Had a conversation after a show the other week with a couple of comics where we were discussing how jokes go in cycles. A bit will work really well for a few months and then it will start doing nothing. That will last a while and you may dump it or put it on hiatus. But eventually, it makes a comeback and does well again. And all that can happen even if the bit didn't change at all.
One big factor to that: How confident you are in the bit. A joke's working and you feel good about it and everything's great. But after a while you either get tired or lazy or something is off and it doesn't do as well. You start doubting it. But then a good crowd or giving it a rest breathes in new life. It's all a bit strange. Goes to show how much of this game is about delivery and confidence. Material certainly helps, but it ain't everything.
Similarly, I've noticed the key test for a new joke is the third and fourth times telling it. Sometimes you get laughs off a new idea just because it's new. You're excited to try it and your delivery sounds fresh (maybe it's something you're just riffing even). But then, when you've told it a few times, it starts to go downhill. Once the adrenaline and energy of a new idea are gone, you see if it's really got legs.
Sandpaper Suit is NYC standup comic Matt Ruby's (now defunct) comedy blog. Keep in touch: Sign up for Matt's weekly Rubesletter. Email email@example.com.
Jokes go in cycles
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how very true !
I'm starting to think that jokes get exhausted from over telling and they need to go to a rest home to re-cuperate .
more likely I get bored telling the joke and I no longer "sell -it " when i'm on stage ....
it's lovely when you dust off an old joke and the magic returns
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