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Greg Dean's Stand Up Comedy Terms and Phrases

Greg Dean’s stand up comedy terms and phrases is a glossary of relevant industry nomenclature. jargon, lingo, and colloquialisms. It’s open ended as there are more terms which need defining and documenting and new ones yet to be created. If you have a suggestion, feel free to email it to us with the definition. Entries will be considered and included as appropriate. If included, it may be attributed to you as the person who submitted the word or phrase.


1st Story

(1) The scene imagined in audience's minds based upon receiving a joke's Setup. (2) One of the five joke structure mechanisms that connect Setup and Punchline. See Joke Prospector Writing System, joke writing, and joke structure.

2nd Story

(1) The scene imagined in audience's minds based upon receiving a joke's Punchline. (2) One of the five joke structure mechanisms that connect Setup and Punchline. "When I hear a comedian say a punchline, I imagine a scene or 2nd Story so it makes sense to me. See joke structure, Joke Prospector Writing System, and joke writing.

3 POVs

In Greg Dean’s model of the three performance roles, points of view (POVs), used in stand-up comedy storytelling: Narrator POV, Self POV, and Character POV. "When I tell a funny story, I start it from Narrator POV to set up the circumstances of the scene, then when I act out that scene I use Self and Character POVs, so I use all 3 POVs." See Anatomy of Funny Storytelling. storytelling, storytelling with scenes, and storytelling joke structure.

3-5 and 10

Three most common lengths of routines or shows, in minutes, which comedians need to have prepared and ready to perform upon request. "I almost have enough material to build 3-5 and 10 minutes routines." See routines.

4 Cs

Abbreviation for Clubs, Colleges, Cruise ships, and Corporations which are the four venues where stand-up comedians can get work. "Of the 4 Cs, the clubs is where you'll get your first work." See gigs.

4th wall

(1) Convention that imagines a wall existing between performers and their audience. (2) As related to stand-up comedy, when comedians enact a scene, Self POVs and Character POVs live in that environment unaware there's an audience. "When you're watching a scene that takes place in a room, the 4th wall of it is taken off so the audience can watch the action unfold." See scene work and Anatomy of Funny Storytelling.

5 joke mechanisms

In Greg Dean's model of joke structure, there are 5 mechanisms which connect the Setup and Punchline: 1st Story, Target Assumption, Connector, Reinterpretation, and 2nd Story. "I never realized jokes were connected by 5 joke mechanisms, but they sure do explain how jokes work." See Greg Dean's Joke Structure and joke structure.

5 LPMs

Abbreviation for Laughs Per Minute. 5 or more laughs per minute is the professional standard for stand-up comedy shows. "A great stand up comedy routine should get at least 5 LPMs." See routines and laughs per minute.

A material

In the ABCs of comedy material rating system, A is the funniest jokes in routines or funniest routines in shows. "I'll start my show with my B material, do some crowd work, then end with my A material." See ABCs and BCAs.


Rating systems that gives values to jokes within routines, or routines within shows with A being the best. "I've recorded my several show and now I'm going to rate every joke using the ABCs system." See A material, B material, and C material.

act out

(1) Scene work in a stand-up comedy routine. (2) A scene within stand-up comedy routines where the comedian portrays all the roles of Narrator POV, Self POV, and Character POV. See scene work. and Anatomy of Funny Storytelling. (Act out coined by Judy Carter.)


Spontaneously stating jokes within a scripted routine or show. "I give myself permission to ad-lib anytime during my show if I think of something funny." See improv.

age out

Point at which older comedians cannot get work because the younger generation of audiences don’t attend their shows, hence they age out. See bitters.

alternative interpretation

(1) A different way of explaining something. (2) As related to Greg Dean's Joke Prospector Writing System, it is an un-expected, yet compatible meaning of a Connector, other than the Target Assumption or the expected meaning. "What creates surprise in a joke is when the punchline is expressing a very unexpected alternative interpretation." See Connector, Reinterpretation, Target Assumption, Greg Dean's Joke Structure, and joke structure.

alternative interpretations

As related to Greg Dean's Joke Prospector Writing System, a list of un-expected meanings of a Connector, different from the expected meaning of the Target Assumption, one of which will become a joke’s Reinterpretation. See Joke Mine.


