If the audience is laughing at your jokes that's a good thing. So savor the moment...give them a minute to laugh. A common error made by most novice joke tellers is rushing the audience. As soon as the audience is laughing they start telling another joke. If you do that, and the audience is liking you they will shut up to hear your next joke. You then just killed your own laughter, by trying to rush and get more.
Unless the audience is truly hostile, they came there to laugh. If the joke falls flat, deal with it. Do not get angry, sore or apologetic. Don't throw things even if you want to.
At the moment you may think it's the worst thing in the world...but you will live to joke again.
Think Johnny Carson. He was the master of bombing and recovery and that was on national TV. With Carson, the bombing became even funnier by his expressions. He poked fun at himself.
When something you prepared bombs, you feel awful. The bottom line is it's not what happens, but how you react to what happens that will make all the difference in the world...and even in your act.
Try out the joke on everyone you can, but here's the key: do it without letting them know you're trying it out.
Testing a joke is good practice. It helps you work on your delivery, and you begin to feel comfortable saying the joke, and it lets you see an honest reaction.
I use the rule of three here too. I tell it to three different people at separate times. If they all laugh chances are you've got a winner.
Find out something about the town you are speaking in, or the group you are speaking for, or the person running the event...anything that will make your jokes seem as if they are taylor made. Or that you are giving them "inside material."
It can be as simple as making fun of a road sign you saw when driving into that town...it's not that you have to make jokes specifically for them. It's just you have to substitute their area and make it seem just for them. People feel flattered and really appreciate that you took the extra time to get to know them or their town.
Whenever possible try to personalize your jokes and material. Even if you stole it out of a joke book (hopefully you can come up with your own stuff). But if you absolutely have to borrow the "old time jokes", change them so it looks as if they happened to you. When you personalize a joke the audience can empathize with you. When they laugh a bond is formed. They key to humor is making people relate to you and your experience.
Place a personal ad or see a therapist.
All you need to do is define your attitude on stage. Are you angry, politically correct, sharp, insulting, laid back, monotone? To do this you need to get in touch with two points in your personality:
1) What is your point of view on life?
Dangerfield- Loser, Don Rickles- sarcasm, Woody Allen- Intellectual loser.
2) How do you express it?
Dangerfield-he complains he gets no respect
Don Rickles - feels everyone is a jerk and he tells them
Woody Allen- he happens to always have bad fortune