Rules on Comedy Bits

This blog post is brought to you by the dork who wrote “T.O. the Movie: starring Phil the Showkiller as the Carolina Panther cheerleaders…”

There is almost nothing better than a GREAT radio comedy “bit.”  There is almost nothing worse than a terrible radio comedy “bit.” The difference between the two is often very small, but if you follow a few simple rules, I promise you, you’ll have a higher success rate.

Beano was a bad ass in his day
  1. Are you funny? You think I’m kidding but I’m not. If you find people groaning when you make jokes, please do us all a favor and don’t do comedy bits on your radio show.  It’s clearly not your strength.
  2. Write it before you produce it: Don’t wing it. Sit down, write it out and then, and only then, should you produce it.  Write the set-up and make sure you know where you’re going when it’s done.
  3. Push towards the absurd.  Stating the obvious is, well, obvious and thus not that funny. Push your joke beyond your first idea.  Imagine scenarios that one would never expect your characters to be in.  For example, on Mike and Mike we did the “Top Ten things you never thought you’d hear Beano Cook say.” Most would have written something like, “I actually hate Notre Dame,” but that’s too obvious.  I pushed towards the dark and bizarre, in this case having the late, bubbly college expert recite a Simon and Garfunkel lyric “hello darkness my old friend.”  What, you don’t think that’s funny?  Imagine it now in Beano’s voice.
  4. Cut it in half: That’s what Mike Greenberg of Mike and Mike in the Morning made me do with each bit I wrote for the show, and he was right.  Cutting it in half forces you to pick the best of the best and it gets rid of what is only marginally funny.  Plus, and this is important, it keeps a bit from dragging on too long.
  5. Play it for people you trust before it hits the air. Someone who will give you an honest opinion. If they don’t laugh, it’s time to either work on it more or throw it away.
  6. Do not be afraid to throw it away.
  7. Consider that maybe the conversation about the bit is better for air than the actual bit.
If you follow these rules, I think you’ll have a better chance of making bad bits better and good bits great.  But again, don’t be afraid to throw the damn thing away because, like I said earlier, there is almost nothing worse than a bad bit.
The Carolina Panthers Cheerleaders in their natural habitat

A quick aside … my favorite line from one of our bits on Ye Olde Dan Patrick Show was written by Showkiller Phil for our Wheaties, or “Cheaties” steroids bit.  Phil’s line … “it’s the cereal that comes with tiny nuts.”

That line is quality.

One final thought … I realize that I’m not an expert on what’s funny and what’s not funny, just ask ESPN NY’s Justin Craig (poor guy had to shoot down some terrible ideas of mine without hurting my feelings.)  I’m simply a guy who’s written and produced some funny, and some not so funny bits, so take my POV for what it’s worth.

With that said…

I’ve shared this before, but here’s an example of pushing the absurd.  In this case, Dan Patrick responds to a Canadian named Gino who lives in Edmonton and had written us an e-mail in which it was clear that he felt DP had no business talking about our neighbor to the north.  I give you Dan Patrick Knows Canada.