Writing material

Posted by The Satire Wire

This is hard! Here's why. Your brain and your behavior are two different animals. What you write on paper may not be the guy you are on stage. Imagine Eddie Murphy doing George Carlin's material or vice versa. Okay, you can't b/c Carlin's dead. The point still stands that material is unique for a given comedian...

The best advice I can give you to writing for yourself is to forget trying to figure out "who" you are. Save the Freudian analysis for your therapist. On stage, you won't know who you are until you get some experience. So, in the meantime, follow the simple rule, set-up/punch line. Too simple for you? You're above it huh? Until you get experience, you telling your "hilarious" story on stage is going to end with some combination of, "guess you had to be there" or "it was a lot funnier when I told it earlier." Yes you can be a great story teller. But when you start out, keep it simple. You wouldn't try a double flip your first couple jumps off the high dive, you'd grab your knee and squeal like a little girl until you hit the water, then you surface going, "Can opener, motherfuckers!"

So what is a set up? It's the shortest number of words you can say to describe a scenario so the audience can follow where you are going with what you are saying. The punchline is yanking the carpet out from under them, so just when they think they know what you are about to say, you switch it. Try it. Take any normal scenario and set it up. You'd be amazed to know that most jokes don't work, not because the punchline is weak, but because the set up is either under explained, so the audience doesn't know why the hell you're now doing an Arnold impression, or over explained, so the audience stopped paying attention before you even get to the punchline.


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