Throughout the school year, I talk to high school freshmen and sophomores about the benefits of sexual abstinence before marriage. You wouldn’t think that would make me very popular, but the truth is…I tend to get quite a few laughs and a fair amount of undivided attention.
Because I’ve been doing this speaking thing for something like 12 years, the following excerpt from the book, Comic Insights: The Art of Stand-Up Comedy, by Franklyn Ajaye, was an interesting and needed kick in the pants.
The author, who is a stand-up comedian himself, is interviewing television host and comedian Bill Maher:
Ajaye: Have you ever been working clubs and found that a routine that was working suddenly stops working for no reason?
Maher: Yeah, that's a funny phenomenon. The joke sorta like goes away. That's why I tape every set because sometimes it's just the delicacy of how you do it. You do it almost the exact same way, and it's a completely different result. It really depends on very, very minute things in there that either give the audience just enough information - or maybe too much information - before the punch line so that it's not a surprise. Whatever it is, it's still a mystery to me when a bit goes away. Also, I think an audience can sense when you're excited about it and it's new to you. Sometimes you're not thinking about why it's funny anymore because that's gone away for you. You have to get back into what you loved about it to begin with, so that you're not just reciting words that you've said before.
Truth is…I can’t believe I’m taking advice from Bill Maher, but I see a tremendous advantage to really caring about what you’re saying, instead of just adding to the planet’s supply of blathering.