How Could You Measure What’s Funny? | The Analytics Of Live Comedy

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How Could You Measure What’s Funny? | The Analytics Of Live Comedy

How do you know when someone’s funny?

There’s no real way of articulating what you find funny. Funny just ‘is’ or ‘isn’t’ – isn’t it?! Something or someone either does it for you, or doesn’t. There’s not much more too it.

(Well, apparently there is a lot more to it, here’s an article on the science of laughter if you’re interested in that kind of stuff.)

But, could we ever measure live comedy? And what factors would we look at?


I’m a comedian, but also a lover of online analytics and stats. There’s something very addictive about producing content online and having an instant mechanism to see whether or not people like it. Whether they watch it, share it, comment on it.

Measuring Live Comedy

And it’s kind of similar in stand up. With stand up comedy, the only thing you have is instant feedback. And that feedback will determine whether you have an amazing gig, or whether you don’t and you go home hating yourself and blaming everyone around you for the fate of the show.

“It wasn’t me, the lighting in the venue was too bright, the MC was on too long on before me and the music during the interval was the wrong BPM for a comedy club.”

We can already measure funny online to an extent – likes, shares, views etcbut what would we measure at a live stand up comedy gig to inform us as to who’s funny and who’s not?

It got me looking through Google Analytics for ideas about what we could measure at a live stand up comedy show, to help us make an informed decision about funniness, or the lack of it.

Here’s what I’d look at:

Unique Laughs

How many individuals can you make laugh in total? A standard approach.

Although there’s a problem here already – size of the venue. One comedian could get more laughs by simply performing in a slightly bigger venue.

Laugh Frequency

How many times does a person laugh during your set. Obviously the more laughing done by the punters at a gig the better right? But what about the quality of the laughing?

Laugh Intensity

Laugh intensity, the overall quality of the laughing. The loudness, knee slapping, crying and stomach aching all combined into one number.

I’d like to guess that having a few really intense laughs where a little pee comes out, would be better than having a lot of little smily chuckles throughout the course of a gig.

(How you could physically measure all those and attribute some sort of number to it, not quite sure yet.)

Bounce Rate

The rate at which people leave.

If you’re into digital marketing, you don’t like this number. But just be happy with the fact that you don’t get to witness the person (or persons) leaving right in the middle or your set.

You can experience the rejection on your own behind a computer screen, not in front of a room of people.

The higher the bounce rate, the worse the comedian. Unless people are just leaving to get the last bus home okay?

Your Comedy Klout

Comedy Klout Score

You could combine all of the above factors into some sort of fancy algorithm to give you your comedy score. Would it be accurate? Maybe and maybe not.

How we’d be able to measure all of those factors may not be the easiest. Measuring the physical reactions of people may need them strapped up to a variety of monitoring devices during a show and then they may not be in the best mood to laugh.

Sure let me know your thoughts. I personally wouldn’t like this in a comedy club, but with big data and measurement infecting it’s way into every part of the world, I fear it’s only a matter of time…