(1) Anything open to more than one interpretation. (2) In joke structure, an ambiguity, usually in setups, is anything that can have more than one meaning or interpretation, which becomes the mechanism, the Connector, when used to write a joke. See Connector and joke structure.

Anatomy of Funny Storytelling

Greg Dean’s model of the three performance roles, points of view (POVs), used in stand-up comedy storytelling: Narrator POV, Self POV, and Character POV. When performing, comedians are always in at least one of these POVs. "If you want to understand joke structure when telling stories, read Anatomy of Funny Storytelling." See Character POV, Narrator POV, Self POV, and storytelling joke structure.


In a crowded venue when only one person makes a single clap, then stops. (Term coined by Michael Davis Juggler.) "If only one person claps, is that an applau?" See applause and applause break.

applause break

When an audience spontaneously claps in approval for a joke or routine during a show. "In last night's show, I got an applause break at least five times." See applau.


Belief that something exists or is true without proof or evidence. "An assumption by its very nature is a guess therefore it's not real." See Greg Dean's joke structure.


Based on a piece of communication, Setup or Punchline, the mental means in which people compile information to fill in ambiguous or incomplete information to build a scenario in their minds until they believe they know what that piece of communication means. See 1st Story, 2nd Story.


(1) a fixed way of thinking or feeling about someone or something. (2) As related to the stand up comedy, the expression of only one negative emotion, opinion, or judgment repeatedly used toward every subject in jokes and routines. "The character of Steven Wright has a funny attitude toward all of his jokes." See comic voice.

availability dates

Calendar sent to bookers to indicate when the comedian can accept comedy gigs. "I send my availability dates to the booker of the comedy club." See avails.


Abbreviation for availability dates which is a calendar sent to bookers to indicate when the days and weeks a comedian can accept comedy gigs. "The club booker asked me to send my avails" See availability dates.

B material

In the ABCs of comedy material rating system, B is the second-best jokes in a routine, or second-best routines within a show. "For tonight's show I'm going to work on my B material to find more tags." See ABCs and BCAs.


The most effective order for placing jokes within routines or routines within a shows. i.e. “B” material first, “C” material in the middle, and “A” material to close the routine or show. "My show is funnier at the beginning that it is at the end, so I'm going to order it differently using the BCAs system so I'll end with my best jokes." See ABCs.


A section of stand-up comedy routines or shows or a short routine. "I've decided to take out the After School bit because it slows down my show." See routine.


Angry resentful state of mind some comedians get when they've had a long career, but never made it into the big time who feel overlooked and uncredited for their contribution to comedy history. "Since he retired from comedy, Joey has developed a bad case of the bitters."

blank, going

While performing when comedians forget their jokes and feel as if they have forgotten everything they've even known, hence going blank. See flop sweat and rehearsal process.

blue material

Jokes, routines, or shows using graphic sexual, scatological, and swear words; not appropriate for network television. "A comedian, Max Miller, did clean jokes from his white notebook and risqué jokes from is blue notebook and that's origin of the term blue material." See dirty jokes and double entendre.


To perform comedy shows that get few or no laughs. "At the open mic I didn't just bomb, I left a crater." See die, dog it, crickets, eat it, flop, suck, tank…


Hired for a comedy gig or job. "I'm so excited, I just booked my first paid stand-up comedy gig." See PA representation.


Person who hires and pays comedians to work. "The club booker hired me to be the opener and MC for a weekend gig." See PA representation and representation.


(1) The act of hiring comedians for shows. (2) The jobs comedians have booked. "This weekend I have my first booking of the year." See booker, PA representation, and representation.


Rooms or comedy clubs that require comedians to bring audience members to get stage time. "I did my first bringer show and my friends left before I got on stage at 2 a.m. These shows should come with a warning."

bringer room

Stand up comedy venues that require comedians to bring audience members to get stage time. "I got five of my friends to show up for tonight's bringer room." See bringer.

bringer show

Stand-up comedy shows where the comedians must bring audience members to get stage time. "For the bringer show I had to bring five paying customers to get 5 minutes on stage." See bringer.


