After a couple of times on stage, I’ve begun to notice delivery is almost as important as the quality of the joke itself. I performed a bit that I had previously run by a few friends a couple of different times, and every time I got a positive response. When I performed the bit on stage, I didn’t get much of a response at all. When I listened to the bit later, it sounded flat. I will have to try it again later to see if I get a better response with better delivery.
I’ve noticed delivery to be important watching professional comics too. I heard a bit by Jerry Seinfeld streaming on Pandora maybe a week or two ago, and it was a bit I had heard performed on the sitcom Seinfeld. I love this bit, and Seinfeld was a major influence on me to begin doing comedy in the first place. However, during the bit playing on Pandora, Jerry just seemed to be telling the joke without the enthusiasm he had for his TV show. It really took something away from the joke, and suddenly it wasn’t that funny anymore.
Delivery turns that joke from an okay joke to a great one.
I imagine this is why new comics are told to get on stage as much as possible. Telling a great joke awkwardly won’t be that funny, buy an okay joke with great delivery will get a lot more laughs. Obviously the idea is combining a great joke with great delivery, and that comes in time.