Summary: Do You Talk Funny? by David Nihill
Summary: Do You Talk Funny? by David Nihill

Summary: Do You Talk Funny? by David Nihill

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Start With A Story

  • Have a hero / protagonist.
  • Describe what your hero is up against.
  • Build in a specific transcending emotion.
  • Include a clear lesson or transformation.
  • Add twists and turns to the story.
  • Have a clear incident that makes the story really take off.
  • Know where you want to end up (the punch line) from the outset.
  • Quickly build in a hook.


Frame Your Story With 3-Act

  1. Setup
  2. Confrontation
  3. Resolution


Have Some Stakes

Stakes are essential in storytelling. Before you tell a story, think whether telling your story has any loss or gain.


Own Your Story So You Can Play With It

Your audience wants you to succeed. Watching you panic thinking of the next line is the last thing they want.


Comedy Writing Secrets (PAP)

  1. Preparation (situation setup)
  2. Anticipation (can often be achieved with just a timely pause)
  3. Punch line (pay off)


Know Your Punch Line

And work backwards from there to anticipation and preparation.


Always Write In Present

Write “I’m walking and I see” instead of “I was walking and I saw.” You want the audience to engage in the present moment.


Use Inherently Funny Words

Why Pop Tarts? Because Pop Tarts sound fun.

Words with “K” also sounds funny like Chicken.


Remember the Rule of 3

Here’s an example:

  1. Guys, sincere apologies. We’re in a conference on humor and maybe we went too far.
  2. Feeding you Mexican food, giving you free alcohol, and hiding the toilet paper.
  3. Not funny guys, not funny at all.


Brevity Is Levity

If it bores the audience and doesn’t serve your punch line, it has to go!


Rehearsed Spontaneity

Comedians practice 22 hours for every 1 minute of stage presence. Ironically, comedians practice a lot until they start sounding spontaneous.


When Faced With Stage Fright, Breathe & Remember 5P.

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Close your eyes and try and hear your own heart beat before you go on stage. Breathe and relax.

Stretching is also a great and widely used technique. Stretching sends out hormones to trigger a relaxation response in your body. Don’t hate stretching and yoga.



  1. Get on stage ‘fast’ when host introduces you.
  2. Smile and make eye contact with as many people as you can in the front rows.
  3. Speak loud enough to fill in the room.
  4. Try and get a quick laugh.
  5. Don’t forget to pause.


Mind Your Body

  1. Be fully visible. Don’t hide behind the podium. Instead hide your notes there.
  2. Don’t eat your microphone. Keep it a good distance away from your mouth and ideally below your chin.
  3. Speak instead of preach. Try your best to sound conversational.
  4. Mind your face. Your facial expression is incredibly important from moment you step on stage to the moment you walk off).
  5. Hands in the front. Make your hands highly visible. Practice with a bottle in each hand.


Close the Book

Comedians often use what’s known as Bookend Technique. This is where they reference opening jokes at the end of the sow. This gives their performance a feeling of completion and symmetry.


Finish Strong

Leave the best for the last. Your ending should be your highest rated joke.

Here is Steve Job’s favorite:

“And one more thing…”

At the end, say “Thank You.”

Nothing more. Nothing less. Just that.

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