Chapter 3

Elements of Delivery

When delivering a comedy routine, or a message in a book, there are a variety of elements that need to be included or it will never arrive at its destination. An example of this would be if you delivered a package: you would need someone to pack it correctly an address to send it to, and finally you will need to have it delivered to someone’s address. If there are any steps of delivering the package that are not there, the package will not be delivered, or If any of the Elements of Delivery are not followed while delivering comedy, the message will not be understood.

Pause

Pause is the amount of time between each word. It is similar to music which assigns so many beats per bar. In music when you see a rest note, you will rest for one full beat. The faster the beat the shorter the rest will be. If you set a metronome at a faster rate the pause will be shorter. If you set a metronome at a slower rate the pause will be longer. If you speak like most people, then the pause will be around 2 seconds. If you are a fast talker, the pause can be around a 10th of a second. If you speak as slow as Bill Cosby, then the pause can be 5 seconds or two weeks.  

During the pause what is happening visually on stage is what matters.

The longest laugh (73 sec) and pause in recorded history, was (20 sec) with Jack Benny. During a live routine a man came up behind him from the curtains, put a gun to his head and said "Your your money or your life." Everyone knew Benny’s act was being cheap and loving money, and Benny took advantage of this with his facial expressions. First he was in shock, then he placed his hand to his face in a feminine gesture and turned his head slyly with his famous expression. This was the longest pause in recorded history. There were ripples of laughter going through the audience. It isn’t so much the quiet that is important, it is what you are doing visually that makes it work. What you do with your eyes in the moment is the important part. This brings 70 seconds of non-stop laughter. Thirty to forty seconds of pause. Giving a new facial expression as the crowd fades.

The joke is probably not so memorable for the length of the laugh, but because it became the definitive "Jack Benny joke"—the joke that best illustrated Benny's "stingy man" persona. The punch line—"I'm thinking!"—would not have worked with any other comedian than Benny.

When the joke was done in live performance, it lasted longer. Jack Benny’s faces gave him the ability to ride the audiences laugh with crests and valleys.

According to Benny himself, Mary Livingstone got the biggest laugh he ever heard on the show, on the April 25, 1948, broadcast. The punch line was the result of the following exchange between Don Wilson and noted opera singer Dorothy Kirsten:

Don Wilson: Oh, Miss Kirsten, I wanted to tell you that I saw you in "Madame Butterfly" Wednesday afternoon, and I thought your performance was simply magnificent.

Dorothy Kirsten: Well, thanks, It's awfully nice and kind of you, Mr. Wilson. But, uh, who could help singing Puccini? It's so expressive. And particularly in the last act, starting with the allegro vivacissimo.

Don Wilson: Well, now, that's being very modest, Miss Kirsten. But not every singer has the necessary bel canto and flexibility or range to cope with the high tessitura of the first act.

Dorothy Kirsten: Thank you, Mr. Wilson. And don't you think that in the aria, "Un bel dì vedremo", that the strings played the con molto passione exceptionally fine and with great sostenuto?

Jack Benny: Well, I thought—

Mary Livingstone (to Jack): Oh, shut up!

According to Benny, the huge laugh resulted from the long buildup, and the audience's knowledge that Benny, with his pompous persona, would have to break into the conversation at some point.

Later in life, while performing as a stand-up comedian in Las Vegas, Benny had just begun to tell an old joke about the salesman, the farmer, and the farmer's daughter: "So the salesman and the farmer's daughter come to the front door, and the farmer opens the door." At this point, Sammy Davis, Jr. walks onstage behind Jack, the audience screams, and Davis procesing and dance for about 25 minutes while Benny continues to stand at center stage, quietly watching the spectacle. When Davis finally walks offstage and the audience's applause dies down, Benny continues to watch Davis offstage for a few moments, then, as the audience is finally quiet, continues: "... So the farmer said—" And that's as far as that joke got, because the audience laughed for minutes afterward.

A quick pause between each word is a half a second pause is long. A slow pause between each word is six seconds. Two beats constitute a second for the average standup comedian. A pause for a fast talking comedian is a word per beat.  The majority of pauses last for two and a half beats or one and a half seconds. Some comedians will pause for longer, and some will pause shorter, but the average is one and a half seconds.

