Caddel's Comedy Dictionary

“There are two types of people in this world.
Those who read & those who don’t.”

Author Jake Caddel offers his Comedy Dictionary for free reading only at GotJokes.LA

© 2024 Jake Caddel / GotJokes.LA
This digital-work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office


'A' material

The best jokes in a comics bit, set, or show.


The rating system of a comics jokes.

Act out

A scene with one or more POVs acted out by a comic.


To deliver a joke in the moment as it comes to you, temporarily deviating from the script.

Aged out

A point in a comics career when they struggle to find work because a new & younger generation of audiences do not attend their shows.


A professional in the comedy industry who charges a percentage-based fee to get comics booked to perform, endorsement deals from advertisers, and above all else – Paid!

Alternative interpretations

A list of any possible interpretation other than the obvious interpretation that the audience was setup (by the comic) to assume.


Any word, phrase, or statement that has more than one possible meaning.

Applause break

When a comic pauses to allow the audience to clap.


An expected conclusion the audience is led to believe by a comics setup.


The dates & times a comic is available to work that is sent out to bookers.

'B' material

The second best jokes in a comics bit, set, or show.


The most effective order of jokes in a comics routine.
‘B’ material first, ‘C’ material second, and ‘A’ material to close the routine.

Beat, take

A pause or break by a comic during a performance.

Behavioral delivery

Any non-verbal comedic delivery by a comic in a routine.
i.e. facial-expression, body-language, etc.


A section within a comics routine or show.
aka – a short routine.

Blue material

Jokes containing profanity, sexual imagery, or shock that may offend some audience members.


To do a bit, set, or show that gets little or no laughs.


To get work as a comic.


Any person who hires and/or pays comics to work.


The act of hiring comics for shows.


A show that requires comics to bring guests in exchange for stage-time.

Bucket list open mic

see: Open mic, lottery.

Bumped, to get

To be moved further down, or off, a list of performers as a result of other comics being added.

'C' material

The third best jokes in a comics bit, set, or show.


A joke that refers back to another joke that was delivered earlier in a comics show.


The final jokes in a comics performance. Professional comics will always ‘cap it off’ with ‘A’ material.
aka – to cap off.


An ordinary phrase adopted by a comic in such a unique way that it becomes a comics trademark.

  1. Gary Coleman’s, “Whatcha talkin bout?”
  2. Jim Carrey’s, “Alrighty, then!”

Character POV

The point of view from any third person, or object, in a comics act.
Also see: POV

Clean material

Traditionally, it means no profanity. In comedy, it may also be the prohibition of sexual, hateful, or violent content.

  1. Family Guy is on commercial TV with bleeped-out profanity, but has sexual material, violence, and racial content.
  2. The Laugh Factory’s (Open-Mic) prohibits profanity, sexual material, violence, and racism altogether.


A show that has multiple comics with the final comic being the closer.
see: Headliner

Closing line

The last & final joke a comic delivers before leaving the stage. Professional comics will always close with ‘A’ material.


A performer who entertains by being funny & making people laugh.
i.e. comedic actor/actress, not all comedians are comics.

- Comedian's comedian

A comedian loved by other comedians.


A performer who entertains by ‘telling jokes’ & making people laugh.
i.e. all comics are comedians, not all comedians are comics.

- Comic's comic

A comic loved by other comics.

Comic's Clichés

Commonly known comedic phrases & predictable jokes overused by comics.
see: Hack

Comic timing

When a comic paces the delivery of their material in order to establish a smooth show for the audience. i.e. applause break, pause for laughs, behavioral material, etc.
aka – flow


The ambiguity in ‘most’ all joke structures, exploited by comics in order to trigger laughter from the audience.
i.e. “Where’s your connection?”
see: Ambiguity


When the salivary glands in the mouth don’t make enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. This is triggered by nerves during a comics performance.
Hint – Sip luke-warm lemon water before performing.


see: Mic-cord


When the audience responds to a joke so quietly, one could hear crickets.
aka – crickets from the audience.
see: Bomb

Critic spot

A location designated for comics to have their performances evaluated. Pre-show is a rehearsal & post-show is a critic spot.
Example: Comics will record their show, then have a critics spot for review.
Also see: Performer space

Crowd work

Whenever a comic banters with the audience.
see: Riffing

Crush, to

To perform extremely well during a bit, set, or show.
i.e. “You crushed it!”
aka – kill, to


A comics style of presenting their comedic material.

