Punchline Delivery for Comedian Success
Although a stand-up comedian’s primary goal is to obtain a natural and positive reaction from the
audience – a chuckle, smile, or best of all, a laugh – the process of obtaining that goal is methodical and
meticulous and involves carefully orchestrated sequences and frequent rehearsals.
Practice Makes Perfect
Although many people believe that delivering punchlines is a natural talent, this isn't true in most cases. And
even if it is, people who are naturally able to make others laugh still acknowledge the necessity of practicing
their material. Indeed, practice still makes perfect in delivering punchlines.
The punchline formula is simply based on common sense but spelling it out will
prevent you from getting tempted to messing the whole thing up and deluding
yourself into thinking that you could create something new in the world of stand-up comedy.
- The formula: set-up goes before the punchline.
A set-up provides the premise for your joke. The punchline must always come after
the set-up and never before. Keep in mind that the briefer the set-up, the
more impact the punchline will be able to create.
Types of Set-ups
There are various ways for you to prepare the audience for a punchline. A number of examples are provided
- A Contest of Outrageous Claims – Remember how kids boast to
each other about their respective possessions? “My mother is so great…”,
“My mother is greater…” and the punchline will always be provided by the last kid, “Well, my mother is
- Listing – Provide a list of any type but make sure that the
last item on the list will supply the punchline.
- Comparing – There are many people, things, places, and
events in this world that are opposite. Popular topics on which you can
easily create punchlines are America vs. France, America vs. England, America vs. Japan (are you getting the
drift here?), men and women, degree holders and the uneducated, rich vs.
wealthy, and so forth.
- Irony – Life, love, and wealth are one of the most common
topics in which you can point out ironic details.
- Exaggerated Imitations – Think of common and typical
qualities of various types of people and then imitate them in an exaggerated sense. Wives, for instance, are usually described as nagging, husbands are
characterized as philanderers, and so forth.
Last but not least is the type of punchline delivery. You can make it into a
climactic moment or deliver it with a deadpan expression. What’s important is
that you do it so effectively and in the way that’s most comfortable for you!