Comedy Commandments – By @AlexTaylorHello
By Alexander Taylor
Hello and thanks for joining me on Mount Sinai. I realise it’s quite chilly and gusty up here so I’ll make it brief. Uh, before we begin there’s a couple points of housekeeping. Please turn off all tablet devices, pay attention. Oh, and I’ve been informed that whoever owns the red Ford Focus, please move it as you are double-parked. Okay, let’s begin.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill
This one’s pretty obvious. It doesn’t have much to do with comedy, I realise, but is still a strong rule for life. Stop snoozing at the back there.
2. Thou Shalt Not Rush
So a lot of you are going to get up on stage and say your lines at a million miles an hour. Try not to. Slow down. More people will understand you, and you will not look so damn nervous. I can’t remember the last thing I enjoyed at a million miles an hour. That’s a silly speed to enjoy something.
3. Thou Shalt Not Be Sober
Okay listen. If you wanna do this gig all sober like, that’s fine. But you aren’t achieving anything by doing it. If a pint or two calms the nerves, bottom’s up. There’s no shiny gold star for “working clean”.
4. Thou Shalt Talk To Hecklers
Nine times out of ten you will not be heckled. Especially during your first gig. It’s seen as exceptionally poor form to heckle a first-timer, particularly if it isn’t something funny. So do not worry. The audience is on your side. So don’t be afraid to talk to hecklers. You’ll usually get something funny out of it. And the audience wants you to do it.
5. Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour’s Ox
Lord, has this one got me into trouble.
6. Thou Shalt Not Swear
Swearing is neither big nor clever. If your joke relies on a swear word, it isn’t a good joke. Consider that it makes your character look very aggressive on stage. Comedy is the art-form of the nerd’s revenge. It’s the way to be attractive to peeps without playing sport. So if you play the alpha male, you’ll look very silly.
7. Thou Shalt Not Think Thou Is The Only Fucking Person In The Comedy Club
A lot of people are nervous to go up and do their set. The world doesn’t revolve around you. Confiding in others because you are nervous is human. Complaining to others because you are nervous is selfish.
8. Thou Shalt Not Obscure Thou’s Punchlines
Give it to me straight, like a pear cider made from 100% pears. If your punchline, or the really funny bit, is obscured in the set-up, no one knows when to laugh. Be really direct. You’re not forcing the punchline, you’re just making sure everyone knows it is one. If the audience does not know if they should laugh, they will err on the side of caution. The club will become rather like a John Krasinski directorial debut.
9. Thou Shalt Not Use John Krasinski’s directorial debut as a Punchline
Very few people are going to get the joke if it’s obscure as referencing A Quiet Place. Even fewer are going to laugh. Comedy is a community sport. Channel your inner Flesch. Choose being understood over being niche.
10. Thou Shalt Have Fun
Okay, the red Ford Focus has just been issued a ticket. Also, when did I say we could start handing out fish and loaves? Has any of this been green-lighted by HR? Do you know how many risk assessment forms I’ve been fucking crying over. Stop handing out fish. Stop it. Find me the man responsible. This sermon’s over. Sod off my mountain.
The copy scores 83.2 in the Flesch Reading Ease test