Episode 132

How to Subvert Expectations in Comedic Storytelling

I’m at a TED event when Sarah Silverman takes the stage. She launches into her comedy set and as she gets going, I notice something interesting.

A couple of jokes in, some people in the audience are already laughing hysterically. But others are fidgeting and looking uncomfortable with some of her content.

My husband Mark turns to me and says, “Stand-up comedy is hard.” I agree and whisper back, “Yeah – that’s why they invented Dad jokes. That’s much easier – they’re like training wheels for laughter.”

Stand-up on the other hand is another league and I’d rather leave to the professionals – like my special guest today.

Emily Walsh is a stand-up comedian who performs all over the world. And today on the Storytelling School Podcast, she shares how the worlds of comedy and story intertwine from her perspective. In this episode, you’ll hear about approaches to comedy shows and being a different version of yourself on stage (even if just slightly), as well as hear answers to questions such as:

How do you navigate the challenging waters of potentially offensive jokes to your audience? What role does story play in comedic content creation? How can you ease people into your jokes and get them comfortable with you as you tell your story? And what’s the one thing you don’t want to leave your audience with?

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What the first thing is that you must learn in any performance or presentation
  • How to discover the kind of material that will work for your audience most of the time
  • What you can do to re-engage a disengaged part of your audience

Who is Emily Walsh?

Emily Walsh is a comedian who performs nightly in bars and comedy clubs across New York City. Originally from Boston, Emily moved to New York City after college to pursue her dream of painting scenery for theatre, film and television. She still paints sometimes because comedy doesn’t provide health insurance.

Emily was recently featured on Kevin Hart’s Lyft Comics on Peacock. Her festival credits include HBO’s Women in Comedy Festival, SF Sketchfest, West End Festival in Atlanta, Boston Comedy Festival, the Out of Bounds Festival in Austin, and the Rogue Island Comedy Festival in Newport, Rhode Island. She also co-hosts the podcast Alone at Lunch, part of the Morbid podcast network on Wondery, and hosts and co-produces a monthly show at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn called Golden Ticket.

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