In Part I we discussed the actual delivery method used for the punch line. Now let's see how to pick the correct person in the audience. Remember to deliver to one person and one person only.
The person to whom you deliver the punch line is NOT randomly chosen. I deliver punch lines to a person I know is going to laugh. How do I know? I pay attention. That's how I know. It all starts with my pre-program research. If I have spoken to any of the audience members and they were laughing with me on the phone, I'll seek them out before the program so I know where they are sitting. That way I can look directly at them during the program. Before the program starts, I mingle with the participants, not only to meet them, but to see who is and who is not "in fun"(mingling with them helps to put them in fun). In addition, I watch the audience when the emcee or program coordinator is talking. This gives me a mental note of the people who are not only having fun, but also paying close attention tothe person speaking. Don't be fooled by an audience who appears to be having great fun. It could very likely have been induced by alcohol at their social hour. They may be oblivious to what's happening on-stage.
After you have begun your presentation, another way to tell who to deliver to is by closely watching the audience. Some audience members who are really in tune with what you are saying will nod their head gently in approval. You should have great success delivering to these people.
There are two reasons for delivering your punch line to someone you know will laugh. The most important is that you want that person to be a good example for the rest of the audience. If you direct a punch line or comment to a person in the audience, the other members of the audience will naturally look in that direction. If they see someone laughing, there is a high probability they will laugh too. If you deliver your line to some sour puss that hasn't laughed for 20 years, the rest of the audience will see an example of someone NOT laughing and they will be negatively influenced. A 1976 study by Antony Chapman and D. S. Wright supports the notion that the lack of laughter or inappropriate laughter (the kind of laughter you would get if you pick on someone or some group inappropriately and they laugh to save face) are inhibitors of laughter.
The second reason for delivering your punch line to someone you know will laugh has to do with confidence. There is little chance that you will get old sour puss to laugh nomatter what you do. If you kill yourself trying and fail, as you probably will, it will knock your confidence level and affect the rest of your performance. Combine this with the fact that you will be ignoring the rest of the audience, who will be watching this person not laugh, and you'll be quickly swinging in the wind. Deliver to the ones that appreciate you!