I’m breaking away from the normal “how to write stand-up comedy” blogs and decided to have some fun with this one. This article will look at the affects alcohol has on writing stand-up comedy.
Ever felt like you write better if you have a d
rink first? You’re not alone. In fact, creativity researchers have studied alcohol’s affects in depth and found that a tiny bit of alcohol can actually make you more creative. But, as you would expect, it’s only up to a point. After that point, your ability to think clearly goes downhill FAST. Researchers have also identified that there are times when alcohol helps creativity as well as gets in the way.
Alcohol helps to inhibit the part of the brain that constantly “checks” to see how we’re doing when we’re being creative. The upside to this can often be breaking through writer’s block. Writer’s block in stand-up comedy is most often causes by a comedian’s perpetual need to both “create” and “constantly check” their material. Interestingly, these two processes are the exact opposite to your brain. When you do one it’s impossible to do the other, so writer’s block occurs. You’ve basically told your brain to both “stop” and “go” at the same time. Since it’s impossible, the brain gets into gridlock. When comedians stop scrutinizing the quality of material as they’re writing they often break through writer’s block easily. This is why our stand-up comedy course breaks writing into two separate phases: vertical writing and horizontal writing.
So how does this apply to stand-up comedians? If you’re the type of person that wants have a drink before you write then make sure it’s only one. After that the benefits of alcohol are outweighed by the consequences. Also, make sure you use alcohol at the appropriate time. Writing stand-up comedy requires a lot of mental skill. You have to write new material as well as evaluate the old material and fix it.
Alcohol, if it’s used at all, helps only with the generation of new material as well as it’s originality. Since a comedian is less likely to check your material against the “status quo,” they can often come up with more novel ideas. While the material may not be “up to par,” it will help you get words on the page. However, it does not help a comedian actually analyze any of their old material, as this requires very clear thinking ability. This means that it shouldn’t be used when you are revising your material.
So there’s the truth about alcohol and writing comedy. Here’s how you can use this information without drinking. By understanding the benefit of drinking alcohol, comedians can duplicate them in much healthier ways and still get the benefits. There are two great applications of this knowledge.
First, a comedian can increase their originality simply by not checking their material against other comedian’s jokes. This makes the stand-up comedian more original in the eye’s of the audience and helps the comedian create a fan base. Because the comedian is being more original, they are also going to perform in a different way from most other comedians, making them more memorable to audience members.
Second, a comedian can overcome writer’s block by simply concentrating on one part of the writing process (either “writing new material” or “analyzing old material”). A comedian can duplicate the affects of alcohol simply by not giving any weight to “analyzing” their material while they are writing it.