These notions…formed an idea that revolutionized my comic direction. What if there were no punch lines? What if there were no indicators? What if I created tension and never released it? What if I headed for a climax but delivered only an anticlimax? What would the audience do with that tension? Theoretically, it would have to come out sometime. But if I kept denying them the formality of a punchline, the audience would eventually pick their own place to laugh, if only out of desperation. This laugh seemed stronger to me, as they would be laughing at something they chose, rather than being told exactly when to laugh….
At least that was my theory. And for the next eight years, I rolled it up a hill like Sisyphus.
My first reviews came in. One said ‘Someone should tell this comedian that jokes have punchlines.’ Another said I represented ‘the most serious booking error in the history of Los Angeles music.’
‘Wait,’ I thought. ‘Let me explain my theory!’
– from the autobiography Born Standing Up.