Before I identify some of the major issues involved with a stand-up comedy act that is not getting laughs – which is called bombing on stage — let me say this:
There’s much more involved when it comes to developing and delivering a stand-up comedy act that does generate noteworthy laughs on a consistent basis than meets the eye.
Not that anything about developing and delivering a powerful stand-up comedy act is difficult (provided an individual has comedy talent), but is does involve consideration and application of a number of important factors that most new comedians simply ignore or that they are completely unaware of.
With that said, here are three primary reasons why a stand-up comedy act doesn’t get many laughs or no laughs at all:
1. The stand-up comedy material is simply not funny. In other words, there is no laughter value in what the comedian is saying to an audience, no matter how well they deliver their stand-up comedy material.
While this aspect of not getting laughs can be due to an absence of comedy talent, it’s much more common that the comedian has plenty of comedy talent but has opted to try to “write” their stand-up comedy act in the literal sense from a perspective outside themselves, which automatically produces a number of issues that are difficult to overcome, such as the next issue…
2. The set-ups for the stand-up comedy material are too long. Stand-up comedy material that generates noteworthy laughs has 4-6+ punchlines per minute. This is known as punchline frequency.
The longer the set-up is for any particular joke or bit, more time it takes to get to a punchline.
Let me put this another way – the longer the set-ups are, the less laughter power any particular punchline will have.
And the more a comedian talks before getting to a punchline, the lower the punchline frequency they can have in any particular minute of their stand-up comedy act.
Note: Much of this has to do with “writing” for a reader, which takes many more words to communicate ideas, thoughts, opinions, experiences, observations, etc. due to the absence of all the other communication attributes involved when people communicate verbally in a “face-to-face” environment, whether it be on stage or off stage.
3. The delivery of the stand-up comedy material is poor. Stand-up comedy audiences are smart and know immediately if a comedian is ill prepared to deliver a professional, tightly constructed stand-up comedy act — which automatically reduces the laughter response a comedian can generate.
Audiences also know when they are being “joked”, meaning that the comedian is trying to “sell” stand-up comedy material that is not funny or they are perceived as being “phony” or insincere when delivering their stand-up comedy material.
Either way, the results are the same – greatly diminished laughter response from the audience.
For more detailed information on why a new comedian’s stand-up comedy act tends to bomb miserably on stage over and over again, I recommend that you take the time to review the 5 free lessons in the Killer Stand-up Online Course.