Giving the audience what they want

You want to have a joke every six to nine seconds. I’m not one of those people who thinks ‘it was better in my day’ or any of that horse shit. When I go on The Tonight Show now, I don’t even sit down and talk. I just go out there, I do stand-up, and then I leave. Here’s Jay Leno. Here’s a bunch of jokes. Thank you and good night. I’ve never been narcissistic enough to think that people want to see me. I always feel like they want to see the product I produce.


Related posts tagged 'Comedy theory'


Related posts tagged 'Comedy theory'

When I started there were 5 funny comics out of 100 then there was 5 out of 500 now there's 50k & only 5 are funny. It's going to be worse as audience doesn't know the diff as long as the structure is there which you can learn easily & trick the audience. You can't create art.
I did swear a little bit in the beginning and then I didn't like how easy it was. It felt like cheating, so I stopped.
I guess there came a time, and I missed it, when revealing everything started to be considered art. I’d always learned that concealing everything was art. And I still believe that, because comedy is a vulgar art; it’s an art that’s just beginning to take form because it’s so young. But I can look at other art forms and see how postmodernism has destroyed them, and now threatens to destroy stand-up. It’s the height of narcissism to write meta-comedy, because people aren’t interested in comedy. They’re interested in going home after shoveling shit all day and then seeing some fool perform. That’s not to say that comedy can’t make a greater point, because it can. But it can’t make a greater poi...
A lot of it is bragging. It used to drive me crazy when I knew that a stand-up’s agenda was about showing how smart they were. The last character you want to be is a guy who’s smarter than the audience. But there’s some hole inside that these stand-ups have to fill. It has nothing to do with making people laugh.
That whole punching-down thing — I absolutely cannot stand people who say that. “Punch up. Punch up.” That has got to be the most boring thing you could ever do onstage. It’s yelling into an echo chamber. What’s so fucking funny to me is that what’s really going on is never brought up. Who donates to the president and who pays for the advertising on all these big news networks? That’s shit people should be upset about. But instead, if you do a fucking feminist joke in a strip mall you make the news. So that’s just a load of shit. Smarmy people who aren’t funny say that. Comedy is a pastime. The pastime is making fun of something you’re not supposed to make fun of because that gives you a me...
I think just reminding myself to quit thinking that there’s some kind of perfect show to capture; to remind myself constantly that it is comedy and mistakes are funny. Anything that is too perfect—it kind of becomes too sterile and then it does not feel genuine. If it doesn’t feel genuine then there’s no possible way people are going to feel they saw you.
The most common question I see here on Twitter is if I have any advice on being a comedian. I have never given any but I will. It is said that you must write what you have experienced, that great comedy comes from truth, or from tragedy. All of this is nonsense. I am crushed by the time, gone and irrevocable, that these 300 pages have cost me. But here are a couple of stand-up tips. I am not sure if this can be done by the novice, but if I could go back and do stand-up differently, I would. The big problem, oddly enough, when a comedian performs, are the laughs. Stand-up comedy, as it is customarily produced, is a craft and not an art. Here is the reason. The stand-up comedian must create a ...
Believe it or not, this is something I think about a lot. I have often wondered if there's a way to teach being funny or comedy, and George Stephanopoulos actually got me wound up enough at one point that we were going to contact, I think his name was Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia, and we were gonna go in there, and I was going to teach a course on comedy. Because I know a lot about it, but I just don't know if it's teachable. I'm still wrestling with the idea if you can teach someone to be funny.
If you ask yourself, `Is there anything I can do to get a laugh?’ you can find a lot of things. And usually they’re things that other people have found. But if you take something that’s never going to work and you go, `Wow, I wonder if there’s any way I can get somebody to laugh at this?’ it’s a great challenge.
I think that comedy, at its most basic level, is making light of unpleasant things. That’s how we deal with life. I think that the myth that comedy and depression are linked, and that any artist has to be unhappy to create, is a very dangerous myth that I think has hurt a lot of people. When Robin Williams died, I did a few interviews about that, because people were reaching out to the comedy community and asking people how they felt and their personal stories. A lot of people wanted to draw a link between comedians and depression and suicide, and I think that’s a really terrible myth. Anybody can be depressed in any walk of life. It just seems strange when comedians are depressed, because t...
The US had a huge head start and we have all these cultures in our cities thrown together. There's something about that. And the whole way this country was built. People have a romanticized version or the horrific truth of it. We're sort of like Poltergeist the country.
I think the big problem with the internet when it comes to comedy is it requires too much content, and supply and demand does not work with comedy. And success goes to the ones that give the most content, but the content would be, there'll be a precise algorithm between amounts and mediocrity of content. So that's how I think the internet demands too much input of a comedian. And the successful ones will be the worst ones. I'm doing JASH, a video podcast, which is like a tv show that is only on the computer. And it's about time there was a place to put tv shows other than the TV, I've always said!
I don't do movies because I think generally the size of that content does not lend itself to great comedy; it lends itself to people saying, "Hey, I made a movie." To me, the funniest things are shorter, so I think TV series or comedians in cars, I think I have a better chance of making you laugh.
Stand-up is a form and to subvert something, you have to do it perfectly first. I remember somebody showed me a talk show with “subversion” in it — the guy chainsawed his desk. It was so stupid. Why did you build a desk in the first place if you were only going to chainsaw it? Don’t have a fucking desk! You just want little drops of subversion. Letterman in the ‘80s would be 90 percent a great talk show and then 10 percent subversion. If you get to 30 percent subversion, you’re in Andy Kaufman land. If you get to 70 percent, you’re a guy on the streets screaming at people. What are you trying to subvert anyway? Entertaining people? It’s absurd.