Glossary of Comedy Terminology

A - Z


Some fun Comedy Terminology which is used in the industry all over the world by agents and comedians

Any that are missing or if you can think of ones begining with Q or Z, then let me know.




Ad-Lib - to make up a joke within a scripted show.

Agent - The one you should worship and adore, these guys make you money

- well the good ones

Alternative Possibilities - a list of meanings or functions of the connector

that are not the same as that of the decoy assumption,

one of which will become a reinterpretation.

Assumption - 1.) the audience's expectation that the 1st story will

continue along the predicted line of thought.

2.) everything one is not experiencing with one's senses in the present.




 Badgers & Jam - Refers to comics who garner laughs from

the surprise inclusion of ‘random’ objects and animals in their set.

Beat - a pause; to take a break for the purposes of comic timing.

Behavioral Jokes - jokes constructed with the nonverbal connectors of character,

emotions/state of mind, body language/actions,

and sound effects.

Bit - a section of a stand-up comedy show or routine, also a short routine

or a section of a routine.

Blue Material - jokes using graphic sexual overtones, scatological (toilet)

references, and swear words.

Bomb(see also die) - to perform a comedy show which gets no or few laughs.

Booker - a person who hires and/or pays comedians to work in nightclubs.




Callback - a joke that refers back to another joke performed

earlier in the show; often presented in a different context.

Capper - an antiquated term for the final in a series of jokes on the same

subject matter which ends the routine with the biggest laugh.

Catch Phrase - a common phrase said in a extraordinary manner which

becomes the trade make of a particular comedian.

For instance Steve Martin's "Excuse me." or Billy Crystal's "You look marvelous."

Character POV - the perceptual position achieved when pretending to

be someone or something else.

Closing Line - the final joke of a stand-up comedy show which

should get a huge laugh.

Comedian - someone who makes his or her living being funny by means

of an amusing character.

Comic - someone who makes his or her living being funny

by telling jokes.

Connector - at the center of a joke, the one thing perceived in at least two ways.

One way of perceiving it constitutes the decoy assumption;

the second way of perceiving it reveals the reinterpretation.

Critic Spot - a location designated for evaluating one's show; separate

from the Rehearsal Space.

Corporates - Very well paid private events, but sometimes bizarre

Cotton mouth - A peculiar symptom of a bad gig where a comic

will start to lose all moisture in their throat and therefore the reason

why most comics take a drink on stage…unless they are simply

rampant alcoholics.




Decoy - a shorter term for decoy assumption.

Decoy Assumption - the misdirecting assumption in a joke's setup which creates

the 1st story and is shattered

by the reinterpretation.

Double up - Doing two gigs in one night

Die - A comedy gig get no laughs that night.

note: if death is particularly bad,it may be described as "Dying

on your arse" (On your hole in Ireland)

Dying Continuiously - Perhaps its time for a career change






Flop Sweat - the over abundance of perspiration one experiences from a panic

reaction to bombing.

Flopping - bombing; not getting laughs.




Gag File - a joke file.

Gag - a joke.

Gig - a show business job.

Graphing - a scaling device with dots on paper for evaluating the

effectiveness ofjokes to determine

their proper placement within a routine or show.

Green Room - Any area where comedians are expected to prepare for a show.

This can range from custom built flats with showers and satellite

TV to toilet cubicles and, sometimes, smackhead’s bedrooms.




Hack - from the British word hack-neyed. Over used and thus

cheapened, trite.

Hammocking - a technique for placing weaker material or improvisation

between two strong comedy bits.

Headliner - the third and last comedian considered the star of a standard

stand-up comedy show.

Heckler - an audience member who talks and interrupts a show,

usually by exchanging insults with the comedian.




Impressionists - Comedians who do immitations of other people

for the majority of their act.

Improvisation - akin to ad-lib, but usually refers to the spontaneous making

up an entire bit or the continual comedic conversing with audience members.

Improvisationalists - Comedians who spontaneously make up the majority of their

act on stage or do continual comedic conversing with audience members.

Inside Joke - a joke referring to information only a select group of people have.



Jesus Pose - Refers to the double outstretched arms comics will often

adopt having highlighted some injustice or folly, usually to indicate

 the all important ‘What’s all that about?’ Can also include a step back

from the mike for additional emphasis.

Joke - a device for expressing humor that employs a setup which contains a

decoy assumption to misdirect the audience into accepting a bogus 1st story;

and a punch which contains a reinterpretation which

creates a 2nd story that shatters the decoy assumption.

Joke Diagram - a visual aid for illustrating the structure of a joke.

Joke File - jokes organized and stored on index cards or in a computer.

Joke Map - the first part of the Joke Prospector Writing System starts with a topic,

creates a punch-premise, forms asetup-premise,

and concludes with writing setups.

Joke Mine - the second part of the Joke Prospector Writing System

begins with a setup and explains the process of using the joke mechanisms

of decoy assumption, connector, and reinterpretation, to write a punch.

Joke Prospector Writing System - a joke writing system consisting of the two

part of the Joke Map and the Joke Mine.

Jokey - 1. a term used to describe such obvious jokes that one would expect to

hear a rim shot following them.

2. a comic's groupie.




Kill, to - to give an excellent comedy performance.

Also known as "rock","slay","storm"

Kermit - A comedian either sitting on the edge of the stage or on a stool.




Laughs Per Minute - a measurement for counting the number of laughs in a show.

Also known as Gags per minute or GPM

Line-Up - a list of the comics slated to perform.

