The Parallels Between Content Creation and Stand-Up Comedy

By: Alex Macksoud

When I was a freshman in high school, I saw Louis C.K.’s stand-up special, Shameless, on the Internet. It was the first bit of stand-up I ever saw, and it was love at first sight.

I would go on to consume comedy the same way a bear consumes fish before a long hibernation. I marveled at the way comedians weaved complex jokes together, and effortlessly glided from one bit to the next. When I began my career in digital media, I found that there was quite a bit of overlap between the two professions – both are involved in the creation of content, after all.

Here are four tips from stand-up comedy that can help your company create a more effective content marketing strategy.

1. Develop Your Voice
Mitch Hedberg and Anthony Jeselnik are both very funny one-liner comedians, but each one delivered their jokes in a completely different way. Hedberg’s style consisted of monotone, nervously delivered, remarkably witty one-liners. Jeselnik tells his one-liners, through a more confident, cocky and edgy approach. These styles didn’t just appear out of thin air, however – both comedians looked and sounded completely different when they were just coming into the scene.

If you look at your company’s blog now compared to when it started, you may notice a huge difference in the tone and voice of content. As time goes on, you will eventually learn how to best tailor your content to the desires of your target audience, as Hedberg and Jeselnik did.

Once you find a style that works, staying consistent in your writing will help people better identify with your brand, and prompt loyal fans to become brand advocates by sharing your content and/or becoming a customer.

2. Use Audience Feedback
The more I watched stand-up, the more I realized comedians weren’t just making jokes up on the spot – months, even years of work went into making their sets as solid and funny as possible. Even the greats like Bill Burr and Jim Gaffigan regularly make surprise appearances at small comedy clubs so they can test their material to see what works and what doesn’t. This allows them to keep their material sharp and extract maximum laughs on big theater tours and specials.

When it comes to content creation, if you’re creating posts about cats when your audience is really interested in posts about dogs, you won’t find much success. Feedback from your audience – in the form of clicks, shares and engagements – can help inform what your content strategy looks like.

It’s important to take the time to analyze the performance of each post, and measure them against previously set benchmarks. Luckily, there are tons of free tools to help easily accomplish this – the biggest being Google Analytics for long-form blog content, and the native analytics provided by platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

3. Timing…is Everything
 Precision is everything when telling a well-crafted joke, lest it flop and lose the crowd. The mark of a great comedian is their ability to use timing to get the maximum amount of laughter out of an audience. Icons like Jerry Seinfeld test their jokes relentlessly in order to try out different methods of delivery to see how well the audience reacts to them.

Thankfully in the content marketing world – unlike stand-up comedy – you do not have to be born with great timing to excel. Paying attention to industry trends and seeing what’s going on in the social space could pay dividends for your content strategy.

For example, if a major study about your industry is released, you can create content providing your company’s perspective on the findings.

4. Make it Worthwhile
People love a good story, and comedians like Jim Breuer are experts at telling interesting and insanely funny stories that keep audiences engaged from start to finish. The content and delivery are carefully chosen by the comedian in order to provide the most entertaining product for their audience.

When creating content, too many companies – especially small businesses – put out dull, overused material and wonder why they’re not seeing a reaction from their audience. It just isn’t worthwhile for people to bother.

If executed the right way, any content topic can be made entertaining and/or interesting. It all comes down to knowing your audience, your message, and how to tell the audience your message in a way they best understand and respond to.

Looping in everything you learned above will ensure your content consistently kills (as it’s said in the comedy world) every time.