How to structure a tight five set for late night
Go personal and realize low hanging fruit might just be the right approach.
Putting together a submission tape for something like New Faces or a Late Night set? It’s not just your best 5 minutes, according to Amy Hawthorne.
Here’s a high level breakdown of the most standard format
INTRO: Some variation on the easy “I look like” opener you probably dropped ages ago because it felt a bit like low hanging fruit.
CONTENT: Generally this will be more personal/introductory than a typical set. Though often it doesn’t need to be literally autobiographical, as long as the jokes really focus on introducing you, your background and your perspective.
It’s also usually better to put bits together that all have a single throughline. That may mean Frankensteining together parts of separate jokes or moving bits closer together that usually have other connective tissue or entirely other jokes in between.
DISMOUNT: I like to call this the “Ta Da!” The most common thing to do is the kind of clever callback that makes you go “oh, I see what you did there” but will make the studio and at home audience lose their minds.
She also put together a playlist of debut Late Night sets for inspiration.
Funny How: Letters to a Young Comedian is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I think you can learn a lot by watching classic late night debut sets too. For example, here’s one of my all-time faves: Drew Carey.