Day 5: Moses Storm

I’m sharing stand up comedy sets that I like every day in May and breaking down what I think makes them solid. I’ve always been attracted to well constructed jokes, but what happens when you combine them with stellar acting? Well, you get one of the most watched stand up clips in the history of Conan. With over 2 million YouTube views, here’s Moses Storm’s 2017 debut appearance and some of the reasons I think it stands out:

• THEATRICALITY. Anyone watching Moses delve in and out of characters can tell he’s a great actor, but he plays to this strength by making some unique choices that lend the set a theatrical quality. Unlike most comics on the show, he doesn’t use a microphone so that he can freely gesture with both hands. He also makes use of multiple axes: pacing left and right, moving back and forth, and (most distinctly) turning himself 180 degrees and then whipping his head back into view. The result is an arresting performance.

• PERSONIFICATION. Sometimes a comic gets us laughing by taking an observation we’ve vaguely had in our periphery and bringing it dramatically to the fore. Giving voice to an inanimate object is a great way to bring us that new focus. Moses does this with an avocado. He also injects it with an abundance of personality so we can’t easily forget this newly personified fruit.

• REVERSALS. When Moses mentions the bucket of ice cream and the bananas, he constructs jokes that reveal the reverse of the way things are supposed to be. When you add to a bucket, it’s value is supposed to go up. When you get bananas, you’re supposed to pay. But Moses says the reverse is true. He flips what we expect, simultaneously highlighting how valueless the ice cream and bananas are and generating valuable laughter.

Hope you like it, and check out Moses on Instagram: @mosesstorm