In the moment of pause be careful what you move. If you move, incorrectly it will be like throwing a wet blanket on the fire. Movement during pause only happens when it is completely choreographed. If it is choreographed correctly it will be like throwing gasoline on a fire. When Jack Benny brought his hand to his face, everyone in the audience recognized this as a part of his act, and went along with it.

An example of holding still for a long pause would be Sheldon on the big bang theory. Not even an eye twitch, nothing moves when he is pausing during the joke. Sheldon from big bang is the master waiting for four seconds for the punch line, and you will think the TV is froze up. They will be talking and she will ask him a question. He goes left, but the mind of the viewer goes to the right. Then Sheldon goes to the left. He is an absolute genius!

George Burns and Milton Berle  (Uncle Milty) was out to dinner. George burns was sitting across the table from Milton Berle. George gestures at Milton. Milton leans way in, and

George keeps on eating his dinner.  George played the joke three times during the dinner..

The William Tell Overture highlights the pause before the boom. In comedy the pause is as important as the space in the symphony. There is a science of comedy just like there is in a musical score. You can write a musical score for comedy like you would for an opera. Everyone says that there are no rules, it's trial and error, yet when recording comedy there is a formula for composing comedy.

Patter

Patter: When you ask the audience a question. They give you a response. Less than 2% of comedians can do it. The danger is that the guy in the audience might be wittier than the comedian on the stage. Patter is where the best comedy comes from because it is like going to a Grateful Dead Concert. When you go to a Grateful Dead Concert, you will always hear something that you have never heard before. It's real, it's spontaneous, it's responsive to the audience. When you use patter in Comedy, it does the same thing. It becomes real, spontaneous, and responsive to what is happening.

Patter is the ability to respond the audience. It is like a great boxing match between the comedian and the audience. Though you must become careful of someone in the audience that can become distracting to your routine.

In the TV show ‘Who’s Line is it Anyway?’. They got into patter where they were actually bouncing off of each other. Kind of like Candid Camera, when you start patterning the laughter goes through the roof. Real is when you ask a person in the audience what is going on.  Scripted patter is when the lines are written and you give a question that has a desired response. Both engage the audience, the more authentic the patter the more the audience will be drawn to you.

Gypsy Rose Lee was the most famous stripper of all time. The reason her fame became a legend in her time was because she pattered with the men in the audience brilliantly. Every time on stage she had a comeback for anything and everything that they said to her. 

Mae West was a famous actress that would do the same with reporters.  A reporter would approach her, and whatever question he would ask, she would respond with a sexual response. She said with her sexy witt “I can’t even order a cup of coffee without someone taking it wrong!” Reporters would ask an off question and she would say “I wouldn’t touch that line with a ten foot pole.” Pause, then ask “Do you have a ten foot pole?” She was the only actress that could upstage the most famous WC Fields. She would scan him from head to toe, bat her eyes, and say “Save a boyfriend for a rainy day - and another, in case it doesn’t rain.”

Joke Followed by a joke

In performance the mood of the audience will ebb and flow. Joke Followed by a Joke is the timing that a comedian will use to keep the audience engaged. The same of a fighter starting with a jab, and follows with a punch. When you pull the rug from under them you hit them again before they have the chance to recover. When the audience reaches a laughing peak, just before the joke starts to die, and then give the audience has an even larger punch line. Half of the fun that you get is the breath you take in between the laughter if the comedian is good enough.

Never do a weak joke followed by a strong joke. This will prematurely kill the mood.

When using joke followed by a joke there will be a series of punch lines that are in threes. These are called triples. When we tell three jokes that are related to each other, We start by telling a joke that is mild, then one that is medium, and one that will knock the out of the park.

It is not comedy unless you take them into the experience that the audience is having with their lives. The first joke is a generality like Google showing the view of the earth when you ask it to show you your home, then you ask Google to show you your home and it shows you the state of Utah then you ask Google for to show you your home and it shows you a street view of your front yard. We need to do the same thing with comedy. We tell a joke that is general about the lives they are having, more specific, and then, BAM! hit them at home.

You could start with a joke about the war between cats and dogs, you have to end with cats and dogs.  If you start with a joke about the war between men and women, you have to end with the joke between the war between men and women.

