Less Would Have Been Better

Less Would Have Been Better



You give too much, less would have been better; but that lies in the nature of heaven-scaling youth, which never thinks it possible to do enough.

Know who said that?

You know the name for sure.

It’s today’s Quote of the Day, so go back to the Home page on my site and you’ll find out there.

I coach a lot of really talented people, and most are in differing stages of their careers.

One of the hardest things to teach talent is to stop at the payoff.

When you go to your local Comedy Works, or wherever you go to watch standup comedians, you can tell the older pros from the newer ones, and not just because they look older.

Really good comedians know exactly how to tell a joke, and they don’t waste any of the elements good joke-telling requires.

That includes recognizing their payoff, and stopping to let the listeners (audience) laugh.

Why is it so hard to get radio air talent to recognize a payoff and stop?

Well, partly because unlike live, standup comedians, radio talent is not usually scripted. They’re not usually just telling jokes.

They are improvising, counter-punching, responding to things others are saying, whether those are co-hosts or listeners. So the payoff hasn’t been tested and edited and retested and edited some more, until its perfect.

But if I can give younger talent one tip it is this: Listen for payoffs and when you hear one, stop — and move on to the next element. If you have some sort of audible exclamation point — rim shot or whatever — that can sometimes help the transition.

Laughter works too. If your co-hosts react authentically by laughing, congratulations, your payoff worked.


We know listeners have a short attention span (well, all of us do, but we forget that when we’re the ones doing the talking) so don’t overwhelm them every break.

Be satisfied with the first payoff.

Over time, you’ll learn how to make the first payoff the best payoff. That just takes practice in editing out the extraneous.

So, in the words of our famous (and unlikely) editor above, don’t give too much each time you speak.

More than enough is almost always too much.