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308 Posts

Profile of Kune
I've heard some people argue (mostly comedians who are concerned about their laughs per minute), that all jokes should be as short as possible.
On the other hand I've heard other argue that you should always have an extremely long build up, thus increasing tension, and getting a far bigger laugh once you finally arrive at the punchline.

I'd like to hear the views of everyone here, but first I'll give my own...
I personally feel there is a place for long jokes and a place for one liners (and everything in between). However in almost all cases, I think the punchline should be delivered with as few words as possible ("my dog has no nose -- how does he smell? -- awful" works a lot better than "my dog has no nose -- how does he smell? -- he doesn't smell very good, except when I've used the new dog shampoo on him").
That said, I believe there will be plenty of exceptions to that rule as well (mostly performers who are funny even when they aren't saying anything funny in itself).
Back on to how long the build up should be, I think ultimately it best to do whatever feels natural, since (in my case at least), trying to fully analyse it is almost impossible, like most other aspects of comedy.

I look forward to hearing other peoples thoughts on joke length, and what conclusions you've reached.
Brent McLeod
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Inner circle
1716 Posts

Profile of Brent McLeod
As A Professional corporate performer I find
as you mention shorter gags & 1 Liners work better for me
as wel as lots of humour in the Magic you perform also..

Long jokes seem to work better later in a show when the audience know you
and have had a great time with your act & humour earlier..that hopefully has had them laughing
and enjoying you....

I work in comedy clubs also and Ive seen many a new act die on stage as the crowd didn't like the performer & no matter
what gags are done long or short makes it tough even thought the jokes are good etc!!!!!
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Inner circle
The UK, Portsmouth
2579 Posts

Profile of Sealegs
In the context of a comedy magic show lines usually serve the job more readily than jokes but there are always exceptions.

Longer jokes on their own don't have to rely on a single punchline... a longer joke can have a number of punchlines embedded into in that lead to the big payoff.

There's no right or wrong way with any of this stuff though... there's just stuff that works for an individual and stuff that doesn't and what's a smile free zone for one is a gut busting belly laugh for another.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
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