ad-lib: to improvise a joke not normally in one’s set.
back of the room: a joke that gets a better response from the other comedians in the room than the audience; a joke that is meant more for the other comedians than for the audience.
bit: a short routine or a section of a routine.
bombing: to have a really bad set and no laughs.
callback: a joke that refers back to another joke performed earlier in the show.
catch phrase: a comic phrase that becomes extremely popular (ex. Rodney Dangerfield’s “I don’t get no respect!” )
closing line: the last joke in a comic set that usually gets the most laughs.
crowd work/spritzing: working the audience and talking to them.
feature/headliner: the last comic on a comedy show who closes the show.
grinding: the act of hitting a lot of open mics and shows to refine material.
hack: a comic who performs unoriginal material and claims it as his own.
heckler: a rude and loud audience member that interrupts the show.
killed: to have a really good performance.
M.C.: The Comedian that starts the show and introduces the other comedians on the show.
middle: the second comedian in the standard three comedian show.
one-liner: a joke made up of only one or two sentences.
one-nighter: a gig that’s not in a comedy club which only lasts one night.
open-mic: a show made up of amateur and professional comics.
punch line: the final phrase or sentence of a joke or story that is meant to get the biggest laugh.
riffing: a comic and another comic interact in a freestyle bit.
ripping: to verbally attack an audience member or comic who has heckled you.
segue: transitioning from one joke to another using a similar word or subject.
set: a comic’s routine performed on a show.
showcase: when a comic performs in front of industry people or potential clients.
stage time: something you should never go over (the length of time you are given on stage).
tag or tag line: a second punchline said after the first punchline.
timing: the pacing, rhythm and tempo of a comic’s delivery of jokes.
parallel thinking: when two or more comics come up with the same bit without having seen the other comics do it.