5 Joke Set Ups That Stand Up Comedians Need to Retire

You know what’s funny?  Comedy.  Stand up comedy, in particular, is an art form that some people have taken to amazing heights.  Some people have crapped all over it and inexplicably become rich in the process, but a number of people out there are just really great at telling hilarious stories and that’s awesome.  On the other hand, some people told a half funny story once to a guy who was abusing OTC medications who kind of chuckled and that made them think they should be taking the mic in front of any and every crowd they can find to wow them with their comedy stylings.

Some jokes just don’t work, some approaches to jokes just don’t work and some jokes have been done from every angle so many times that to even attempt them any more is ludicrous.  So if you want to try your stand up, don’t do this.  Any of this

I was Watching the News

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Did you see a funny story on the news?  Awesome, me too.  Please stop now and do not tell me anymore.  If something happens that’s newsworthy and is also hilarious or bizarre in some way, there’s a good chance, that same day, it was covered by Conan, Letterman, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver and every blogger with thumbs.  The day it happened.

Unless you, as a stand up, just got the Reuters alert on your way to the stage and wrote the joke while you were being introduced, your topical humor will be a terrible failure because everyone covered it already a hundred times over or we all have to acknowledge you never saw this on the news at all.  You may as well tell me about how zany that Lorena Bobbitt chick was.

So I Was on an Airplane

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The day after the Wright brothers got that plane off the ground, some asshole friend probably cracked wise about the piss poor leg room or how they were afraid the toilet was going to suck their insides out.  Maybe, just maybe, they also made jokes about the poor quality food.  And what’s the deal with those peanuts?

Every year there are nearly 2 billion people who travel by air.  Billion.  We’re all pretty much aware of the issues with air travel these days.  A comedian’s hilarious observations about the TSA are like telling you how your uncle is a curious mix of half lecherous and half catatonic.  You know this already, why is a comedian boring you with these details?

Commercial space flight is just taking off, it may be time for a new set of jokes about the complications of zero gravity masturbation and how you poop in an asteroid field, but that’s about the only real direction this stuff can go, unless some comedians also moonlight as pilots and have hilarious, drunken insights into how we have no idea what’s going on in the cockpit.

I Like to Mess with People

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No single sentence is more unbelievable in all of stand up comedy than the statement “sometimes I like to mess with people” or any permutation thereof.  No you don’t.  None of us believe that.  No comedian ever “messes” with people.  When a cop pulls them over, they don’t eat a bag of oregano to mess with him.  They don’t paint “free candy” on the side of their van and drive to playgrounds to mess with people.  They didn’t mess with the customers they had at their previous job, they don’t mess with telemarketers and even if they do, by framing the joke this way they sound an awful lot like a teenage boy talking to his friends about the sweet jumps he does with his skateboard, or the totally hot babes he met when he was out of town with his family that you don’t know and will never meet. 

They could be the messingest messer who ever messed with anyone, but the moment they say they like to mess with people, they sound like a lying idiot.  Instead, just tell the story and if it’s remotely believable and funny, people will laugh.  Also worth noting, try to make it remotely believable. And funny.

I Look Like

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Are you a fat Asian with thick glasses in an all white suit?  Don’t you dare say you look like the bastard child of Kim Jong-Il and Colonel Sanders.  Every ugly comedian made this joke already.  Maybe not with Colonel Sanders but the “I look like” intro is played out if for no other reason than their audience probably has the power to see.  If they look like Gary Busey and a prolapsed anus had a baby everyone will notice that when they ooze their toothy grin onto the stage.  Please refrain from noting the obvious and leap into something a little more robust by way of an intro, that’d be something.

I Am Ethnic!

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Do you know why no one liked Carlos Mencia?  Because he sucked.  But to a lesser degree it was because most of his routine is based on him being Mexican (which he isn’t) and he’d say hilarious things like “beaner.”  For Christ’s sake.  Everyone is something, there’s no reason to make that the basis of a comedy routine.  Do you know how many other people are Chinese?  A billion.  Don’t tell jokes about being Chinese, 1 in 7 people already knows what you’re talking about and the rest heard it from another comedian.

If you’re still holding out hope there’s comedy to be wrung out of ethnic observations, maybe you need to head to Netflix and queue up 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  If you think that movie is funny then by all means, continue riffing on your ancestry.

By the way, yes, I know these are all cliché criticisms of stand up comedy.  Obviously.  This was a bit from 2012.