Humor Power Tip: The Laugh Goes Last

There are a couple basic sections to any joke – the set up along with the punch – the first part (set up) where you seriously build up a premise, and then the next element where you stun the listeners with an surprising ending. The humor is in the second part. It really should be evident that the humorous element should go last. Nevertheless I have found a lot of comics try and put it in the middle. From now on, etch this fundamental truth upon your heart: the punch line (a.k.a. funny part) goes at the finish of the joke. After that, leave it alone. Stop with the punch line. Say the funny and get out.

What is a punch line? The punch line is the piece of your statement that makes it a joke – the humorous component – oftentimes a word, many times a phrase. The punch line is the reason why you have your serious set-up and where you expect your listeners will laugh. With no punch line you are missing the point and you’d better head back to the drawing board.

But… why use the punch line at the finish? Once the audience listens to the funny part they should laugh (hopefully). And while they’re laughing they aren’t listening. So whatever you state following the punch will not be taken in by the audience unless you wait to allow them to finish laughing, and then the remainder of the line probably isn’t vital unless it’s funny as well.

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But… suppose my next line is a killer? If the upcoming line is fantastic, you still should wait to enable them to stop laughing so that you can present it. If you have a joke that functions off another joke, this is known as a tag. Usually, tagging a prior joke never bombs and is a high percentage laugh maker. Most likely as the crowd feels as though you have an inside joke with each other, and in all likelihood since they think you’re making that joke up on the spot – and audiences LOVE IT when they think you just came up with the joke right there on the platform.

As a motivational speaker, even when I am creating something that is only humorous instead of a spew-milk-through-your-nose funny joke, I make a concerted effort to put the funny aspect at the conclusion where it will be far more surprising. After which I go on to something else. Therefore repeat after me: I promise to set the punch line at the finish of my joke.

Try it consistently and you’ll be stunned at how well it works!

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