Rearranging Your Routine

You may need to rearrange your routine for several reasons including writing new material, improving jokes, removing jokes, and how your jokes rank. Or you may want to use a joke that has been in your file for a while. When you include new or rewritten jokes, you will have to rearrange your routing.

It is very important that you open with strong jokes because the audience will make a decision about how funny you are within the first 30 seconds of your routine. That decision will affect the rest of your show and is very difficult to alter once you have started. On the flip side, the audience remembers you by your last couple of minutes on stage, so you also want to end with strong jokes. Most comedians will close their shows with their strongest jokes. Here are some strategies for rearranging your show:
Use you B, C, A’s.

Your best shows will open with your B material and close with your A material, while all the rest of your material falls somewhere in the middle. So you will use your B, C, A’s to order your show. Opening with your B material allows you to get the audience laughing and leaves room for you to get even better. Closing with your A material will allow you to end your show with a bang and leave a good impression on the audience. Sandwiching your average material in the middle allows you room to show a scaled increase in your show.

Draw a graph of your show. As you review your show and rank each joke, plot it on a graph. At the end you will be able to see how each joke ranked throughout your show and judge your overall performance. You will be able to see where your high points were and where your low points were. You want the graph to show a gradual increase rather than having it go up, then down, then up, and so on. This will ensure that you have a steady pace throughout your show that keeps the audience engaged and laughing.

Use the hammock technique. This is where you place a weaker piece of material between two strong pieces. This technique works for several reasons.

• You will have a better chance of your new material getting a good response because the audience will already be laughing. And if it bombs you have a chance to bring the show back up with your next joke.
• It provides a great opportunity to practice your bantering skills. Using a small gap in between two strong pieces of material will allow you to go into your riffing or bantering on a high and come out on a high whether your riffing is good or bad.
• You will be able to fill time. You may only have 25 minutes worth of material but you have a 45 minute time slot and you will be using everything you have.

This is great for improving your skills as a comedic artist, but it can be extremely stressful. If you have pieces that you are uncertain about, use the hammock technique to ensure that you get constant laughter instead of causing the audience to stop laughing.

Include sex material at the end. This is definitely worth considering when you structure your show because, for some reason, people laugh harder at sexual material. For this reason you should end your show with sex jokes. Keep in mind, that this doesn’t mean it has to be raunchy, but be playful.

Use your controversial material near the end. This works better if you have gained the audience’s approval. Controversial material could alienate your audience so you do not want to open with it. However, if you find that the audience has approved of you then by all means end with the controversial material.

Using these strategies as you rearrange your show may help you create a new story line causing you to rewrite a few of your jokes, which in turn, can lead to even more rearranging. Remember that you can only do so much on your own. After you have rewritten and rearranged your material into a decent show, you can only improve upon it more by performing in front of an audience.

Improving Your Stand-up Comedy Act