Funny Business – Add Some Attitude

If you saw the previous post, about finding the truths in your business, you’re ready for the next step.

If you didn’t, you’re not, but don’t worry, we’ll wait…

We’ve seen how comedy comes from truth.

Truth isn’t always funny – we need to add something to make it funny.

We need to add some attitude.

Attitude isn’t always communicated via words. It can be, but most comedians communicate attitude with their tone and delivery.

I’m struggling to come up with a better example of this than Gary Coleman delivering, “What ya talkin’ about Willis?”

When you watch a good comedian, you can tell whether they’re angry, suspicious or scared by how they act.

“So, what attitude do we need to add to our truths, and how do we go about it?”

Good question.

First off, there are many attitudes you can add to truths, but the main ones to focus on are:


(These are the main attitudes Judy Carter mentions in her book, “The Stand-Up Comedy Bible”.)

No one wants to see a happy comedian, boasting about their awesome life. Comedy is found in weird, hard, scary and stupid things.

Here’s a Bill Burr gag to highlight this point:

“Let’s go to Brunch. What a great idea! Why would you want to sleep in on a Sunday when you can go pay $18 for eggs? Now, you’re thinking.”

Even written down, you can just smell the underlying stench of, “Brunch is stupid…”, can’t you?

Now the Burr gag is a fully written, edited and audience tested joke, so before we start today’s exercise, don’t get ahead of yourself or expect comedy club quality.

We’re just adding attitude here…

The Burr gag may have started off, “Brunch is stupid. It’s just a way for someone to overcharge you for more eggs.”

So, pick one of the truths you highlighted in the previous post and ask yourself:

“Why is this STUPID?”
“What about this is SCARY?”
“This is WEIRD because”
“What is HARD about this?

Some truths won’t tick all of the SCARY, WEIRD, HARD or STUPID boxes, so don’t worry.

Let’s take an example of being a magician (I might as well help myself while I’m here!).

Truth – most people think magicians are all the same.

Let’s see what attitude we can add to this.

What’s weird about thinking that all magicians are the same is that, if we said this about race or gender, we’d be committing a crime.

What’s weird is that people think that all magicians are the same, even though we have never booked one, or likely seen one before.

It’s hard to convince people that you’re not the same as everyone else when they can’t actually see the secrets and techniques you do for a living.

What’s stupid is that magicians often use the exact same words and phrases as other magicians, in order to convince people that they are unique (with “unique” being one of those words!)

What’s scary about thinking all magicians are the same is that they will probably choose one based on an insignificant factor.

Your turn. Pick one of your truths and work it through the “What is SCARY/HARD/STUPID/WEIRD about this…?” questions above.

Go easy on yourself, sometimes these can take a while to come up to the service. If you’re struggling, stop and do something else. Let your subconscious take some of the load.

Post some of your answers, or any questions, in the comments below