If you haven’t seen comedian Karen Rontowski’s comedy then . . .
you’re missing out! She is one of the funniest comedians out there and I’m thrilled to interview her for my comedy writing blog. We met through our mutual friend comedian Frank King many moons ago, and we hit it off instantly. Karen is funny, her act is well written and she’s a nice person – all the things you want in a comedian (and in a friend really)! And by the way, I didn’t say she was one of the funniest “female” comedians out there, because she’s funny, period — regardless of being a woman. She’s one of the comics that I could watch over and over and laugh at the same jokes every time.
Here’s her spin on how she finds humor. Check out her website too at the end of this article and sign up for her email list now!
KAREN’S BIO: From the Late Show with David Letterman to Comics Unleashed Karen Rontowski has been doing stand up comedy with intermittent success for 25 years. She is also a Paranormal Investigator, tarot reader and lover of all things unknown including the location of her car keys.
Where do you look for comedic inspiration?
I just look for anything that seems odd or off. I save information like that and if anyone ever find my note books or as I call it my manifesto, they will find it completely insane. 15 years ago I went past a yard sale and they were selling 12 doorknobs. To this day that is an entry in every list of premises i have. I have never seen that many doorknobs together without doors and am sure i never will yet the number of questions I still have about that goes to infinity. The idea that the guy selling them though someone who needed 12 doorknobs would be at a yard sale is one of the greatest exercises in optimism i have ever seen. I still kick myself for not asking how much he wanted for them or why he didn’t need them anymore. I love small out-of-place observations like that. They send my brain spinning into the past, the future and every scenario about how those ended up there. The truth probably was that he was a meth head dismantling the house and selling it piece by piece but we will never know. Someday I will make that funny.
I also like very large or very small comparisons: “I only buy things in trial size or giant Costco size and then i do mushrooms and pretend I’m Alice in Wonderland.”
Anything odd. ANYTHING!
How do you know something is funny before you use it or sell it?
I NEVER know. I have found the best system is to post things on Facebook and see who reacts to it. I recently spoke with some of the writers for Conan and they said they write 30-40 jokes a day. I asked how many were usable and they said, 2 or 3. No one knows and don’t believe them if they tell you they do.
What advice would you give to a non-comedian who wants to spruce up their speech or office memo with a bit of humor?
Hire a comic and you will save yourself a big headache! Just kidding.
Remember that people are funny just being themselves. Your experiences and mistakes are the essence of you and are more entertaining than you think.
I once had a guy tell me the funniest story about a ghost i ever heard. He thought it was the ghost of his new wife’s ex and the genuine emotions and descriptions had me on the floor laughing. The next day I asked him to tell the story for a podcast and it was terrible. He was trying to add stuff that never happened, his wife was behind him trying to make it funnier and he even added an old joke he must have thought I had never heard. it was terrible.
Be yourself. Tell your stories to a few friends and see their reaction. Don’t force anything.
Why do you like writing comedy?
I hate it. I seriously hate it. I sit chained to a desk slapping myself on the forehead. Saves me hundreds on Botox.
What is your best comedy writing tip?
1)Get 3 sheets of paper and a 4×6 reference card
2) pick your joke/topic
3) write 3 pages about it even if you are writing , “I don’t know what to write about this.” and continue until all 3 pages are full.
4) the minute something seems interesting stop and make a note of it on the 4×6 card.
5) throw away the three pages of writing and turn the notes on the 4×6 card into punchlines. They probably are already done.
Please sign up for my email list!!
www.karenrontowski.com – Karen’s website!
Follow on Twitter @rontowski
www.TheWorkLady.com – Jan’s website
www.ComedyEmcee.com – Jan’s emcee website