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Jim Richardson's
Online tutorial

"How to Tell a Joke"

Photo of Jim holding the mike for the dummy, who is collapsed with laughter on top of a computer
While the dummy is still laughing at Jim's joke, and before the dummy dies from laughter, here are a few basic tips for your on-stage survival.

Addressing needs of all visitors:

If you are exploring

this tutorial

to improve yourself as a

corporate speaker, salesman,

office manager, actor, writer,

club owner, TV talk show host,
TV producer, executive, attorney, politician, teacher, clergy, etc., your problems in telling jokes will be essentially the same as those of a

stand-up comic.

Even if you only intend to give serious speeches, the same writing rules for putting points over apply.

Jim wants you to bear in mind throughout all his online tutorials this simple:

If you are comfortable with the purpose of these tutorials, cool!

As you come up against various comedy

"walls to push through,"

it may be helpful to take another look at Jim's keynote principle.

Let us begin:

Ask yourself this question,

on paper or just in your head,

"What do I hope to get out of this online tutorial?"

Ok: now, for a blazing fast lesson in joke editing: restate your goals in
as few words as possible.


Now ask yourself,

"What is my favorite joke?"


Before continuing with this tutorial, tell that joke to someone.

In person or on the telephone.

Must be someone who has never heard that joke before.

(tell your joke)

Ok, now go ahead and

CONTINUE with tutorial,

by taking QUIZ ONE: cartoon of happy comic with hand mike

How many sentences long is your joke?

Click on answer:

1 2 3 4 5 More than 5

How did you do on Quiz One?

If you did well, pat yourself on the back. If not, check out the alternate answers.

From now on: every time you hear someone tell a joke, especially right after you hear the funniest jokes, get in the habit of counting the number of sentences:

How many?

Do this ongoing exercise immediately, or
later on
it will be hard
to remember that joke's
exact words.

Is there any relation between
length of joke and
power of audience response?

Hint: while you are listening to a joke being told, you can easily count sentences on your fingers. Sooner or later, you will hear a speaker tell a joke
that is so long . . ..

When you try to count the number of sentences, you will run out of fingers and toes!

That's the time to test the negative effect this verbosity has on a live audience.

Quickly, sneak a look around the room.

See if anyone else in the audience is either starting to nod off or also
looking around.

When your eyes meet,

winking is allowed.

Now, let's start to set some standards: separate yourself from the rest of the world.

Create your profile for the

"ideal stand-up comic,"

then live up to your own standards.

When watching a comic, always begin by noting only his


stand- up comedy behavior.


Anyone can be bad.

  • You are looking for techniques that will help your act improve!

  • Begin by noting good behavior which fits your current imaginary profile of a stand-up comic who represents your


  • Occassionally, augment this second ongoing exercise with a few observations of bad behavior.

    Note: there is no ideal comic, just as there are no "Stepford" comics.

    Easier still:

    Like to be instantly notified whenever Jim launches a new lesson into cyber space?

    Then, please get on Jim's e-mail list by filling out this

    online form.

    See you next time!

    And, oh:
    if you don't want to wait to find out what's coming up, read on:

    Table of Contents:

    "How to Tell a Joke: on stage, during a speech and in the workplace"

    Today's lesson was:
    Addressing client needs: a safe place to take risks
    • Creating your profile for the "ideal stand-up comic"

      Future lessons may include:
    • What you and the audience already know
    Performance Technique -- how to make the audience like you
    • Confidence
      • Audience size & "The Face"
    Timing -- what it is and what it isn't
    • Adding seconds of laughter
    Memorization: work backwards

    Playing the Laugh

    • Big Laughs
      • When everyone knows the punch line is coming
      • When no one knows the punch line is coming
    Microphone Technique

    Private Comedy Library--pre-requisites:

    BOOKS to start you out:
    • "How to" books
    • Old jokes you can use
    • Quotations you can use, if you credit the authors
    • Association for Comics and Speakers
      • Newspapers and Magazines
    • Theatre Listings for San Francisco Bay Area
    Related ORGANIZED COMEDY Audio Tape/Workbook Packages
    • Performance, Marketing, Character & Joke Writing

    Are YOU ready to become a client?

    If you want all this information
    right NOW,
    it is available in
    audio tape/workbook packages.
    You can order everything listed in the above
    Table of Contents,
    much-much-much more
    Just click here.

    And/or you can proceed immediately to Jim's next sample tutorial which previews the next section of his home study program:

    "How to Write a Joke: the seven basic joke forms"

    To continue, click here now:Image of arrow pointing off the page to the right where we imagine, accurately, that the next page is lurking

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