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Stand-up Techniques: Problem-Solution

I'm doing a series of short videos on stand-up comedy techniques. This one is about telling the audience what the problem is (and getting laughs there) but THEN setting out a surprising, absurd or counter-intuitive solution. It's this second step that can get the biggest laughs but a lot of acts only do the first part - the problem. In my video, see the technique in action with clips from Emily Heller and Joey Medina.

In stand-up it's very common to talk about a PROBLEM - or indeed to rant about it. You can get laughs from people feeling your pain, recognising the issue themselves. Or if they don't experience the problem themselves, the funniness can come from the fact that you have an idiosyncratic issue that others don't.

Many acts leave it at that, exploring the PROBLEM. But a next step is to come up with a SOLUTION to the problem. A sensible, pragmatic, effective solution won't be funny, so you're looking to come up with a surprising, counter-intuitive, absurd solution.

In my examples Emily Heller has a PROBLEM with wearing gym clothes - how they make her look and the assumptions people make about her wearing them (and she gets laughs from this). But then she goes onto her SOLUTION - which is to wear a hospital gown when she exercises. Now she looks like a hero who is fighting back against her health issue!

And it's when she presents this SOLUTION that the biggest laughs are to found. In my other example Joey Medina has a similar, and equally inspired, solution to the problem of being judged on his appearance at the gym, and in the same way the biggest laughs are from this solution.

So in your comedy - on whatever topic - set out the PROBLEM and then give us surprising, counter-intuitive, absurd SOLUTION. Maybe you have some existing material where you're only doing the first part - the problem. Now get more out of it by doing the second - the solution!

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