Should you sound like you're telling jokes?

A self-described "open mic'er" writes:

I'm getting to a point where I can learn from listening to my sets. I am hearing that if I tighten up my delivery, I'd get that much more laughs. So I was wondering what your thoughts on delivery were. What I am learning from what I'm hearing is that I'd get a better response if it didn't sound so clearly like I was telling a joke. But I digress, I was wondering what your insights were on the topic of delivery.

Well, kinda obvious but I'll say it anyway: If you hear a certain type of delivery gets better results, do that more. And tightening up is always a good thing. I think too-many-words-syndrome is the most common mistake I hear newbies making. Get in, get to the funny part, and get out.

Should you sound like you're telling jokes is an interesting question. As with most stuff in comedy (and life), I don't think there's one right answer. If you write jokey jokes, I think selling them as jokes is fine. If you're talking about really personal stuff, then sounding more conversational is probably appropriate.

Some people really sell a performance (for example, PFT in the snakes in can bit) while others work hard at trying to look like they're not selling a schtick (Birbigs and Bill Burr are two that come to mind). Different styles, all work great. But these guys who look like they're just being conversational are still selling a performance, it's just in a different way. It takes a lot of hard work to pull off looking like you're not trying hard...if that makes any sense.

I will say this though: When you're starting out, I think it's good to take chances and try stuff to see if it's a good fit. So maybe try going over the top on some stuff and see how it goes. Do a character. Or turn up the performy knob in another way. Mess around and see what feels right/works for you. Later on, things usually start to cement and it gets harder to take those chances.


1 Comment(s)

Blogger Abbi Crutchfield said...

With regards to the evolution of my delivery, I sound less like a radio announcer now than when I started out. My earliest performances had specific wording I had memorized, and I wanted to fake confidence so I put on my most professional voice. Over time I wanted to sound less rehearsed so I started to loosen up and not stick specificly to a script. I was able to sound a little more natural, but way too wordy. As my writing gets stronger I can say something exactly as I've written it, and not sound so robotic.


In the beginning: "You know what I can't stand? I really hate raisins!" (false enthusiasm)

Then: "This guy looks like he eats raisins. Why? They suck. You have your glasses on and a nice sweater. I'm not making fun of you--I'm gonna need glasses some day. But I was talking about raisins, which are awful..." (rambling to summon real emotion)

Now: "Raisins suck." (economized and delivered with honesty)

1/19/11, 11:40 AM