One of the biggest obstacles facing a stand up comic is the constant repeating of the same material. It’s not much of a big deal when you are performing your set in front of a different audience every night, but it becomes quite a dilemma when performing in front of friends and family that have seen you on stage before. Those that understand the evolution of a joke know that each performance is a step in the process of perfecting your material. Although the audience may be hearing the same “bit”, they may not realize that you have added something different to it. Maybe it’s a word, a phrase or a facial expression. What ever the addition is, it is a step toward getting the joke “just right”. Personally, I’m still working on jokes that I wrote 7 years ago! Here’s one that evolved over the years:
Original version: Mexicans love to party. They have quinceaneras, weddings, baby showers…and all for the same girl.
Evolution: Mexicans love to party. In the last 3 months alone, in my family, we’ve already had a quinceanera, baby shower, wedding… and all for the same girl.
Evolution: instead of “and all for the same girl”, added, “That was a BIG day for my little cousin!”
Evolution: After adding, “That was a BIG day for my little cousin!” added the tag, “She’s a slut!”
After 7 years, the joke as it stands today: Mexicans love to party. In the last 3 months alone, in my family, we’ve already had a quinceanera, baby shower, wedding. That was a BIG day for my little cousin! She’s a slut! Ladies, that’s 3 parties and 1 dress! We put that sucker on lay away when she was 6!
Most jokes like these may start on a “hacky” premise like a Mexican 15 year old who is pregnant, but it’s what the comic does to it to make it more original that matters. In this joke, I took something familiar to my culture and added to it to make it more personal. The laughter comes when a connection to the audience has been made on a level they can identify with.
Here’s a toast to those that go out and support your friends or family on their stand up comedy career! You attend the shows expecting to hear some of the same jokes and fully understand why it has to be done, and you still support us! Without you, an audience is just not the same!