Turning the pages

Heard someone give this advice to authors:

Nothing else matters if they do not keep turning the pages. THAT is the first priority.

I think there's an analogy to that in standup. The first priority is getting the audience tuned in to you. They have to be engaged and they have to stay that way. If you don't have their attention, you're wasting time just moving ahead with material. If people aren't focused on what you're saying, nothing will be funny.

Ties in with what I see as the most common mistake new comics make: talking too much. I mean saying words that don't HAVE to be there. If what you're saying isn't leading to the funny part or the actual funny part, it's dragging everything down.


soce said...

I hear that! Less is definitely more in stand-up comedy. In my lengthy career of 9 or so performances, I've noticed that I generally get a better result if I deliver a few words then wait a brief moment for it to settle in.

When I tell long stories, not only does it lose people's attention, but at times, I would talk over their initial laughter.. It was as if they were asking me if what I had just said was funny, and in my rush to continue the story, I responded "no, it wasn't."

Speaking in short phrases forces you to get to the point very quickly. If you have to tell the entire story in ten words or less, you try a lot harder to make it pop than if you give yourself a full minute.

YouJean Chang said...

Yep. I believe it was Shakespeare who said "Brevity is the soul of wit."

myq said...

I think the best way to get people to turn the pages is to have a flip-book image on the corner of the page, so people have to look at all of them if they want to see the little movie.

So all we have to do is figure out what the analogy to standup is, and make it happen.

PS Shakespeare could have made it even briefer if he used contractions. "Brevity's wit's soul."

PPS I considered not commenting at all here, as a way to be even briefer, but I think that might have gotten a bit too meta. Let me know.

soce said...

This must be one of the shortest comments by myq I have ever seen on this website.

Then again, I could've provided more punch if I'd just said:

"Wow, short comment, myq!"

myq said...


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