Tips for Structuring Your Comedy Routine


What kind of routine you have during your comedy act will depend somewhat on the type of comedy you do. Naturally, you want to grab attention at the start, but then you also want to keep the attention through the body of your performance.


While you want to keep your audience interested, you don’t want them to be laughing non-stop (not quite) because (a) while they are laughing they can’t hear what you are saying, and (b) constant laughter tends to wear the audience out. So while you come on with a big splash to grab attention, you can sort of fade in and out a bit.


What this means is that once you have attention and laughter, then let the audience calm down a bit while you start to spin the next joke. This gives them a bit of breathing space – not too long mind, or you might lose them. Make sure that once you’ve delivered the punch line and everybody laughing that you give them time to get over that before you begin the next one. Otherwise they are going to miss the set up and miss the next punch line.


But you can’t just stand there grinning like an idiot until they finish laughing. Instead, watch how some of the pros do it. Some give a little grin and cough discreetly. Others begin the next introduction and then stop, pause and repeat it. Yet other comedians might pull a face, or walk around the stage a bit, or pat their face with a handkerchief. It only takes a few moments to pull the attention back, but that time is vital to the success of the ensuing routine.


Create balance in your routine by doing jokes of different lengths alternately, such as short, long, short or long, short, long, etc. This also helps the audience. If you have all short jokes, it tends to wear the audience out more quickly. To go from a short to a long and back to a short evens it out and helps the audience to concentrate.


It’s a bit like asking a person to read one long length of manuscript with no breaks in it. They’ll get bored easily and skip half. You don’t want your audience to start getting bored if you do three or four long jokes one after the other.


Once you’ve come to the end of your routine you should go out with a bang, That is, keep the best joke till last. It has to be the strongest line and the funniest-of-all joke. Never try out something for the end that you are not sure is funny.