Comedian being pushed to later time slot within the shows lineup, often by known comedians asking for unscheduled stage time. "As a non paid regular, when any famous comedians drops in, I'm the first to get bumped." See drop in.

C material

In the ABCs of comedy material rating system, C is the weakest jokes in routines, or weakest routines within a shows. "I like to place my C material between stronger jokes so they don't slow down my show." See ABCs and BCAs.

call-in a show

When comedians gives the minimum effort to a performance. "He could have at least given more of an effort rather than just call-in his show." See phone in.


Repeating the punchline from a previously performed joke earlier in the routine. "She did a great callback with the different uses of a bottlecap." See running gag.


Antiquated term for the final joke in routines and shows to end with the biggest laugh. "It was very clever how he got such a bit laugh with that capper." See closing joke and tag.


Common phrase repeatedly delivered with unusual or extraordinary emphasis that becomes a comedian's verbal trademark. "'I don't get no respect.' was Rodney Dangerfield's catchphrase."

Character POV

One of three perceptual position or roles within Greg Dean's Anatomy of Funny Storytelling achieved when comedians act out scenes and portray someone or something else. "That Character POV was spot on because he found that person's mindset." See act out, Anatomy of Funny Storytelling, Narrator POV, Self POV, and scene work.


Description of comedians with a great deal of experience with handles difficult audience situations with easy. "After shutting down that heckler I realized this guy has chops." See stage time.


Joke designed to get an audience to applaud and agree, rather than laugh. The term is most often used in a negative sense. "Notice he didn't get a laugh with what he said, instead he got agreement with a round of clapter." (Submitted by Scott Meltzer.)

clean material

The jokes in stand-up comedy shows with no curse words or inappropriate subjects that is suitable for network television programs. "Elen got on all the late night talk shows because she did clean material." See blue material.


(1) Comedians with shows strong enough to top the evening’s previous comedians. (2) A comedian’s final joke or routine. "It took Anthony more than a decade of performing to be a closer." See closing line.

closing line

Final joke of stand-up comedy shows designed to get a huge laugh while the comedian exits the stage. "Josh always uses the same joke as his closing line." See closer.


Quick reply with an insult joke to address a critical remark or heckle to put the person down. "Did you hear Dan handle that heckler after he said, 'If that big belly was on a woman she'd be pregnant.' and his comeback was, 'It was. And she is.'" See heckler lines, put down, or shut down.


(1) Someone who seeks to entertain people by making them laugh. (2) Someone who uses a character to get laughs. An old saying: "A comic says funny things. A comedian says things funny." See comic.

comedian’s comedian

Comedians other comedians most admire or emulate. "George Carlin was indeed the comedian's comedian." See comic's comic.


Female comedian. "Most comedians don't know that Jean Carroll was the first modern day comedienne." Check her out on Youtube. See comedian and comic.

comedy timing

Tempo, rhythm, and emphasis of material and response in a feedback loop that develops between comedians and their audiences during a performance. "There's no one who had better comedy timing than Jerry." See comic timing and timing.


(1) Someone who seeks to entertain people by making them laugh. (2) Someone who uses jokes to get laughs. An old saying: "A comic say funny things. A comedians say things funny." See comedian and comedienne.

comic timing

Tempo, rhythm, and emphasis of material and response in a feedback loop that develops between comedians and their audiences during a performance. "Robin had the fastest comic timing of anyone." See comedy timing and timing.

comic’s clichés

Phrases and physical idiosyncrasies so common and overused which betray a lack of original thought used by all hack comics. i.e. Greeting: "How you all doing tonight?" "I listened to a B level comic and he had five comic's cliches in the two minutes." See hack.

comic’s comic

Comics other comics most admire and emulate. "Stephen Wright is definitely a comic's comic." See comic and comedian.

common knowledge

(1) Information generally shared by most people. (2) information available within an immediate environment. (3) As related to stand-up comedy, the information within jokes the audience must be familiar to get the jokes. "Sometimes a joke setup is already in the audience's minds as common knowledge." See inside joke.


Pronounced [kom]+[pair] British term for Master or Mistress of Ceremonies, MC, and emcee. "In the pub Dog and Pony there was an open upstairs run by the compere." See Emcee, host, Master or Mistress of Ceremonies, and MC.

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