Now THAT’S a “to-the-point” title. And it’s a good rule to live by if you are writing jokes.
People don’t come to a comedy club to listen to comedians tell long-winded stories for five minutes before finally getting to the three-second punch line. And if that is the case, it had better be a DAMN good punch line.
But generally, like most things in life, jokes are best being short and sweet. This is one thing that I am constantly working on, especially with new material. A fellow comedian told me that, ideally, the audience should be laughing every seven seconds. So trimming the fat off jokes, avoiding wordiness, and just getting to the funny part is key in maximizing funnies by streamlining and maintaining clear thoughts. We don’t need to know that you and your significant other were in Calgary at your second-cousin-who-you-hate’s wedding last summer on a beautiful July day in your trendy, yet affordable, outfits from H&M. Just get to the part where your grandpa got loaded and fell into the $800 wedding cake. THAT’S what I want to hear about. I may not be the biggest fan, but there is something to be said for one-liner jokes. Give ‘em what they came for!
This is not to say that details should necessarily be chopped. But ask yourself, do the tiny details make the idea funnier, or are they just extra words? Details should add to your jokes, not take away from them. Maybe Grandpa Mortimer fell into the cake because he had a few too many Glennfiddich single malts and was looking for his monocle which he kept dropping….down ladies’ cleavages. What a scamp! Chris James‘ joke about buying bulk foods is extra funny because he says that he uses the code for “dried split peas” and I don’t care where you’re from, peas are HILARIOUS.
Choose your concise words carefully and you’ll be twice as funny*. A group of my friends and I were at a show last week where my pal Ivan Decker was also performing. He has a way of saying things and adding details that make his jokes sound more colourful and clever. Talking about how an eccentric sultan’s lion “ate most of us” sounds funnier than just a rich man’s lion killed everyone, and it made the joke more memorable for us. The thesaurus has become a great friend to me. My only friend really….ANYWAYS!
So keeping in the spirit of this post, cut fat+funny details+effective word use=success.