Leave Them Wanting More…But Not Too Much!

by Brad Isaac on January 6, 2007

When I was a young whipper-snapper of a comic, a seasoned comedian named Todd Yohn, gave me some good advice.   “Brad, your material is good, you get a good response, but you go too long.   You need to leave the stage at a high point.   Leave the audience wanting more!”

I took his advice to heart.   In fact, one night I took it too far and it got me in a lot of trouble.   I was opening for a headliner – can’t remember who.   My first joke killed, the laugh break was something like 30 seconds, which for a new comic can be unnerving.   You are standing there, while an audience of 400 people is roaring at you.   30 seconds becomes an eternity.   What do you do?   Make a face?   Start slapping out my rendition of Hambone?

Todd’s advice was rolling over in my head that entire time.   I thought “there’s no other joke in my routine that will get this type of response.”

So I did the only thing that was logical.   I said “Thank you!   Good Night!”   And then began introducing the headliner.  

I could see him jump up from the back of the club.   He wasn’t pleased with me at all, because he was in the middle of eating some chicken wings and was running to the stage entrance giving me the wide armed signal to “stretch”.   FYI, Stretch means to extend your routine.

Problem is, I drew a blank right then and there.   “Stretch?”   I thought.   “I’m done.”   But I didn’t want to make the segway too clumsy so I started joking about the first thing that came to mind – the next comic.   “He’s late folks!always a bridesmaid but never a bride..”

Another FYI!Comics hate that!

No sooner had I walked off stage when one of the waitresses walked up to me and said the manager wanted to see me in the office.

I got quite a tongue lashing for leaving the stage after only one joke.   “Nobody leaves the stage after 1 joke!”   he steamed.   I couldn’t help but think, “If Prince could leave after one song in the movie Purple Rain, then why can’t I leave after one joke?”   But I thought better than to say it out loud.

But what I learned was that leaving people wanting more is a delicate line.   First, you must provide the service you promised.   That night, I hadn’t provided the service.   People were there to see 3 comics and 3 separate shows.   Not two comics and one great joke.   So my mistake wasn’t that I left them wanting more, I left them without providing the service.

For example, if you write a book on balancing your home budget, then make sure the reader gets all the information they need to balance their budget.   But sprinkling in unanswered questions such as creating a supplemental income (book #2) leaves them wanting more.

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cloudrider January 7, 2007 at 9:59 pm

That’s very funny – I can’t believe you left after one joke! You were pretty gutsy. Now, I’m curious to hear that joke – any plans on posting that?

Brad Isaac January 11, 2007 at 12:21 pm

I might have to pull out some old videos and get them digitized to post on You Tube or something. ;)

January 20, 2007 at 11:47 am

Cloudrider – that’s the point, the article makes you want to find out what the joke was, so you’d come back for more ;)

October 25, 2008 at 2:23 am

That was a pretty good story. That would be funny to leave after 1 joke. Everyone including the audience was probably like is this guy for real or is he just messing with us.

October 25, 2008 at 7:33 pm

I wonder if they still paid you. Everyone probably thought you were joking.

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