How Jerry Seinfeld Writes Comedy

Just about everything you need to know about writing comedy is in this fine article by Jess Zafarris. All that’s left for y’all to add is talent.

Yeppers, there’s always a catch, ain’t there?

Jerry Seinfeld’s 5-Step Comedy Writing Process
by Jess Zafarris

I just moved to the greater New York City area about a month ago, and I’ve already have my first super memorable “New York Moment.” And serendipitously enough, it turned out to be a wonderful teachable moment for me as a writer.

I went to the Gotham Comedy Club to watch a friend, the extremely talented amateur standup comedian (and WD Advertising Director) Tony Carrini, perform amid a lineup of about 10 other performers. Tony performed like an absolute pro, easily getting more laughs and showing better pacing and character than the vast majority of the other comics.

But one of them understandably stole the show when he made a surprise appearance—totally unannounced and unadvertised—at the venue.

When the host announced that Jerry Seinfeld was about to take the stage, I didn’t fully register what was happening. But there he was a moment later, rattling off jokes with the ease and rhythm of, well, one of the most famous comedians of all time.

Apparently Jerry makes a habit of spontaneously showing up at the club to test out jokes for future paid gigs. He had a couple of notecards with him, I assume with notes on the new material, but left them on the stool behind him and only glanced at them once, instead pacing the stage and engaging the crowd of about 30 attendees.

But the real ace in the hole for me was the short Q&A he provided at the end of the set.The routine was easily one of the funniest I’ve ever seen—in fact, one of the funniest I’ve seen him perform, so I’m hoping to see the set in one of his larger-scale shows soon.

One clever audience member, themselves an aspiring comic, asked him how he comes up with his material.

In response, Jerry Seinfeld himself shared a five-step rundown of his comedy writing process, which is not only useful for aspiring standup comedians, but also has broader applications for writers looking to add comedic elements to their own work.

Here’s (roughly) what he said:

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