Die, to

see: Bomb; dying.


To perform two comedy shows, or clubs, in one night.


Whenever a famous comedian arrives to a show unannounced, and gets to go on stage to perform.
Also see: Bumped, to get

Drop-out, a

Whenever a comic cancels their own appearance in a comedy shows line-up.

Dry mouth

see: Cottonmouth


To continuously bomb during a bit, set, or show.
i.e. “He’s dying up there!”
see: Bomb

Edgy material

Comedic material that approaches the line of being controversial for ‘the current’ audience, without crossing it.
i.e. “She almost crossed the line with some of her jokes!”
Hint – The line is dictated by the type of audience.


The person who introduces the comics throughout the show.
Archaic – Master, or Mistress, of Ceremonies.
see: MC


The 2nd comic in the standard 3-comic show line-up.
aka – middle

Fill in

A comic being added to a show on short notice due to another comic dropping out.

Flop sweat

A comic sweating profusely on stage as a reaction to knowing they are flopping.
see: Bomb


See: Bomb


See: Comic timing


A joke.

Gag file

A joke file.


When a comic fears being laughed at, rather than laughs for their jokes.
Literal – Fear of being laughed at.


A method for rating the effectiveness of jokes in order to determine their proper place in a bit, set, or show.

Green room

A private room for comics to gather before, during, and after a show.

Guest set

A courtesy spot in a live show offered by comedy clubs to established comics.

Hack, a

A comic whose material lacks any originality or freshness.


Material that is overused and thus cliché, or trite. Lacking originality & freshness.
Originating from the British word, ‘hackneyed.’

Hammock, to

The technique of placing ‘C’ material, or improvision, between 2 strong bits (between ‘A’ and/or ‘B’ material).
i.e. “to hammock it in.”


The last comic to perform on stage, and who is considered the star of the show.
aka – closer


A member of the audience who interrupts the show by shouting at the comic on stage.

  1. Shouting and exchanging insults with the comic;
  2. Shouting out of excitement, thinking they are helping the show – foolishly!


see: Emcee.


Mostly to act out recognizable celebs, but can also be an animal, object, or person-of-interest to the comic.


see: Improvisation.


To ad-lib an entire bit, or to banter with the audience.

Inside joke

A joke referring to information, or knowledge, shared only by a few.


A stuctured & articulate form of humor, with the most common being setup, misdirection, punch.

  1. Just cause’ it’s funny, doesn’t mean it’s a joke.
  2. Just cause’ it’s a joke, doesn’t mean it’s funny.

Joke diagram

Any visual aid used to illustrate and/or identify the structure of a specific joke.

Joke file

Jokes organized on index cards or files.

Joke premise

see: Premise.


A term used to describe playful teasing & joking around.
i.e. “He can be a little jokey at times.”

Kill, to

To perform extremely well during a bit, set, or show. i.e. “You killed!”
aka – crush, to

Laser beam

Controversy from a joke resulting in ‘laser beam glares’ from those offended.
i.e. “She received some laser beams from the audience.”

Laughs per minute

The measurement of how many laughs a comic gets in a minute. Can be a specific minute, or an overall average from time on stage.

Light, the

A signal to comics preforming on stage that their time is almost up.

Light, continuous

A continuous light that stays on, or continuously flashes, is when a comic has already received the initial light, but is still not getting off stage. Now, the club is demanding that you, “Get Off Now!”
see: Red light.

Light me

A comic reminding the club to light them so they don’t go over their time (pre-show).

  1. Some comics lose track of time on stage.
  2. Some headliners are running late, the opener will say, “Light me when she’s ready!”


The list of comics slated to perform at a show.

Lottery open mic

see: Open mic, lottery.


Laughs Per Minute.
Also see: Laughs per minute.



Abbreviation for microphone.

Mic cord

The electrical/audio wire connected to the mic.
aka – XLR cable

  1. Wireless mics can be affected by other wireless devices, or equipment.
  2. Wireless mics can easily be blocked (jammed) by saboteurs.
  3. The icing on the cake, wireless mics are no match for the audio quality of XLR cables.

