A joke as a complete thought; or, why some bits don't work
The venerable and irritable inventer of observational humor, Jerry Seinfeld, said that a joke is like jumping a ravine. I'll paraphrase a bit here, but:
You have to give the audience enough information on one side to give them air, and enough information on the other side for them to land.
If you give them too much on either end, the jump won't be exciting, there's not much of a "leap" for the audience to make. In other words, the joke won't be funny.
On the other hand, if you don't give enough of a ramp or a landing, however, the audience won't have enough context or information to get what you're saying. The idea is incomplete, and once again, no funny.
I say all of this to say what? Your joke has to be a complete idea. A lot of open mic comics get caught up in trying to be surprising, or trying to introduce a new perspective, but the through line of thought has to be complete.
I'm trying to ask this question of myself: if I was saying what I'm saying and not trying to be funny, would this idea hold up? If someone were to critically look at this like a debate argument or thesis, would it hold up to scrutiny?
If the bit isn't a complete thought as a non-funny idea, it probably won't be a funny idea either.
That's all for today! See ya tomorrow!