Many big-name comedians have to perform for an hour or two at a time. But how do they memorize all of the routines and jokes that they use to fill this time slot?
Comedians memorize all of their routines by rehearsing their routines, giving the stories they tell names, taping sets, performing often, telling jokes related to each other, and by taking their time while performing. However, every comedian has a different way to memorize the routines they create.
Everyone understands what it's like to experience stage fright and forget what you were trying to say. But how do comedians overcome this issue and properly memorize all of their comedy routines? We'll discuss some good techniques and habits below.
They Rehearse and Repeat Jokes
Comedians repeat and rehearse their jokes while they are at home. They tell their jokes to their friends and family and see if the jokes make them laugh. If the jokes don't make their friends and family laugh, then they change the joke to make them funnier.
This also helps them remember the joke because they are repeating and changing it to make it better and more memorable. The funnier it is, the more likely that the comedian will remember the joke because they remember the reaction the joke received.
Before they start repeating the jokes, they write them down. This also helps them memorize the jokes that they can put into their comedy routine.
They Give the Stories Names
Comedians often give their jokes names, especially when the joke is told like a story. For example, Gabriel Iglesias has a story called "The Gift Basket." If you would like to see a clip of the full Gift Basket joke, click here. He knows the story, he knows how to tell it in a funny way, so it is easy for him to memorize it. He also has multiple jokes related to his experiences with cops, so when he tells a story about a cop, he knows what other stories to tell that are very funny.
They Perform Often
Comedians perform as often as they can. The more that they perform, the more they tell jokes, and the easier it is to remember and memorize the jokes that they are telling. The more comedians repeat jokes, the easier they are to remember, and the less they have to practice telling the joke before a performance. This also helps the comedian get exposure, which helps them book gigs and perform even more frequently.
They Tell Related Jokes
In order to remember jokes, comedians tell jokes that are related to each other. If they tell a joke about their experiences with cops, but it ends with them going out to eat, then they talk about fast food. If they talk about fast food and how often they eat at fast-food restaurants, they tell jokes related to their weight. If the joke about their weight ends with an interaction with a family member, then they tell a joke about their family members. Every topic should bridge smoothly into the next one.
If a joke ends with something that is related to the next joke that they are planning on telling, then it is easier to remember their entire routine. It also helps with the flow of the routine, which helps the jokes be funny to the audience. The funnier a comedian is to their audience, the more popular and famous they become.
They Tape Sets
Many comedians tape their sets, especially beginner comedians. This way, they can re-watch and re-listen to the different jokes that they told. This helps them memorize the jokes that they told during the set. It also helps them review and revise the jokes because while watching the tape, they can hear the audience laugh. If the audience didn't laugh at a joke, they can revise it and make it funnier and easier to remember.
Sometimes comedians record themselves telling the jokes while at home, away from an audience, and then listen to themselves telling the jokes in order to help them memorize their routine. This way, they can ensure that they are telling the complete joke because they can look at notes while recording at home.
This also helps the comedians ensure that they are telling the jokes clearly and in a way that their audience can understand. If they are stumbling while telling a joke, they know they need to review a joke, and maybe change it to make it easier to tell.
They Take Their Time Performing
Comedians take their time telling jokes during their routine. There is a reason why many comedy routines are an hour to two hours long; jokes take a long time to tell when they are being told effectively. Comedians take a long time to tell because the slower a comedian tells a joke, the less likely they are to stumble and stutter over their words. If a comedian stutters or stumbles over their words, then the jokes that they tell will not be as funny to the audience.
Comedians don't tell many jokes during a one-hour performance when you really look at it. Comedians tend to tell 10-15 jokes during a one-hour routine, sometimes even fewer if the jokes that they tell are told in a long story format. This means that they are taking about 6 minutes to tell each joke. However, the number of jokes told in an hour does vary with each comedian. But this means that comedians only have a few jokes that they have to remember for a one-hour performance, which makes it easier for them to memorize the jokes in their routine.
The fewer jokes a comedian has to tell during a single routine, the easier it is for them to remember all of the jokes they are planning on telling. Also, if they only have a few jokes to tell during a one-hour routine, they have a chance to interact with their audience, which makes the audience feel seen and relate to the comedian. This increases the comedian's popularity.
Many comedians wait until the audience stops laughing at the previous joke to tell another one, which sometimes takes time. But the time between telling a joke and when the audience stops laughing gives the comedian time to remember what they are planning on saying next, and how it relates to the joke that they told before. This helps them remember what jokes they have memorized and rehearsed. Comedians have many tactics that they use in order to help them memorize their routines.