Telling a great joke actually isn’t that easy, even if comedians like Louis CK make it look simple. While part of being a good joke teller is practise, there are some strategies you can learn from masters like Louis CK. Here’s what we mean.
In the video above, Nerdwriter1 analyses Louis CK’s “Monopoly joke”, in which he describes playing Monopoly with his daughters. Here are the four strategies used in that joke, that you can use to make your own jokes better.
- Make every word (and pause) count. Even though the example joke has a lot of filler words, repeated words and pauses, they all serve a purpose. They contribute to the right rhythm and timing in the joke, which are crucial for setting up punchlines and making your joke come off as natural rather than rehearsed.
- Set up the premise. If you don’t properly set up the premise of your joke, the audience won’t “get” it and your joke will fall flat. Make your premise clear so that they know what you’re getting at and generally where you’re going.
- Use a counterpoint to build anticipation. Not every joke needs a counterpoint, but it helps illustrate where your premise is going and emphasises the premise. Keeping with the Monopoly joke example, Louis CK paints a picture of how dark Monopoly is compared to another well-known kids’ game — Candyland.
- Stay “in the bit” when the audience is laughing. Rather than moving on to the next part of the joke, or the next joke, use that time to emphasis what you just said with phrases that have the same sentiment.
Of course, these aren’t the only strategies you can use, but they are ones you can apply fairly directly. For more detailed analysis (and the punchline of the joke), check out the video above.
How Louis CK Tells a Joke [Nerdwriter1 (YouTube)]