Monday, March 30, 2015


Would you like to be a comedy reviewer? Are you hoping to get paid for watching funny folk, and then telling the punters what their hard-earned cash should be spent on? Do you dream of your byline appearing in the Age, or Herald Sun, or one of those stupid websites or something, above some well-considered views on the art of performance and the nature of humour?

Luckily, as someone whose diverse activities involve both the art of comedy AND the art of criticism, and as someone who is generally very clever, I am uniquely well-placed to provide you with the essential tips that will help turn you into a skilled comedy-reviewing machine. Sit down and take notes, kids, it's my


1. Remember to include as much detail as possible. Audiences don't like to be surprised, and comedians don't like to surprise them. Your job is to be absolutely explicit in telling potential ticket-buyers what they're in for. Most importantly, make sure that if you remember any good punchlines, you quote them verbatim - comedians love it when you do this, as it helps create a "buzz".

2. Make helpful suggestions whenever possible. If you're sitting in the audience of a show, and you think of a really good joke the comedian COULD have made, or a subject you'd like them to talk about, slip that into the review. It will be good constructive criticism for the performer, and act as a good warning for the reader that this is a comic who has a tendency to not make the same jokes that the audience came up with while watching them. Knock off a star or two for any comedian who fails to make a joke that you thought of - they're clearly not quick thinkers. Plus it lets the reader know you're a pretty funny peep yourself!

3. Describe the venue. This is crucial: nothing kills a comedy show like a comedian who refuses to perform in a big enough room, or provide comfortable chairs. The audience will want to know exactly what the venue will be like, and will hold you responsible if you recommend a comedian with a bad room. Don't let them get away with this.

4. Use lots of clever comedy-related phrases. For example, saying something "is no laughing matter" is a great way of indicating: a) that you know that comedy and laughter are connected, and b) that the thing you're talking about is no laughing matter". You could also use "tears of a clown" when a comedian talks about sad things, or "tickle the funny bone", if you want to indicated that something is funny, but need a more interesting, skeletal way of conveying it. Also, try to work in the term "belly laughs" as often as possible: it will tip the reader off that you know what you're doing to a very strong degree.

5. If a comedian is making jokes about things that, if they weren't making jokes about them, would normally be pretty serious, you should not only mention the fact, but really try to express, in the strongest possible terms, how surprising it is that this should happen. This will responsibly inform potential audience members that hey, here is a show where serious things in life will be discussed and don't be alarmed if this happens.

6. Make careful note of how often the comedian says swearwords. Many people decide which comic to see based on how many times swearing happens, and a strict accounting will help them make wise decisions.

7. Tell us what the comedian looks like. Clothes, hair, smile, everything. Nobody enjoys going to a comedy show without knowing beforehand how attractive they'll find the comedian - it can lead to all sorts of awkward moments. This is especially important for nice-looking people who say things that aren't nice. If that kind of cognitive dissonance is likely to be triggered, people need fair warning. It should be noted that this is mainly for girls, although it can be applied to men sometimes, particularly if they're fat.

8. Remember that if you don't understand the jokes, it is never your fault. Make sure everyone reading your review knows how angry you are about this.

9. If you can think of any comedian who in any way resembles to the slightest extent the comedian you are seeing, mention the fact that they are extremely similar. If you can't think of anyone, pick one at random: it is almost impossible for a person to understand what a comedy show will be like without reference to something they've seen before.

Happy reviewing!

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