• How to name your first comedy special

    Every time I read about someone’s comedy special or see an ad on the side of a bus, immediately after spit-taking the hot beverage that I’m casually sipping with a burst of seething jealousy as if I’m an evil villain in a sitcom, I think to myself, “What would my comedy special be called?”

    Obviously, I’d want to come up with an incredible name that would be so perfect it’d leave Colin Quinn biting his fist and other comedians whispering to themselves, “Fuck, that’s perfect.”

    Here’s a name that popped into my mind: Just Hear Me Out—but a quick Google search shows that Kevin Nealon called his special that already. Screw you, Kevin. I think you’re really funny and all, but I hate it when someone beats me to an idea I put almost zero effort into.

    Ooh, how about Hear, hear! I know it’s old-timey and old-timey stuff isn’t super “in” right now, but it might be again by the time I get around to recording this special. I’ll add that to the maybe list.

    I’m about to toss another one out, get ready: You Don’t Say? It, too, is kind of old-timey, but it also almost works. Imagine it asked by an older woman in the 1930s or 40s responding to someone who just told her something boring. It’s a play on words which seems to do well in the comedy special arena, as in, You Shouldn’t Say…what this comedian is about to say, or the subtext being, “No one ever says anything this awesome!”

    Or maybe, I Say! That’s almost the opposite of You Don’t Say? It’s more of a statement, versus a question, as in, “I say, my good man!”. The title must be uttered by all members of the media and ticket purchasers in a British accent in order to really work. I guess I can’t control how people pronounce the show’s title. Maybe my press agent could spread around to some cool people on whatever cool people list he keeps how it should be said (which is one reason why, in this fantasy, I pay him $2000 a week).

    However, a comedy title should, generally, be a punchline or part of a joke from the special. So I’d have to write a special joke about the expressions, “You Don’t Say?” or “I say!” and that seems like a lot of work. Otherwise, it’s too forced, almost cheating, and the audience is going to know that and they’re going to hate the joke and it’s going to be cut out of the special, and it’d be very weird to have a special with the title being the main joke that got cut out.

    Along the lines of I Say, I realize that I Do Declare could also work. It might be too weird. I don’t know if anyone would want to watch a comedy special called I Do Declare. It sounds like Southern belle-inspired porn, which my press agent might argue could help viewership. Thought, the people who’d watch I Do Declare because they think it might be Southern belle-inspired porn probably aren’t the folks who’d stick around after seeing it’s not porn. You never know. Maybe I would develop a totally new fan base of Southern belle-inspired porn and comedy-loving people.  I doubt I’d be the first, but maybe I could take it further by making t-shirts that say, “Jessica Delfino – The Comedian Whose Southern belle-inspired Porn Lovers Love Too”. Or, “If You Love Southern belle-inspired Porn, You’ll Love Jessica Delfino”. Wait, no, because that makes me sound like a Southern belle-inspired porn star. No offense to them; they work hard. But I prefer to show my vagina and rectum in the form of jokes.

    If I were going to go that route, I could just call my show Southern Belle-inspired Porn. It’d definitely get some attention and I could easily write a joke about Southern belle-inspired porn for my title joke. In fact, I think I already have a few.

    These can all go on my maybe list.

    Maybe I could go with a made-up word, the way Phil Collins did with his album ABACAB. The problem, besides the fact that millennials don’t know who Phil Collins is and won’t get the twist, is that ABACAB wasn’t a made-up word. It’s the structuring of a song. A represents the verse, B represents the chorus and C represents the bridge. So maybe I could do that but with comedy. It’d be, SPLA ad nauseam. S = set up, P = punchline, L = laughter, A = applause. Even though it sounds like a very bad band name or the sound of vomit, there’s something interesting about it. It could make people curious, which would be good. It could also make them just not go, which would be bad.

    Despite all of that, I can guarantee that Kevin Nealon never had a show with that name.

    I could write a few random words and throw them into a hat, and then pick some out. I could ask my mom—she seems to have all the advice about exactly how I could be a hugely successful comedian.

    I could hire a marketing company to name my comedy special, but I am a comedian. I should be able to come up with a name for my comedy special on my own or else I should quit comedy and go do anything else.

    I’ve got it! I’m going to write my special first. And then I’ll name it later.

    Jessica Delfino

    Jessica Delfino is a comedian, musician, writer, and mom who has written for The Atlantic, Huffington Post, High Times, SELF, The Week, Adult Swim and MTV. Her comedy has been featured on ABC's Good Morning America, Montreal Comedy Festival, Reading & Leeds Festival, Glamour, Mashable, SiriusXM and College Humor and has been profiled by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, Vulture, Refinery29, New York Magazine and denounced by the U.S. Catholic League. She plays guitar, ukulele, rape whistle, singing saw, autoharp and your heart strings. Even though she knows it ruins careers left and right, she loves Twitter and can be found lurking there at @jessicadelfino.

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