Mic jack

The electrical/audio plug used to connect the cable to the mic.
aka – XLR connector

Mic stand

A height adjustable piece of equipment for holding a mic.

Mic technique

The art of using the mic as a professional during a performance.

Most commonly used technique in stand-up comedy:

  1. Remove mic from the mic-stand first.
  2. Pick up the mic-stand from the bottom-half.
  3. Place mic-stand behind you without turning all the way around.
  4. Always face the audience, unless it’s a part of your act not to.
  5. Professional mics are omnidirectional, let the audience see your full-face.


The 2nd comic in the standard 3-comic show line-up.
aka – feature


A long script for a solo performing comic.

Narrator POV

The point of view from the comic describing a scene from the outside.
Also see: POV

On the road

Continually performing comedy abroad, usually on a comedy tour.


The shortest joke structure: setup, misdirection, punch.

One-liner timing

Let the laugh peak, simmer-down, then continue with tag, or next setup.


Being booked for one night only.

Open mic

A room, usually in a comedy club, open to anyone who wants to perform for a few minutes.

  1. Spots not guaranteed. Usually a sign-up process, lottery, and/or small fee is required.
  2. Some open-mics are exclusive to Female/Non-Binary, LGBTQ+, & Minorities.

Open mic, bucket list

see: Open mic, lottery

Open mic, lottery

The shows line-up is determined by pulling names out of a bucket, hat, etc.
aka – bucket list open mic.
Hint – Usually partially rigged by the host (who’s also a comic).

Open Micer

A amateur comic who performs at open mics regularly in hopes of one day becoming a professional.

i.e. Scott Timm Thorn aka The Open Mic King, a now retired 30 year open-mic veteran.

Open spot

An unfilled slot in a comedy shows line-up.


The 1st comic to perform in show.

  1. Comes on after the Emcee.
  2. Emcee can also be the opener.

Opening line

The first joke in a stand-up comedy routine.

Paid regular

A comedian whose material & delivery has earned the respect of a comedy club, and who is now paid to perform there on a regular basis.


Arguably, the lowest & weakest form of comedy – saying ‘things’ instead of ‘jokes’ to an audience in order to trigger ‘applause’ instead of ‘laughter’.
i.e. – “Ugh, she’s bombing so bad, she’s pandering now!”
aka – pandering to the audience.


To consciously & briefly cease talking during a performance in order to control the tempo of timing, delivery, and laughs.
Also see: Comic timing

Performer space

A location designated for comics to evaluate their own performance. Pre-show is a rehearsal & post-show is a performer space.
Example: Comics will record their show, then have a performer space to review theirself.
Also see: Critic spot


Point of view.


Point of views.


The premise is the comics thesis statement, that once defined becomes the comics responsibility to prove, or justify, through the form of joke structures.


see: Showcase.

Prop comics

Comics who perform with props.
i.e. Carrot Top.


see: Punch line

Punch down

Insulting jokes targeting innocent people who are vulnerable, aren’t as experienced, or otherwise can’t fight back.

  1. This will inspire veteran comics to hit you mercilessly.
  2. Go too far, and this can even get you cancelled.

Punch line

The final part of joke structure which reinterprets the ambiguity in the setup in order to trigger laughter. Also used to lead, or setup, tags.
Also see: Tags

Punch up

There are 2 separate definitions of ‘punching up’ in comedy:

  1. Comics working together to improve each others jokes, or a comic punching up their own jokes.
  2. Playfully teasing people who are considered to be on a higher pedestal than you.

Red light

Comes after the initial light (not red). The initial light tells the comic that their time is almost up. The red light tells the comic that their time is up.


Comics who appear regularly at a particular comedy club.


A comic drilling their monologue, joke structures, delivery, behavioral delivery, act outs, impressions, comic timing, etcetera.


Any ‘unexpected’ alternative interpretation of the ambiguity in the setup.


The word, or phrase, within a punch line that reveals the reinterpretation of the ambiguity in the setup.


To verbally banter with the audience.


To attack, insult, or verbally tear into an audience member or comic who brought it upon themselves (who deservers it).
aka – rip into; ripping.

Road work

see: On the road.

Road comic

see: On the road.


Using jokes to insult & embarrass a specific person as a means of honoring them.

