figure that out for yourself as well.
No matter what, I wish you the very best in your stand-up comedy adventures!
Author and Creator of the
Killer Stand-up Comedy System and
Related Training Resources for
Comedians and Speaking Professionals