Don't Forget To Rehearse Those Punchlines

By Sandy Franklin

Whenever someone speaks in front of a large audience they must engage cognitive faculties to both recall their presentation or jokes, and more importantly: quell their fears and anxieties from within. Often the larger the audience, the more substantial this sapping of energies by anxiety on cognition is. The real reason this is... is because a certain amount of cognitive energy that, in private, was used for the recalling of pre-written jokes is now being used to suppress your anxieties and prevent overexcitation and the fight or flight response.

There's only one legitimate answer for this rather disappointing fact and that is repeated rehearsal in one form or another. The more you repeatedly iterate through these things mentally the more you are able to figuratively burn something into your memory to the point that it eventually becomes seemingly as natural and almost mechanist in nature as driving your car. If you recall to the very first time you drove a car you will remember how challenging it was the very first time to perform even the most mundane tasks, but now that you have done it for years it feels almost as natural as breathing.

The less conscious, active energy you have to dump into delivering a script the greater your capacity to excel on stage while telling jokes to even very large, and difficult and even confrontational audiences. This can only occur after exhaustive, perhaps even painful rehearsal -- much like those first handful of rides in that car of yours.

However, often public speaking is not as fundamental to every day life as driving an automobile is. Most often it is a form of true self-actualization. Thus, it requires more determination on the part of the presenter, or comedian. A good litmus test for one's stage preparedness when delivering a presentation is whether they are able to maintain and keep eye contact with members of a smaller audience while delivering their jokes.

Try this smaller styled rehearsal with a small crowd (relatively speaking) of friends before doing stand up in front of a large audience in a comedy club. Do you have a habit of looking away when peforming the routine? If happens to be so, then you've probably not rehearsed your jokes enough times privately first. Find new ways to push your personal boundaries and run through your presentation and deliveries quickly. Drink coffee if necessary, find a peaceful, quiet place, and bring a tape recorder. Record yourself giving the presentation, and then try to race your own recording to recall your punchlines faster than you said them even in the audio recording.

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