Roast battle

Two or more comics agree to meet and face-off in a consensual battle of comedic insults.

Roll, on a

The delivery of a series of jokes done so extremely well that the audience continuously laughs for an extended period of time.


A series of jokes on the same subject, or story.

Rule of three

Jokes with a setup that has two expected interpretations, with a third ‘unexpected’ reinterpretation being the punch line.

Running gag

Multiple callbacks to a recurring joke throughout the show.
Also see: Callback.

Sandwich, to

see: Hammock, to

Scene work

An scene with one or more POVs acted out by the comic.


A transitional line used to move from one joke, or bit, to another.
aka – transitional material.

Self POV

Whenever a comic moves from narration, or third person, to acting out their own character in a scene.
aka – second person (you, the comic, in the scene).


A list of bits and/or stories compiled together for a show.
i.e. “What’s your set gonna be about tonight?”

Set list

A bullet point list containing the chronological order of bits, and routines, a comic will perform in a show.


The first part of a joke, containing ambiguity, used to establish a false-assumption (first story) in order to trick the audience. Hence, the term ‘setup’.
Also see: Ambiguity.


The punch line which reveals the reinterpretation (second story) of the ambiguity in the setup, and thus triggers laughter.


To perform with the potential of being seen by potential bookers, agents, and touring comics.


Yiddish word for a comic performing a gimmick, trick, or prank.
Yiddish: A language used by Jews in central/eastern Europe pre-Holocaust.
Shtick: Middle-ages German – Stücke, “a little piece.”

Sight gag

A physical joke intended to be seen.


Open mics that require performers to request, or pay, for a spot in advance.

Smooth on & smooth off

A phrase describing the best way to enter & exit the stage in order to ensure a smooth show.
Note: Coined by Jerry Seinfeld.

Stage presence

A comics ability to control the state-of-mind, timing, and tempo of their show.
aka – to be present.

Stage time

There are 2 separate definitions of ‘stage time’ in comedy:

  1. Going on stage & getting experience before a live audience (open-micers).
  2. The duration, in minutes, a comic gets to perform at a show (professionals).

Stay in character

A rehearsal reminder to comics to pause & allow the audience to laugh, without breaking character, or leaving the story.
i.e. “Don’t break character.”
aka – stay in the bit / stay in the scene.

Stretch, to

When a comic, usually the Emcee, goes on stage and continually performs until a technical, or logistical, problem is being solved behind the scene.


An additional punch, following the original punch line, that does not require a new setup. A tag can also be a setup for another tag.
Note: You can have multiple tags.
aka – tag line.

Tag timing

A brief pause between punch & tag, tag & tag, tag & transition, in order to allow the audience to laugh without breaking character.

Take, a

A comical ‘facial’ reaction, or impression, in a comics delivery.
e.g. Brian Regan

Talking head

A comic who memorizes their jokes, and then delivers them with little-to-no emotion, or stage-presence.
i.e. “He was basically just a talking head.”
– Sorry, no Refunds!


see: Target assumption.

Target assumption

The expected interpretation of the ambiguity established by the comics setup.


To perform three comedy shows, or clubs, in one night.

Throw away

To put little emphasis, or effort, into a delivery that deserved more.
i.e. “That could have been a lot funnier, what a throw away!

Time slot

A specific place, time, and minutes, a comic has been given in a shows line-up.

  1. A comics place in a line-up with other comics.
  2. What time a comic gets to go on stage.
  3. How many minutes the comic gets to perform.


see: Comic timing.

Topical jokes

Comedic material based on current events.


see: Tag.

Traditional comedy clubs

Comedy clubs that book an Emcee (opener), Feature (middle), & Headliner (closer) for most of their shows.

Unpaid regular

A comedian whose material & delivery has earned enough respect of a comedy club to be allowed to perform there on a regular basis.

Variety performers

Comics who perform along with a variety skill.
i.e. juggling, magic, musical instrument, ventriloquism, etc.

Week gigs

Getting booked for paid shows Monday through Thursday.
Note: Sunday can be considered week or weekend.

Weekend gigs

Getting booked for paid shows on a Friday, Saturday, and/or Sunday.

© 2024 Jake Caddel / GotJokes.LA
This digital-work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office

Cat Image © 2024 Jake Caddel / GotJokes.LA