Comedy Myth #3: Great comics don’t do “hack” material

Hack material, to some extent, is subjective. There’s a comic in San Francisco who has based his entire career on dick jokes…and he’s one of the funniest comics I’ve ever seen. His dick jokes are clever. I’m chuckling right now thinking about them. I wish I could write a dick joke that good.

Also, dick jokes are hack AF and you shouldn’t ever tell them.

As you can see, it’s tough to give consistent advice when it comes to hack material. Every premise has been done, every nook and crannie of humor has been mined, so it would be fair to say that all material is essentially hack. But it’s also true that some premises are revisited more often than others, and some joke premises have been used and abused so often that the mere mention of them makes comedians cringe. Airplane food, doing laundry, dick/vagina/period/masturbation jokes…hack premises.

Hack premises change over time, so here’s a quick list of premises and joke structures that I personally consider to be hack:

Jokes about vegans. Just…stop.
Any joke in which some version of “mom” is the punchline. “A heckler started yelling about how I’m not funny and I suck at comedy and how I’ll never succeed and I was like, ‘I think you’ve had enough to drink, mom.’”
Whole Foods is expensive amiright
The tag where you say you’re just kidding. “My gf got mad because my dog farted in our bed last night. I’m just kidding…I don’t own a dog. I’m just kidding…I don’t have a gf. I’m just kidding…”
Starting your set with a joke about your appearance. Deduct extra points for any version of I look like if this one obscure celebrity fucked [other obscure celebrity or inanimate object] “I look like if Steve Buscemi fucked a shower curtain from 1975”
“My wife and I just had our eighth anniversary.” Smattering of applause. “Yep, that’s the exact amount of applause that deserves.”
“I lost 20 pounds this year!” (Applause.) “I gained 30 back.”
Jokes about chipotle

With all of that said, I have a hilarious joke about Chipotle and it gets a huge laugh every time, so fuck you and your judgment.

Seriously, if you have a joke that fits into a hack premise, but to your knowledge it hasn’t been done before, more power to you. Don’t steal jokes, obvi. But if you have a dick joke that makes you laugh, and makes audiences laugh, and it’s never been done in the way you do it, cool. Just be aware that other comics are going to judge you. But other comics tend to be jerks, so whatev.

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