Have you ever watched a news show in which they’re interviewing a witness or maybe someone who was just in a disaster? The interviewer says a few words and then waits. The interviewee will then say a word or two, and the interviewer continues to wait. EVENTUALLY the interviewee sprouts off with something vital that they saw or maybe some poignant insight they gained from the disaster – many times this is how the interviewer gets the interviewee to cry. . .by waiting for the reaction.

Don’t be afraid to ask the same questions

Now I don’t want you to get your clients to cry, and in fact I’m sometimes uncomfortable with how the news people use this technique, but I do think that Joke writers can take a lesson from these interviewers . . . by waiting for information. Many times when I’m interviewing a client, I ask something that may be obvious OR I’m talking to someone in an industry in which I’ve done millions of shows in – like health care or financial. The temptation is to skip questions because I already know many of the issues they’re facing. . .in health care its RAC audits and prescription drugs being prescribed from the doctor via e-mail. But instead I make myself still ask the client the questions, and then wait for them to fully respond. Because, not only do I get some great extra information and insight into the challenge, BUT many times they word it in a funnier way than I would have or in a way that makes me look at the subject differently, which then gives me a new comedy line.

So find the questions you want to ask about the group, and ask them consistently to all groups, and make sure you wait for a full answer. You can prompt them for more information, but don’t put words in their mouth even if you think you know the answer. Too many times we try to fill in the blanks when the client can fill them in better.