Being Funny in Front of an Audience
A comedian is either a funny guy telling stories, or a guy telling funny stories; the best are the former, and this also applies to making speeches, though you can get away in a speech with just telling funny stories as your career isn’t necessarily dependent on filling clubs with your wit. Witty one-liners and misdirections can seem like gold at first but the trouble is that anyone can do them. Although you can use them to heat up a crowd or pad your routine, they won’t make you a fantastic comedian.
If you want to come into your own and be a successful, memorable comedian people will tell their friends about, you’ll want to start with storytelling. There’s really no limit to the stories you can tell. Your story can be based in fact or fiction. It doesn’t matter to the audience. People who see comedy shows are just there for a laugh…or to heckle you, but generally they want to be entertained.
You’ll want a story people can relate to. Things that bring us all together are good. So are things we all understand. For example, you could talk about cars. Most people own a car and have been driven up the wall by their various idiosyncrasies. By talking about cars, you’re establishing familiarity with the audience. Once they’re interested, you can get to the funny bits – but don’t wait too long!
When you have sorted what you’re talking about, you should try and work out what makes it funny. What about your story will make people laugh? It’s hard to say just what will work until after the fact. Even the greats have had terrible nights. The most common way to make a story compelling, and hopefully funny, is to add conflict. Ideally, the conflict will be relatable – conflict between lovers, family members, religious and political leaders and so on. However it might not need to be as long as you have connected with the audience.
You could talk about a driving exam you took. What’s funny about that? Perhaps there was something about the man giving you the test – his wandering eye (and or hands), or a bad case of flatulence? Another story could be about a lemon vehicle you almost bought before a car history check warned you off – maybe the previous owner kept chicken in the car and you wondered what that funny smell was. It could be a matter as simple as having been stuck in traffic after picking up a hitch-hiker who then propositioned you. Maybe your neighbour in the adjacent lane had not noticed you could see him picking his nose.
There are no ironclad rules to comedy. Nevertheless a story is key to almost any great comic’s routine. You’ll be more fun to talk to even if you don’t wind up the world’s next great comedian.