Most jokes are designed to end with a humorous climactic
word or phrase. Here's an example from Larry Wilde's book
"Library of Laughter:"
I can't understand why you failed in business.
Too much advertising.
You never spent a cent in your life on advertising.
That's true, but my competitor did.
Everything in the joke up to the comma after "That's true"
is the setup of the joke. "But my competitor did" is the
punch line. The punch line gets its name from the delivery
technique used. You must punch the line out a little harder
and with a slightly different voice than the rest of the
joke. Lean into the microphone and say it louder and more
clearly than you said the setup lines. If the audience does
not hear the punch line, they are not going to laugh.
Just before the punch line you should pause slightly (to
emphasize and draw special attention to the line. After you
deliver the line, don't utter another sound. Give the
audience a chance to laugh. Words or phrases appended to the
climax tend to delay or impede laughter. Until you get some
experience, it is really tough to wait. Beginners tend to be
afraid that no laughter will come, so they keep going. If
you keep talking during this period, you will easily squelch
the laughter. As your confidence builds, pausing will become
easier and easier. Sometimes waiting the audience out will
actually give them a cue to laugh even if the joke wasn't
When you deliver your punch line, deliver it to one person
and one person only. It doesn't matter how large the crowd
is, you can look one person right in the eye and deliver
your line. Learn to use humor effectively with my Ultimate
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