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Aug 24

How do you know your jokes are funny?

There seems to be an obvious answer to the above question – how do you know your jokes are funny? Surely, you tell someone, or an audience, a joke and they laugh then it’s funny. Great. Simple and straight-forward. Especially if you have preparation time.

But what if you don’t? What if you have the Humorous Speech contest coming up really soon and you don’t have an opportunity to get on a stage and try out your funny material. Then what? As Charlie Brown would say in a situation like this “AAAargh!”

I stumbled across an article by fellow humorist Brad Montgomery. He has a great post on his blog about testing out out customised humour before you use it on stage. He talks about the best way to connect with an audience is to be funny about your audience. Make a joke about their venue, the food, their industry, etc. Brad says:

“Here’s the deal: as the audience files into the room, mingle with them. Test your story, your joke, your quip. Don’t tell them you’re testing it, just do it. For example, if you all had some chicken dish for lunch and you want to joke about it, now is the time to get a feel for it.

If your first group laughs you know you have a keeper. If not, move to the next group and massage the joke a bit. Take mental notes and move on. If you do it right, you might get to try that material several times.

When you hit the platform with that killer joke about the chicken lunch, you’ve got a joke (or story/bit/line…. whatever) that you’ve tested several times. And now you KNOW it’s good”.

It’s a great post and it got me thinking. Why can’t you do this for bits of humour that you don’t need to customise? What if you take this idea and adapt to, say, the humorous speech contest which is around the corner?

If you can’t get the stage time you need at an actual Toastmasters club what’s to stop you from a) going along to as many Toastmasters clubs anyway, mixing and mingling with the members and trying out your material on them? Or what about going further?

What about b) trying your material out on your friends and work colleagues. Don’t telegraph the jokes by announcing what you’re doing just slot it into conversation; “a similar thing happened to me once…” and then go right into one of the stories that you’re thinking of using in your competition speech.

Whilst it’s not getting on an actual speaking platform it’s still a form of stage time. You get to see first hand if your material works or not. Then when you actually mount the stage for competition time you know that your material is funny before you even open your mouth. That will do wonders for your self-confidence and put you at ease when you step before the judges.

Try it out and let me know if it works by posting a comment on this blog. If it does work, pop over to Brad’s blog and thank him for coming up with the idea in the first place.

There’s also the Comedy Evaluator Pro software offered by my mentor Steve Roye. He’s got a free trial available now. It allows minute by minute, second by second evaluation of your material so you can find out where the funny is. Check out here: Comedy Evaluator Pro free trail

3 comments

1 ping

  1. brad montgomery

    Thanks for the nice blog. If you want to see a video of me testing these jokes out, I’ve posted it here:

    http://www.bradlaughs.com/2008/05/06/customized-humor-how-can-you-be-sure-it-is-funny/

    It IS possible to do SOME testing for jokes….but in the end you have to have the confidence to give it a go in front of the live audience.

    cheers!

    brad

  2. Jeremy Jacobs

    Video Testimonials!!

  3. Jason Peck

    Brad,

    I absolutely agree. Whilst it’s nice to get some one-on-one time with members of your audience and try stuff out, you have to ultimately take a leap of faith. If God wanted all our jokes to work, he wouldn’t have invented saver lines.

    Jeremy,

    Thanks for stopping by. Do you mean that people who have read this blog post should leave me video testimonials?

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