I am a student of comedy and a big fan of the comedy writer Robert Orben. In the late fifties and early sixties, right through to the seventies, Bob Orbon published many books on comedy one-liners as well as some books on how to write and perform comedy. He even published “Current Comedy’, which was a weekly group of topical gags and jokes that DJ’s and comedians could use to keep their acts up to date with happenings in the news.
Bob talked about the importance of many things, but this really stuck with me. One of the most important things is TIMING, which he called “phrasing” and it was by definition how you deliver a gag or joke for maximum impact. The thing I learned was that timing can only be obtained by PERFORMING the material. You learn how to deliver your material by trying the jokes in several different ways and work it until you don’t need to find any variations. At that point you use that delivery of the joke because it was the most effective.
Just memorizing a joke isn’t good enough, as you could be killing it by your timing. Practice in front of a live audience is the key. Watch and listen to how other performers and announcers sustain interest in what they are saying by changing the pace, volume, and inflection. Your jokes could be a LOT funnier if you take the time to focus on your timing. Little things make a huge difference, and this is one of them!
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