Anti-Jokes: How to Recover When A Joke Doesn’t Hit

Recovering using Anti-Jokes

anti-joke - recovering when a joke doesn't hit

I first discussed the idea of anti-jokes in Lesson Learned #4 of the Groove Bar experience. I saw professional comedians getting great laughs by making fun of the fact that their jokes DIDN’T hit.

Anti Jokes (or Anti Humor) is a type of comedy in which the uses is set up to expect a typical joke setup however the joke ends with such anticlimax that it becomes funny in its own right. The lack of punchline is the punchline. –

‘Now that’s power’ I thought. If I can keep the laughter going, even when people don’t find something funny, I can still have a good set.

An Example: Canadian Legend Mike Wilmot

Joke: 2:20 – 3:10 | Anti-joke: 3:11 – 4:21

Was I laughing at the end of the bear joke? Nope. But I was at the end of the Michael Jackson conclusion (3:56-4:20).

My first foray Into Anti-joking

I have a line that goes, ‘So I gotta work out…you guys know Extreme Fitness?’ Usually, a few people in the audience will say yes and lament their disapproval of said gym. This time, however, I got ZERO response. Neon Pencils (yikes)! This is how I continued:

 It’s not anything spectacular, I know, but what the anti-joking device did in this case was to fill the vacuum with laughter, allowing me to proceed to my next point.

Lesson Learned: Awareness / Opportunities for Audience Interaction = Good to Great

using awareness to weave the audience into the comedy set

I’ve continuously been searching for the ingredients that make up a KILLER five-minute set. Great jokes? Yes. Timing? Yes. Audience Engagement? Yes. Comfort on stage? Yes. Confidence? Yes.

But I think I’ve been artificially constraining this challenge. I’ve been looking at killing in terms of what I need to do independently from an audience.

Instead, the answer might lie in what I need to do WITH an audience. The audience themselves are, in fact, another ingredient in the creation of a killer set. I’ll work with the audience by:

  • Becoming more comfortable on stage
  • Heightening my AWARENESS on stage in the Buddhist-sense of the word
  • Injecting rhetoric and other audience-interaction devices into my premises/punchlines/tags

In other words, I’ll be able to joke with an audience whilst I traverse my material. It’s that, ‘shared experience‘ that audiences really respond to.

(Stolenowners rock, but should stick to r…I’ve said too much.)

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, bitches,

Michael Jagdeo


About Michael Jagdeo

My name's Michael Jagdeo, and I refuse to write about myself in the third person. I'm a Comedian from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In addition to honing my stand-up comedy act, I maintain this blog and write the weekly comedy article for
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