Sunday, 8 August 2010

Writing Material - Your First Five

Now that you have a spot at a local comedy club, it's time to write five minutes of material for your debut.

The first thing to remember is that the audience are simple creatures; they can be loyal, they can be your best friends, and you want them to be eating out of your hand. Like most simple creatures, they aren't very intelligent. The main thing to remember when writing material is that the audience like familiarity and warmth.

"A wise man changes his mind, a fool never will."

The above is an old spanish proverb, which of course rings true - most of the world's best comedians are spanish after all.

While wanting to change the way people think and the world overall through your comedy may seem an attractive prospect down the line, it's best to simply give the audience what they want. If they know when the punchline is coming, then they'll know when to laugh. Audiences don't like being surprised by what may appear to be clever joke construction - it frightens and confuses them.

Social scientists such as Bill Hicks and George Carlin were known to occasionally tell jokes during their respective careers, but not even jokes could heal the planet or stop politicians being corrupt.

Or stop pancreatic cancer
Never try and tell them about something they haven't already heard. They aren't at a comedy club to learn or feel smart. They are there to laugh and escape their potentially depressing lives outside the walls of the club, much like you are there to take a cut of their money and escape your almost certainly depressing life outside the walls of the club.

Focus on commonly-held beliefs and stereotypes and exaggerate for effect. Writing actual material here is not a big issue. By merely talking in a silly voice while impersonating your chosen demographic will do the trick. If you are doing material about everyday occurrences, emphasise words at random in your set and remember to end most sentences with, "Am I right?!" or similar.


Hey have you ever noticed that when people are in a bad mood they say they "got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning"? My problem isn't about getting out of the wrong side, it's more to do with stubbing my toe on the leg of the bed. What's that about?! They should make beds with no legs, am I right?!"

-howls of laughter and applause-

No-one's sure why audiences favour dull, day to day anecdotes, but science may suggest a lack of imagination is the cause.

Here's a handy checklist for some basics for your first five minutes. The more you have, the funnier you will be!
  • Local references/sayings
  • Mildly racist/homophobic/misogynistic gags offset by silly voice/mannerisms
  • Swearing because you can
  • Toilet humour (esp. stories about self-defecation)
  • At least three references or mentions to your penis (even if you're a woman)
And remember, the definition of "routine" is:

"an unvarying or habitual method or procedure"

People who say it's because a comedian does the same set over and over again only know the half of it; it counts for a lot more, including content, gags and the amount of times you will be cashing cheques because of this advice! Am I right?!

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