The Right Way Is The Only Way

I would like you to watch the following clip of one of Saskatchewan’s funniest comics, Kelly Taylor.  It’s from the gala event of the Great Plains Comedy Festival from a couple of years ago. 

Now, the first time you watched it, you probably watched it like most people would, as a comedy fan.  But now click on it again.  But this time, study it.

Okay, finished?  What did you see?  I’d like to focus on the first minute of his material because it brings up a very important part of the stand-up comedy routine.  First, you can tell that Kelly is built, and he seems like a “guy’s type of guy”, one whom you could go drink beers with, or go camping for a week in the middle of nowhere and have an absolute blast.

Now that you have an idea of what he’s like, watch closely the part where he talks about drinking outside, and sits on the stool, looks around and has this look of amazement on his face.  It’s the funniest part of that bit, I believe, because just by looking at the guy, it’s the last thing you’d expect from him.  He’s acting like a fish out of water, which goes completely against the perception you’d have of him from seeing him out onstage for the first few seconds of his material.

Acting sometimes is required when you are onstage to be able to “sell” a joke, to make it believable.  If Kelly just stood in front of the mic, motionless and repeated that material with a straight face, do you think it would get the same response?  It probably wouldn’t.  But the acting he does, looking like a fish out of water I think is what sells the joke to make it funny, because it’s the last thing you expect to see from him.

I’ve learned that in order to sell a joke, you sometimes need to go contrary to how you may be percieved onstage.  For example, I’ve been told that I have a sort of clean cut, but uncomfortable look onstage, so in order to get laughs I sometimes will say something that seems “out of character”, or I will feed into the perception that others have, making it funny because people maybe are shocked that I’d make light of it.

Acting is the key, to be able to sell a joke, sometimes you have to go outside of your comfort zone and say, or do
things that don’t quite fit with who you are, or they don’t quite fit with who you’re perceived to be onstage.  That gets laughs, and going forward into next year, it’s something that I’ve recently started to realize and will need to begin to utilize a bit more.

I cannot wait to incorporate the acting into my material. It will take practice though!

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