There is no fourth joke. You must move onto a new idea after you get a triple. Start fresh. Use pause, new position on stage, and switch to a new topic. On any given topic, such as the war between men and women, you never spend more than seven minutes. When you do switch topics, do it at the end of a triple.

Three’s

 

When delivering comedy you will need to deliver in series of threes. There are the three witches that give you three wishes. Three guys walk into a bar. Three chances. Three Musketeers. Three Amigos. Genie says I will give you three wishes. The villain says I will give you three chances or I will do evil toward you.

One has the power of one. One person in a sitcom. One person in a comic strip. One person in a story. Two is ten times more powerful than one.Three is 100 times more powerful than the above. Four is less than one unless the fourth person is very quiet and still.

Women get in groups of three and keep everyone else out. If there is a fourth, the fourth is quiet. The fourth observing will strengthen the power of the three. The Marx have a fourth brother he was deaf. The Marx Brothers added a fourth and he never said anything. Noises of his horn when he wanted attention and facial expressions and gestures, but no talking. The most solid stool always has three legs. The triangle is the strongest structure.

The Human Brain can only see in three dimensions.

The Difference Between Medicine and Poison?

One of the mildest substances is baking soda. This substance can also be used as a medication. You can use toxic chemicals to cure disease. The whole thing depends on how you use them or how you deliver them that will prove their effectiveness. The benign and the most deadly substance known to man can do the job. Neither one has a value unless it is applied correctly. Humor only takes place in the mind. When it comes to humor, all things are equal. The only thing that increases the power of humor is the mind. If the mild does not work then go to the poison (the less is often more effective).

The point is, What is the response that you want to get out of your audience?

Prop Power

Everything in the room has the potential to be used as a prop. Your face alone has the potential of 50 props. Remove one tooth from your mouth, and you will quickly see the importance of your teeth as a prop. The most most potent facial prop is your eyes. There is more emotion, expression, and communication done with the eyes than any other object. Nothing conveys emotions as effectively as a person's eyes.

In a competition when they say prop, they mean everything that you carry on stage with you. They consider any item on your body that is attracted to you in competition are considered props, when in actuality these facial expressions are your most important props.. In competition they will not mark this against you when they say “No Props!”

Most comedians cannot work with props. Just a handful cannot work without props (Gallagher, Carrot Top, The Amazing Jonathan).

The most important thing is to be familiar with your props when you go on.

Music Score

Humor depends on the tone, timbre, and pitch you use in delivery.

When you whine, it is going to be annoying. When you are whining and complaining, it is the most annoying of all. When the annoying whine is used by children and adults, it is usually at a C sharp. When Ray Romano or Red Fox whine and complain, it is done at a B flat. At C sharp you feel pain, and at B flat you feel incongruous. The incongruity makes us laugh.

They whine at a B flat and they also have a humors sounding voice that which is more incongruous so it becomes humor. You need both pitch and a funny (weird, odd or unusual) voice to work. It is like a voice that has speech impediment, but is trying so hard to speak correctly that the audience is forced into feeling compassion for the person.

Audiences

If you are talking to one or one million people, these people are your audience. The audience is the judge, jury, and executioner. The audience is the final authority on every joke.

An example is when Chris Rock killed then in LA, but down in the deep south, they were ready to kill him.

         

If you are wanting to make an infant laugh. First you must make sure that its basic needs are met first. You must first make sure that it is not tired, hungry, thirsty,sick, wet/poopy pants, or if it has other discomforts. Then you make sure that the infant has nothing else that could possibly be more interesting than you. Then you hold them so that they can only see you, and you are something of interest to them. An audience is exactly like a baby.

This can be broken down into the three steps of audience preparedness: Comfort, Interest, and Focus. Ask yourself these before approaching your audience. This works for audiences between 1 and 100 million.

1.     Comfort: Are they sick thirsty hungry, tired, wet/poopy pants… any discomfort?

2.     Interest: Is there anything more interesting than you?

3.     Focus: Can you hold them so that they can only see you and you match their interest?

The theater is the perfect place for this to happen. The theater provides candy, comfortable seats, and a room at perfect temperature. When you enter into the theater you are presented with posters and beautiful furniture and furnishings, all of this to distract you so that you do not know where you are at. They do the same thing in Vegas ten times over, so that customers have a hard time staying in touch with reality.