Alright… I couldn’t help it. It’s been one week since I last set foot in the comedy club but I haven’t been able to get the scene or the concept of stand up comedy out of my head!
In fact, I’ve been thinking about the strategies, the principles and the technique of delivery… more specifically, I’m thinking about the timing, the set up, the topics to use in a set… and who I can study to gain inspiration and insights into becoming a strong stand up comic…
Then, I found this video.
It’s a stand up comedy performance by a comedian from Wales performing in Australia. Here, have a look at it and try to keep a straight face until the end of it. Drop me a line if you can!
I think we can all agree that the comedian did brilliantly in the manner of his delivery and set up. Did you observe how he started off all stern and serious and leading the audience towards at state of solemness.
Then at the point of intense tension – he pulled out and executed his punchline: his broken luggage handle.
Observe how the comedian delivers punchline after punchline after punchline from then onwards – it’s a series of jokes weaved seamlessly into a story. Each joke is based on the last one and each is built with the help of exaggeration, absurdity and especially the incidences of cruel irony.
Let’s see some of the principles at work with the jokes he used:
1:00: “Then this arrived…”
2:23: “I’m thrilled to get this back” … “The thing is I’ll be here for two months!”
2:58: “Surely it would have gotten very light very quickly!”
*general actions, vocal tonality and animation of points to build tension and anticipation*
1:30: “The first three times this went around, I laughed as well!”
3:32: “Does your luggage have any distinguishing features?”
*personal reaction to loss of luggage and its ‘recovery’*
2:04: Australian baggage officer’s query, “what seems to be the problem?”
2:25: I’m pretty sure I packed more than this
3:09: “Somebody packed for me and thought this is all I need?”
*concept of redundancy of airport protocol*
There’re several elements underlying the success of this stand up comic. Of the principles mentioned, his ability and sense of timing and delivery played crucial roles too, in addition to this ability utilize those tools as mentioned and more to his advantage. Very importantly too though, is his ability to conceptualise and weave his material together.
Whatever it is, however, the work that a stand up comic puts into preparing each performance is no laughing matter… and chances are, it’s going to take years, if not months, for one to get a sharper sense of what works and what doesn’t!
Still, for all you humorists out there who are seeking to have a firmer grasp of the concept of humour, continue studying comedians like Rhod Gilbert to gather more skills and techniques and sharpen your sense of timing and delivery!