Day 9: Joe List

Every day in May, I’m passing along one stand up set I really like. In honor of performing back in my home state today, I’m sharing a set from a fellow Massachusetts native. Here’s Joe List in 2017 and a few of the reasons I think it’s great:

• QUESTIONS. Joe speaks in questions throughout the set. Not only do they continually get me laughing, they allow Joe get to the punchline quick. Questions are naturally faster sentences because they don’t demand verbs (e.g., “How about a visit from a lawyer?” and “What about my pubic hair?”) or otherwise necessary articles of speech. In addition, Joe’s questions often end in an object, so he deftly places the funniest part of a line at the end of the sentence (e.g., “Will you be removing any of my teeth?” and “Is this is a hospital or a frat house?”). This construction lets a punchline have the biggest pop without being muddled by words afterwards.

• STORIES. Early speech wasn’t used for abstract ideas. It was used to describe action. In other words, our brains are hardwired to hear stories. Joe relays two main stories in this set. He doesn’t rely on them to get laughs, instead injecting jokes wherever there’s space, utilizing Repetition and Callbacks in really funny ways. But the stories give the set a compelling through line that further help keep me engaged.

• THEORETICAL ACT OUTS. Joe has some funny theories about surgeons. Maybe they’re bored or maybe they’re vengeful. Either way, Joe extends my laughter when he pretends to bring these theories to life. For example, he could have just stated his theory that surgeons are bored, gotten that laugh, and moved on. But since it’s a theory, we don’t know what it would have looked like. By acting it out, Joe is able to create dialogue that rapidly turns one punchline into many and gets me to see the really funny, theoretical world that exists in his mind.

Hope you liked it. Full link in comments. For more Joe, follow him on Instagram: @joelistcomedy