Put jokes in storage, not the trash

Comedy is a lot like cheese in that it at first, the tastiest things can also seem like the stinkiest. Your jokes are not all going to be good right away. Taking a new bit to an open mic and watching it die in front of your eyes is brutal and the urge to never say it again is tempting, but you have to resist it. I set a standard for myself where I run a brand new bit as it for 3-4 mics before I start tweaking. I firmly believe that you can’t make a definitive decision about the quality of a joke based on one set alone. It is important to run the experiment of that new joke a few times so you can track the results before you start looking for ways to alter it. Most of the time it is during that 2nd or 3rd run through that I come up with a new tag or find myself riffing in a direction I hadn’t thought of the first time around. Don’t be afraid of a joke being weak at first because open mics are like going to the gym and if you keep working out, that joke is going to tone up.

If something still doesn’t work after a few rewrites, you will once again have the urge to forget you ever tried it. Don’t do that. If something isn’t making progress don’t destroy any memory of its existence. Just put it away for awhile. Keep a document or notebook of stuff that you haven’t quite figured out just yet and revisit it from time to time. Think of these jokes as spare parts, like that weird bag of screws you’ve moved to 3 different apartments and still aren’t sure what they are for. You could throw them out, but you never know when they might come in handy. I can almost 100% guarantee that 5 months from now you will be writing a new bit and suddenly find a way to connect that joke about being really afraid of flushing the toilet as a kid in a way that is funny and not just weird. Good writing takes time and the sooner you accept that you’re not going to write anything groundbreaking on the first try, the sooner you will begin writing good comedy.