Michael Che Campbell is best known for his work on Saturday Night Live, where he serves as co-anchor on Weekend Update and co-head writer. He has also appeared and written several shows and films. But above all of that, Michael Che is a stand-up comedian. With over a decade of experience, Che is recognized as an authority in the world of comedy.
In his free time, Che enjoys causing a ruckus on Instagram (@chethinks). Instead of sharing and viewing photos like most users, he uses the platform to post his thoughts. His posts have been known to be captivating, amusing, and offensive depending on who you're talking to. He follows no one, but 595k follow him closely. Most of his posts are responses to messages his legion sends to him. But if you visit his profile, you maybe disappointed to find there isn't much there. This is because he deletes most of his content days after sharing. Che moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss him.
In December 2018, Che was feeling generous. Instead of his typical banter, he provided genuine guidance for aspiring stand-up comedians in his 24-hour Instagram story. Knowing that it was only a matter of time before deletion, I took screenshots of his advice then proceeded to completely forget about it. Until now.
With no further ado, here is Michael Che's free unsolicited comedy advice to future comics.
This is just free unsolicited comedy advice, to future comics. Also, don't buy into that whole "punching down" bullshit either. There's no such thing. If you're a comic, everyone is fair game. And the more stuck up red faces there are pouting with their arms crossed in the back of the room muttering, "this is an outrage!" the better. Enjoy.
A great comic can get away with anything. Richard Pryor made jokes about fighting his wife high on coke, and made it funny. George Carlin made jokes about kids hanging themselves while jerking off, and made it funny. It's like a magic trick. Or like telling a master chef, an ingredient is bad. They'll turn that shit into cuisine, because that's the art.
The easiest way to ruin a joke is to write it out, verbatim. Of course some jokes can survive like that, but there is so much that goes into joke telling that is not accounted for in quotes. That's why we tell them over and over again. There is rhythm. There is timing. There is context. The whole point is that I'm trying to make you laugh at some shit you never thought could be funny!
Every time I watch younger comics (in experience, not age) they always start with all these right answer jokes. They connect with the audience by proving they're just like them. Oh boy, how interesting. It's a crutch. Because if the audience agrees with you, they'll be supportive, even if you're not actually funny. Like when someone sings gospel on Showtime at the Apollo. Can't boo Jesus! I've done it too, by the way. I'm not exempt. That's why I can identify it.
People tell me "I want to try comedy, but I don't have any jokes." And I'm like yeah. Nobody does. Even if you think you do, you don't. Even if it works, believe me, they suck. And that's okay! Writing comes later. First, you just need to get comfortable on stage. Then you'll know what you wanna say, once you're there.