When you record your sets, you should be listening to see what flows and what needs to be edited out. It is hard sometimes to do this to your own set because we as comics can falsely justify every word we say. But in reality, we have a lot of unnecessary filler in our act. We say things that don’t add to the joke. You feel it helps the joke but it doesn’t. It adds lulls. If you go through a 5 minute set and edit out all the clutter words and unneeded chatter, you could find enough time to add another 30-45 second bit. And adding another joke just makes your set tighter and your act stronger. But, how do you know what to take out? Ask yourself questions of about everything you say. Most importantly, ask questions of the questions you ask in your act.
Do you guys watch Netflix? Who here has kids? Who else hates avocado toast? These questions are pointless. Are you not going to tell the avocado toast joke if the audience doesn’t answer correctly? How they answer doesn’t matter, so why ask the question? Just get to the joke. Go through your set. Just listen for questions. You will be shocked at how many you ask. You hear about what Trump said? You are going to tell them what Trump said, that is why you brought it up. You don’t need to conduct a survey first. Just do the avocado Trump joke.
Questions aren’t only pointless to the joke you are telling, they can cause distractions and in some cases, derail the momentum of your set. Because, if you ask questions, some people feel the need to answer. And those people are usually either drunk, stupid or a combo platter of both. And an inebriated doofus can bring your act to a screeching halt. They could answer something that you weren’t prepared for and throw an entire monkey wrench into the act. And then you have to defuse that bomb before getting back to the joke. Even if you handle it well and get a laugh off of how you handled the heckler, the crowd is now distracted from the bit and you have to reset. And now you have not only wasted more of your time on stage but you may not be able to follow what you just did with the rowdy alcoholic answering machine. Most heckles don’t come from nowhere. They happen when a person in the audience stupidly thinks the comedian wants an answer to the question they asked. You guys drinking tonight? If they are, they may answer with way more information that just YES. Human beings answer questions. If you don’t want answers, don’t ask questions. Just tell the joke.
A comic’s job is to paint a picture. To be able to make the audience see what they are talking about. Asking the audience if they have seen the thing or heard of the subject is lazy writing. Pulling out questions from your act will challenge you to push your creativity. The joke will become more descriptive now that you can’t just depend on them having knowledge of the subject matter. Asking questions in your act is just assuming that the audience is aware of what you are talking about. Always assume they don’t. That will push you to write a joke that will relate to those who AND those who don’t. Making your joke more universal. The joke will connect and relate better with the audience. Questions make those who don’t have the answer feel left out. And when an audience member feels left out, they tune out.
Yes, a question can make the audience feel like you are talking to them, not just reciting jokes. But so can a well written joke that has been performed and edited so many times that it is flawless and feels like it is being said for the first time. Eliminating questions will enhance your act. It will avoid confusion. And will stop you from questioning why the audience isn’t laughing as much as they should be. Questions your questions.