LPM - laughs per minute.




M.C. - Master or Mistress of Ceremonies; the person who introduces

the performers.

Middle - the second comedian in the standard three comedian stand-up c

omedy show line-up.

Mic or Mike - abbreviation for microphone.

Milkshake Brigade - A term to refer to the growing band of newer, and

some established comics, quitting the booze and enjoying more innocent pleasures.

Monologue - a speech for one person; in comedy, a stand-up comedy script

for a solo comedian.

Mirth - Another word for laughter




Narrator POV - the perceptual position achieved when being an observer or

non-participant of an experience.

Neuro-linguistic Programming - a behavioral model and set of explicit skills

and techniques founded by John Grinder and Richard Bandler.

Defined as the study and mapping of the structure of the mind.

NLP - Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a behavioral model and

set of explicit skills and techniques founded

by John Grinder and Richard Bandler. Defined as the study and mapping

of the structure of the mind.




Observational Comics - Comics whose material is based on various life obvervations.

On The Road - continually working outside of one's city of residence.

One-Liner - a joke made up of only one or two sentences.

One-Nighter - a job which only lasts one night.

Open-Mike - a policy to allow anyone to get on stage and try to be funny.

Opener - the first of three comedians in a standard comedy club line-up.

Opening Line - the first joke of a stand-up comedy routine.

Open Spot - A chance to try your material in a view to securing bookings for the future

Over-running - The situation where a comedian exceeds their time slot by a margin which

is likely to impact on the rest of the night. Two minutes can be forgiven, five minutes

 is on the unprofessional side…ten minutes or more is

basically worse than touching kids.




Pause - to stop talking in a show to enhance the timing of a joke.

Padding - A technique used by comperes who have to take to the stage upon an assurance

that the next act who is running late is now ‘Literally in the car park’.

Will often result in lots of people being asked what they ‘do for a living’.

POV - point of view.

Premise - the central concept from which a series of jokes or a routine is written.

Prop Comics - Comedians who use props throughout the majority of their act.

Punch - the second part of a joke that contains a reinterpretation that c

reates a 2nd story that shatters the setup's decoy assumption.

Punch Line - the second part of a joke that contains a

reinterpretation that creates a 2nd story that shatters

the setup's decoy assumption.

Punch-Premise - a step in the Joke Map stating a negative opinion about

a smaller aspect of the topic.

Physical Comics - Comedians who use physical movements

(slapstick) throughout their act.

Preview - A chance to showcase a solo show






Regulars - comedians who appears frequently at a particular nightclub.

Rehearsal Space - a location designated for practicing one's show; separate from the Critic Spot.

Reinterpretation - an unexpected meaning or function of the

connector that shatters the decoy assumption.

Red Light - Any light which indicates to a comic that they are coming towards the

end of their time slot. Some red lights are expertly built in to

the lighting rig at an angle which is impossible for the audience to detect.

Most red lights are the sound man aiming one of those laser key ring things

in your eye until you give him a relevant hand signal.

Reveal - within the punch, the pivotal word, phrase, or action that

exposes or presents the 2nd story's reinterpretation.

Riffing - verbally bantering with the audience.

Rip Into or Ripping - to attack, insult, or verbally tear into an audience member

or comic who has heckled or otherwise deserves the abuse.

Roll, On a - delivering a string of jokes so that the audience continues laughing

for an extended period without interruption.

Routine - jokes all on the same subject or story that can be repeated

on a regular basis.

Running Gag - multiple callbacks; a recurring joke within the same show.




Schtick - a Yiddish word meaning a comic scene or piece of business;

often implying physical comedy.

Segue - a transitional sentence for purposes of leading from

one joke or routine to another.

Self POV - the perceptual position achieved when performing as one's self

while participating in an experience.

Set - a stand-up comedy show of any length.

Setup - the first part of a joke that contains a decoy assumption to misdirect

the audience into accepting a bogus 1st story.

Setup-Premise - a step in the Joke Map stating the opposite opinion to

that of the punch-premise from which setups are written.

Shatter - with reference to joke structure, the point at which the

audience realized that their assumption is incorrect.

Showcase - to perform a stand-up comedy show for little or no compensation

for the purposes of getting experience or being seen by a potential employer.

Showcase Club - a comedy club using a line-up of ten or

more comics in a row.

Shoe horn - Contrived inclusion of a joke into a passage it had no

natural place in. Exp. ‘…It’s funny that you used to work as a

teacher because I drove past a school the other day

on the way to LIDL…LIDL EH? What’s all that about?...’

Sight Gag - a physical joke meant to be watched.

Stage Time - the duration, in minutes, a comedian spends in

front of an audience making them laugh.




Tag or Tag Line - an additional punch immediately following

a punch that does not require a new setup.

Take - a comedic facial reaction. Like the long

Jack Benny take to the audience.

Throw Away - to put little emphasis on a point usually considered important.

time slot the specific spot a comedian occupies

within a showcase club line-up.

Time Slot - the specific spot a comedian occupies within a showcase club line-up.

Timing - the use of tempo, rhythm, pause, etc. to enhance a joke,

or tailor it to an individual performing situation;

African Dancing and Drumming.

Topic - the single and overall subject of a routine based on a problem.

Topical Comics - Comedians whose material is based on current events.

Topical Jokes - about current events.

Topper - an antiquated term referring to a joke playing off a previous

joke; same as tag.

Triple up - Can be done, three gigs in one night - ask my acts

Treble up - Adventurous even by my standards