How Often do Comedians Change Their Routine?

Ever have a friend that uses the same exact joke over and over again? After a while, it just gets annoying and frustrating. Comedians can run into the same problem if they don't change their routines. Figuring out when, how much to change, and what to keep and what to cut can be exhausting to try and figure out on your own so here are some reliable tips and tricks of the business.

As a good rule of thumb, comedians should always have 3-5 routines on hand and rotate them between every venue. Do not use the same routine at the same venue. Try to make a new routine every month to stay fresh, but continue to workshop new jokes all the time.

Basically, every comedian needs to have at least have 3 routines that are tried and true to switch between. If you get a lot of shows, you'll need to have an even larger stock of jokes and routines to fall back on. Crafting a new routine can be tough, and you might not know when is the right time to switch it up. We've provided some tips and guidelines below to help you out.

Comedy Routines

When you're workshopping your routines, don't trust critiques from close friends and family (unless they can be brutally honest). They tend to be a bit biased when they judge you and will not be truly representative of your main audience.

Try timing yourself and see how long it takes to work through the script. Write out some notes or an outline, but here is the tricky part, try going off-script. Even if it's just once in a while.

You've got to reel in that humor that comes from inside you. Just be natural, loose, and enjoy the moment.

Each comedian is unique and has a unique voice, tone, humor, laughter, appearance, lifestyle, background, etc. So there is no right or wrong way to go about switching things in or out. But keeping the same routine every single time is not going to be great for any comedian (or their audience). Repeating yourself over and over again is not going to get you anywhere.

Here is a flexible standard routine for comedy gold:

Stand-up comedians are risk-takers by necessity. How terrible would it be to go walk up on stage, tell a one-liner, a funny line, or whatever it may be and there is just dead silence? Booing? This career includes a LOT of vulnerability and just putting yourself out there. Scanning the rows and aisles of faces and not seeing anyone even just faintly smiling can be very discouraging for some comedians.

However, do not fear because there are plenty of audiences out there who are looking for a great laugh. You never know if you will say a great joke at a great time until you try it.

Different Venues

The rate at which you switch up your routines depends on the venue. There is comedy everywhere across the United States. They are comedy clubs, comedy festivals, bars, pubs, nightclubs, theatres, colleges, YouTube videos, retirement homes, book stores, etc. Not to mention that you might find. yourself performing in different cities, towns, cultures, and ethnic groups. Some jokes resonate better in certain places than others.

If you will be performing at the same venue for a few nights in a row, do NOT use the same routine twice in a row. You can maybe re-use a few of the best crowd-pleasing jokes, but don't repeat yourself verbatim. The more routines you have, the better. Even if they aren't all 100% hits, you have a good base to work with.

Keep your routines written down if you're traveling a lot. This can really help formulate a good plan for your up-and-coming career. Set a goal pathway. Where do you see yourself in the future? Where are you hoping to go from here? What venues do you want to be seen at? Is there a certain kind of audience one is looking for? Maybe a faction one can relate to?

All these things are going to be contributing factors in a comedy, writing, acting, and stand-alone career.

Kinds of Comedy

There is a lot of different kinds of comedies out there. To videos, stage acting, voice acting, stand up, sketch comedy, tv series, etc. Comedy is central to entertainment. Entertainment is very, very focused on what is and is not funny. Otherwise known as entertaining.

Comedy plays a HUGE role in movie stars careers, even if they are not a comedian. The ability to make other people laugh is a gift that can set one down a successful career path.

Creating a New Routine

Every comedian operates a bit differently, but everyone needs solid routines. When it's time to replace an old routine or make a new one, look at the things that have worked in the past.

Try to compile your successful jokes and see what connects them. Look for your defining comedic traits and try to connect them to your future performances.

Look around you for inspiration! Try new things and step outside your comfort zone when you're searching for new material. The people around us are great sources of comedy, even if they don't know it. Pay attention, take notes, and look for the things that others might ignore.

Finally, test out your new routine in a few different locations. Try to perform for strangers who won't care about sugar-coating their critiques. Open mic nights are great places to test out your new material!

Great vs Terrible Comedy

Every comedian is trying to get a laugh at the end of the day. When you're formulating new jokes and routines, it's important to know what makes comedy successful so you can appeal to your audience and leave them clapping. Below are some tips for creating good comedy and avoiding the bad.

Great Comedy

Understands her/his audience. Healthy interaction occurs with the audience. Comedians ask them informal questions. Doing this helps the audience feel more seen and more included. It can be difficult when the audience is not receptive though.

Certain jokes may work well with one audience, and not in another. You've got to keep your comedy versatile and consider the age, gender, class status, culture, and geographical location of your audience. For example, inside jokes about farming might not land as well in an urban crowd.

Great comedians also are great observers. You need to pay attention to your everyday life as you look for more material. Personal connections and experiences are always funnier than "Well I heard...". Keep yourself open to new experiences, because you never know when comedic material might appear! Write down notes of your experiences so you don't forget them later.

Bad Comedy

Keeps the exact routine. Repeating jokes over and over will get old, even if they were funny at first. Don't always stick with the safe choice, and try out some new material.

Offensive jokes. It happens, sometimes the joke goes a bit too far. Mistakes happen, but comedy is not meant to pull people down, it is meant to make people smile. If your joke is met with boos or silence, it's time to cut it from your repertoire, not try to defend it or get mad at your audience.

Your audience decides what is funny, not you! If something consistently doesn't get a laugh, don't keep pushing it. Get ready to cut jokes from your book, even if you love them.

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