Week 3: How does Comedy work?

Friday 19th January 2018

Reading time 2 minutes 30 seconds

I had a double hip replacement in 2013 and the person I was then is not the person I am today. For example I’ve quit a lot of things over the last five years including;

Pain killers 

Pitying myself

Playing the Victim

Quitting stuff I start

Blaming others for me being a prick

My distaste for exercise

I’ve also failed at quitting all of the above but when I do I just quit it again.

Giving up those toxic things in my life feels as though I’m hitting the reset switch. A lot. 

Last year I also decided to hit the reset switch in my comedy and to go back to basics and in doing so I enrolled in a Beginners stand up course as I believe that every day is a school day and I’ve still got a lot to learn. 

I’ve realised that going back to school is fun.

It seems a bit odd, given that I’ve been gigging for a while, but in the past year I’ve sat on a few comedy workshops with other comedians and the feedback I’ve had is that I could be better. A Lot better. I’m also aware of this obvious fact.

Me being me I have taken this to mean I am awful hence why I am peddling back to square one.

Generally in a comedy workshop there are 10+ people and each person has to individually present 2 to 3 minutes of material. They are then critiqued by the facilitator (a pro comic) and the rest of the room (non pro comics). I call them peers. 

As a rule I tend to collapse when presenting my ideas in these workshops but I learn loads and that is why I continue to do them. So with the ‘could do better’ feedback in mind I decided to go back to the very beginning and re learn the basics. 

Don’t get me wrong I was worried about attending this course and last week was lesson one. It was brutal but I Ioved it, to a point……

Beforehand I’d already decided that I would probably be the most experienced in the room because this course was for beginners. Me being me I had also decided that I would be the worst. This became a self-fulfilling prophecy, and whilst I wasn’t the least experienced in the room I was worst. 

The first two non-pro comics presented and between them they had only done a handful of gigs, but both were excellent and the room laughed in all of the right places. 

Little old me went on third and I’m not just saying this for effect but I was awful. The room did not laugh. Not once. Not one laugh. Nada. Nothing. 

At the time, aside from being totally demoralised, I found it strange because all of that material had previously had a lot of laughs in lots of different places. I say a lot of laughs, but it’s all relative when compared to not getting any.

The teacher of this workshop is a stand-up comedian with 20 years’ experience and a person I admire. I often travel to Brighton just to watch him MC as I love the way his brain works. He’s so natural and comedic ideas flow out of him effortlessly. Obviously the effort has been put in over 20 years. 

I liken it to watching a musician performing jazz but without having to hear that crappy jazz sound. 

After I presented my stuff he took two of my jokes, changed the order of the words and the way they were delivered, and the room laughed.  It was amazing because he took my material and he made it good. In virtually zero seconds. I was in awe of him and acknowledged his was a much better way of presenting that particular material.

I got home and I talked to my long suffering Mrs. I explained the night in intricate, and quite boring, detail but in a very upbeat manner. When I finished my tall story she asked how I felt.

“Crushed” was my one word reply.

Good! Was the first word from her very mean mouth, once she’d stopped laughing that was. 

She was right though as I had signed up to learn and to paraphrase Master Yoda “Learning I was”.

Every day continues to be a school day…