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The best Stand-Up Comedy routines have Four Laughs per Minute (and other comedic tips)

You know what made the Class Clown funny? They knew how to deliver a maximum number of laughs to the classroom before they were kicked out and sent to the Principal’s office.

A good Class Clown knew they had a limited amount of time to deliver, and the best ones would knock it out of the park, every time. You know the ones – those stories that you’re still telling at the 25th or 50th class reunions (embellished over the years or not).

Today’s stand-up comedians don’t just instinctively know and understand how to create and deliver a joke. They work hard at their craft, tweaking and customizing each joke for maximum funny, over years and years of performances.

This is according to STEPHEN ROSENFIELD, the founder of the AMERICAN COMEDY INSTITUTE, who knows a thing or two about comedy.

According to the ACI, the goal that every comedian strives for is that magical “four laughs per minute” number during their routine.

When you’re watching a new comedian stretch a joke out too long, they’re not focusing on delivering that constant laugh response from the crowd, and they run the risk of losing the audience. We’ve all seen bad comedians do this – but now we know why: it’s because established comedians know how to hit that “four laughs per minute” cadence.

What this means for the average comedian is that they’ll need about 20-30 punchlines for a five-minute set. One comedian said that for a 60-minute set, he had to have at least 360 jokes ready to go.

Phyllis Diller holds the Guinness record for having a routine with the most laughs per minute (twelve!). Her routine was one setup following by 12 punchlines, according to the book THE COMEDY BIBLE: FROM STAND-UP TO SITCOM by Judy Carter.

Because Web Watch knows that you’d like to know the joke, we’re here for you:

Mother is so fat that… how can I describe her…

Phyllis Diller’s World Record comedy routine, per THE COMEDY BIBLE: FROM STAND-UP TO SITCOM by Judy Carter
  1. Jell-O with a belt
  2. When she sits down it takes the whole mess five minutes to settle
  3. When she takes her girdle off, her feet disappear
  4. In a bikini, she looks like a bear in a jockstrap
  5. We didn’t have a sunken living room until she arrived
  6. Now we have a Persian throw rug – she sat on the cat
  7. Her dress size is junior missile
  8. When she wears a white dress we show movies on it
  9. She ate my doormat – she thought it was a Triscuit
  10. She puts her makeup on with a roller
  11. She blew her nose downtown; a construction crew broke for lunch
  12. She went on the Scarsdale Diet. She ate Scarsdale.

Another secret for being a good comedian is all about the presentation. If YOU’RE enjoying your time on the stage, the audience will buy into the ride with you.

One other piece of advice is to keep in mind that the audience may not always understand your punchline is the punchline. They stay quiet, waiting for a followup that’s not coming because the comedian has finished the joke. That’s an issue with the audience, not necessarily that it’s a bad joke. Maybe you’ll need to tweak the setup a little bit, but don’t abandon the act because you didn’t get the laugh you were expecting.

Read more tips about how to write good comedy from Stephen Rosenfield here: