Andy Williams will tell you, the secret to good comedy is all in comedy timing. As a matter of fact, this is such an oft-repeated rule that it has become a cliché, and even those people not inclined to being particularly funny understand this! Any wannabe comedian — as well as any regular Joe Bloggs who has ever wanted to be seen as “the cool guy” at a party — has wondered whether great comedy timing is something that can be learned or just something that one already has.
Never listen to anybody who makes the claim that comedy timing is something you either have or don’t— they don’t know their own you-know-what from a hole in the ground. I would imagine that they have also been in the situation where no one laughs.
As with anything in life, even amazing timing in comedy is a skill that can be taught and even perfected with the right mix of determination and practice. For anyone who harbors ambitions of being a stand up comic, this is the perfect subject to learn about a lot more. In essence, the timing in comedy is when to say your joke, which is in contrast to delivery in comedy, which is how to say your joke.
One way to define comedy is basically the disruption of a simple train of thought. Another similar way of looking at this is that comedy is nothing more than the instance of the disruption that is then marked by a tactical pause, no matter how subtle. If you incorporate the basic rules of comedy timing into your monologue or conversation, you should see results, as people will increasingly find you creatively funny, which is sort of ironic, actually.
Try to keep in mind these fundamental comedy rules that relate to the all-vital aspect of timing:
- Insert a pregnant pause right prior to the last word in your routine
- Increase the volume of your voice prior to a sentence’s end
- Deliver your punch line more in the form of a question, as opposed to a statement
- Quicken or slow down your tempo
- Alternate between shouting/whispering your line
If you follow these comedy timing tips, you are sure to provoke laughter in most anyone you talk to, even those people who hate you. Alright, that last part might be a teeny, tiny embellishment, but these tips will at least work in front of an audience that is friendly (or feels neutral toward you). In conclusion, you can well learn timing in comedy, and you should perfect this to be a great comic.