Each time you go to a new topic, it's like going from fifth gear back to first. It's why tagging existing bits helps so much. Or finding a new angle on the same topic. The momentum from each previous joke adds to the next one.
Gaffigan is a master at it. In fact, he discussed that aspect of his approach in this Nerdist interview a while back. The reason he sticks to one topic (e.g. bacon, hot pockets, hotels, etc.) is because he feels like changing topics is a huge mental chore for the audience.
It's an interesting way to think about it. Every time you start in on a new topic, you're asking the audience to press reset and lock in on a new target. That requires effort. And it makes your job that much harder.
For me, having chunks helps with set flow too. Remembering a bunch of one liners or quick jokes is annoying to my brain. I'd much rather have three topics that have a bunch of jokes embedded in 'em. Then it feels more natural and effortless as opposed to a series of stop-start jokes.
It can be tough to take this approach in NYC though. Here, it feels like you constantly need to be generating new material. But in my experience, tagging bits and expanding them is a slow process that comes over time — and from repetition. Heck, I've been doing one joke for almost a year and I just came up with a new tag for it a couple of weeks ago. When you're constantly turning over new material, you don't give bits that kind of chance to grow over time.
Permalink | 3/29/2011