By Harmon Leon
|“Comedy is not pretty,” once stated funnyman Steve Martin. True, but while stating this, Martin used precision-perfect timing. The most important key to comedy is (pause) Timing. Taking a beat before you reach a big punchline, or “payoff” is (long pause) funny.|
While delivery is how you say a joke, timing is when you say it. A proper pause can help create curiosity with an audience, give them a chance to catch their breath, build tension, then zing; you burst into the funny line, ruling the day!
How to LOL IRL
Watch Letterman. Also listen to him. His timing makes you want to laugh; a large portion of which is in his pauses and rhythm, giving the audience entrance into his train of thought, allowing a true reaction to build.
"Congratulations are in order for Woody Allen - he and Soon Yi have a
brand new baby daughter. (pause) It's all part of Woody's plan to grow his own
wives" (laughter from Letterman audience)
Comedy could be defined as the derailing of a train of thought; the moment of derailing-marked by a pause, no matter how slight. Not only does it work for the professional comedian, but it can also work for you-the average Joe Shmoe-as well. Take this Chris Rock joke for example:
“Do you know what the good side of crack is? If you're up at the right
hour, you can get a DVD player for a dollar-fifty. You can furnish your whole
house for $10.95.”
Try reciting the bit using the following:
-Raise your voice at the end of a sentence.
-Plant a pregnant pause just before the last word.
-Say the line more like a question than a statement?
-Either whisper or shout the line.
-Speed up or slow down the tempo.
-Curl up into a fetal ball.
-Break down in tears when you get to the punchline
Alan Alda in “Crimes and Misdemeanors" was adamant that comedy was: tragedy + time. He claimed that joking about the Lincoln assassination wasn’t immediately funny; “But now it’s funny!” Comedy=tragedy+time!
The timing of telling joke needs distance from the event. Jokes on the latest celebrity death should commence after the proper amount of time has gone. When Frank Sinatra died, it was best to wait at least a week before proclaiming, “Old blue-eyes is now old closed-eyes.”
Here’s some recent celebrity deaths and the amount of time needed before jokes at their expense became funny:
Lady Di.......................2 weeks
Michael Jackson.........2 1/2 weeks
Ed McMahon............3 hours
Billy Mays.............. 1 day
Mother Theresa..........6.7 days
Harmon Leon is freedomhaters.org