This could be the most important 9-minute comedy lesson of your life.
In the next 9 minutes you’re going to learn a lot! I mean a ton! I’m calling this article my 9-minute Comedy Mastermind Session.
When it comes to comedy writing and theory, my argument always focuses on structure.
“Structure is king!” I’ll usually say.
Listen to the Audio Version
Getting to the point and getting the laugh with a strong point of view while saying something that actually means something is crucial but structure is where the laugh occurs… not just trying to be funny.
This next 9-minutes focuses on that.
Structure is really the keys to the car that drives comedy success. I’d argue that it’s not just important, it’s crucial!
Side-by-Side Comedian Comparison
In the next 9 minutes you’re going to look at two comedians.
Rob Delaney and Brian Kiley.
Delaney is your classic internet sensation comedian. His rise to notoriety came via Twitter where he had 1.26 million followers! But you’ll soon learn that Twitter comedy doesn’t necessarily interpret into stellar stand-up.
Brian Kiley is the head monologue writer for Conan O’Brien. Kiley is a master of structure and joke telling. But his joke telling style is so well finessed that it doesn’t seem like he’s us telling jokes.
Take a look at these two comedians as they appear on 2 different late night shows.
Structure vs. No structure. It’s Kiley with solid structure and Delaney with just telling a story and trying to be funny
You be the judge…
…and as always I would love to hear your comments.
Let’s take a look at comedian Rob Delaney. He performed a set on Jimmy Kimmel Live. He wasn’t prepared, he lacked structure and he totally shits the bed…
Caution: You might have to will yourself to watch the entire 4.5 minutes. But it’s important that you do.
Now let’s watch 4.5 minutes of Brian Kiley. Brian is a master of joke structure. You don’t have to be like him or deliver your material in this more “joke” form, but you’ll easily see the difference between structured and unstructured material.
In my view, structure is king.
Brian Kiley’s set is far superior in it’s structure and it’s story-telling than Rob Delaney. In fact, rumor has it that Delaney tried to make sure that this didn’t get out. I get it.
I’m not posting this to slam Delaney as a comedian. I’ve been doing stand-up for nearly 30 years, I know how hard it is to get on T.V. So big props to him for just getting the spot. But when you get there you’ve got to have a structured set.
Your effectiveness is judged by laughs per minute. If you’re not getting laughs, the audience is tuning out.
A stand-up comedian’s time is also limited on late night TV shows. Comedian’s sets have been running around 4 minutes 30 seconds! I just watched comedian Dulce Sloan on Conan and she only had 3 minutes!
You gotta get to the jokes fast and keep them rolling! If you don’t you might wind up like Rob Delaney and totally shitting the bed.
There are two primary ways to learn how to build comedy and story structure into your comedy act: 1. Get up and try it and learn through trial and error and hopefully find your way to doing what the successful comedians are doing… or 2. Drop in on one of my comedy classes and learn why people laugh and learn the structures that trigger that laughter. You can also really jack up your comedy writing skills at one of my Weekend Comedy Writing Workshops.