You’re Either Broken Or An Adult. Pick One.

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There is a story my comedy coach tells in his blogs about meeting George Carlin early on in his career.  Carlin told him that he knew with 98% accuracy that a joke was going to be funny before he hit the stage.

When you attend an open mic as a comedian, you should always try new material, providing you actually write new material on a consistent basis.  The number one complaint I’ve heard from audience members I’ve talked to over the years is, when it comes to open mics they say the comics always do the same material.

When the same material is done week after week, the audience figures out the timing and the structure within the setup.  Then they are one step ahead of the comedian, and that generally doesn’t make for great laughs.  The comedian should be in control and always be one step ahead of the audience.  Remember, the comedian is there to take the audience on a journey. Think about it.  If you as an audience member were to be taken on the same journey week after week seeing the same things week after week, it gets rather boring, doesn’t it?

I’ve heard comedians say “I haven’t written any new material in weeks.  I’ve got nothing new to say.”  That’s a lazy comment to make.  If you knew how to write jokes, specifically where to start when you write them, then your writing will be consistent and you will come up with more material than the other guy.

Since the end of October I’ve written 27 pages of NEW material.  Not old material per se, but older material that’s been reworked to present in an entirely different light, or new material with new ideas.

I find it funny when comedians go to an open mic and they say they’re working on new material that isn’t funny.  Then why bother going on stage?

I’ve learned that comedy writing is about two things.  The first thing is structure.  From that structure comes the confidence to further cement your commitment to writing every day, or on a consistent basis.  I have put in a lot of hours over the last few years learning about the structure of a joke.  When I talk about structure, I mean from the audience point of view, how will they follow a joke?  What are their laugh triggers?  Once you know what makes an audience laugh and why it makes them laugh, then it becomes easy to interject the different comedy styles into a comedian’s material with laugh triggers.

Due to the structure I’ve learned, I can tell with a high degree of accuracy whether a joke will work or not.  For instance, some jokes I’ve written came to me already within the structure of a joke, from the setup to the punchline.  It was all there in front of me.  The mannequin joke and the one about black ice are prime examples of this.

I understand comedy structure, so I can take any situation and input the details into the formula and come out with a joke.  For the mannequin joke, I had pictured my mother lecturing me about being more successful in life, which she will do at times.  She is the type of person who would point something out like that in public.  Once I got the picture in my head of my mother comparing me to the (male) mannequin, the dialogue was easy to put together.  It just rolled off my tongue.  I presented that joke to my coach for review a couple years back, and he said it was solid from start to finish.  Just recently I started doing a reverse mannequin joke that involves…….well, you will have to hear it.  I’m not about to give it away on here.

Needless to say, when I did an alternate version of the mannequin joke, I knew it would work because it had the structure already present.  All I did was change the setup while keeping the punchline intact, and it worked.

The black ice joke was the same way.  I remember walking into Superstore one day and seeing the Black Ice scented car air-freshener.  Right away I thought of black ice on the highway and shitting yourself.

Now, these 27 pages of new material will be the most well-rounded half hour set in Saskatoon.  There isn’t anybody that can match the variety of topics I will be covering, some so obscure that comedians don’t talk about them.  Now that I have learned how to write, I am able to stop talking about the broken people in my past and how I always struggled.  That was every joke in my set.

Those days are over.

Always talking about my relationship struggles or family problems every single joke kind of defined me, and not in a good way.  I got laughs that were like “I can’t believe he said that, poor guy!”  The laughs I want to get are the big laughs, as I start to incorporate my personality into my material and offer up my own personal slant on different topics.

The content of these 27 pages will not be made public.  I can confidently say that other comics aren’t talking about these subjects, maybe because they aren’t sure how to write about them, or maybe because they haven’t experienced them personally.  This gives me an advantage.  When I get these 27 pages down to a workable half hour, I will debut this material at the Laugh Shop in a few months time before I head to Los Angeles.

The best part is, I know these jokes will work before I hit the stage, because I can break down the jokes and tell you exactly why they work.  There aren’t a lot of comedians around who can tell you that.  They are full of smoke and mirrors, suggesting that jokes are funny because of a punchline.  Well, that’s great, but how do you arrive at a punchline?

No other Saskatoon based comedian has performed more at the Laugh Shop in Saskatoon over the last few years than me.  My new material is the most well-rounded set with the most variety in Saskatoon.  Period.

I’ve sold out the Laugh Shop before with my appearances in Saskatoon, and this spring will be no different.  When your jokes have structure, they become easier to rehearse, and they sound polished.

The new material is part of a new direction I’m taking.  Gone is the struggle.  This new material is full of opinions, points of view and ideas that everybody can relate to.

The best part being that it’s clean material, from start to finish.  Scraping the bottom of the barrel to be dirty is something I have heard new comics do with every single joke in their sets.  It’s the sign of a lazy comedian, especially when every joke is vulgar and crude.

It may have taken 5 1/2 years, lots of struggle with bullies, roadblocks and broken people in my path, but I finally am becoming a comedian.  I always prided myself on being well rounded where people didn’t know what I would do or say next.  My comedy career has reached that point, as I believe other comics can’t make funny right out of the chute the topics I talk about, because I have the structure and the knowledge of what makes an audience laugh.

You’ll watch my videos from both the Laugh Shop and Los Angeles comedy clubs and wonder where the old Trevor Dean went to.  You can take that to the bank.


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