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.
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...
He's a little awkward on stage. He's working on it, but he comes across as the guy next door or maybe the 'creepy' guy next door.
He's got a lot of the locals including the local club owner who constantly berate him. They put him down, they tease, they pick.
He said, "Jerry, you've got to help me. I just have these guys totally hating on me all the time. What do I do?"
In the vast horizon of possibilities of where comedy can come from, why would anyone who's taken any time to study this art make such a definitive and limiting statement about comedy?
Not only that, just look around! Jerry Seinfeld, "What is it with bugs?!" or "I don't know if horses really know they're racing. I think horses are sitting at the starting gate going, 'I know there's a bag of oats at the end of this and I wanna get there first.'"Does that sound like it comes from the depths of Seinfeld's soul?
Or take Anthony Jeselnik: "The best way to break up with a girl is like I take off a band-aid, slowly and in the shower."
Depths of his soul? Or just a incongruous association joke about breaking up with a girl?
Of course there are pieces the "depths of the soul" comment that make sense. It's cathartic to talk about things that are deep and you have an emotional connection to. But how limiting is that statement?
It's missing something, like, where the laugh comes from!
When I started in show business, I was an actor. I had the fortunate experience of watching my Dad go through his career as an actor. There were ups and downs. Sometimes the downs were really down.
I said, "That's not gonna happen to me." Now it's one thing to say that in a matter of wishful thinking and it's another to take action. So right after I said, "That's not gonna happen to me," I said, "How can I make sure that doesn't happen to me?"
The opportunity for writing in Late Night T.V. continues to explode. We've never had more movement in that industry. There are more shows. And more shows need more content.
Who's going to provide that content?
Comedians and writers like you!
The other technique is to sit down and write jokes. I prefer this technique because I don't have to wait for the coincidence of the moment with friends or a funny situation to just happen to 'occur' to me. I can just sit down and generate material.
I do this by utilizing about 23 different approaches, but for the sake of this blog post, I will just write about two approaches. Here they are...