So I am a naturally academic person. I gravitate towards books and research whenever I approach anything brand new and exotic. When traveling, I refer to map and guidebook. When learning a language, I grab an audiotape and a translation dictionary. When setting the clock on the VCR (do people even use those any more?), I refer to a manual. I want to be able to put it in my own terms, digest it, and act.
Of course, when entering the weird and strange world of standup comedy, I do just that. I run around and gather information (comedy runs, reading "how to" books on comedy, and asking around), and then put all the information together and create my best laid plans.
...Should I? Shouldn't I? Should I? Shouldn't I?...
During my quest, people (beginner comics like myself), say to me:
"Hey, have you ever thought about a comedy class? I took one and it really helped. You ought to consider taking a comedy class."
Now, as academic as I am, I'm still cheap. And with enrolling in a comedy class, I inevitably come face-to-face with a financial decision: Do I want to drop 200? 300? sometimes even 400? clams to hear someone's opinion on comedy and how it should be performed. Financially, there's a lot to lose. They aren't cheap and they don't promise you anything.
Now there are some staunch dissenters in this highly sensitive argument.
People who dissent say pretty much what I say:
- It's expensive.
- It's someone's opinion. A good comparison is that it's like the practicing doctor versus the non-practicing now-administrative doctor. (i.e. Dr. Kelso on NBC's Scrubs.) The latter is out-of-touch and is not as "up" on trends on comedy as say you would be if you just hit the scene on your own.
- You don't get what you need out of the class. You need significant stage time, in front of real audience, not classmates rooting you on.
...The craft is honed on stage....
- With most academic institutions, there's a promise of networking and getting in at places, that someone who didn't pay for the class would not be a privileged to receive. Again, this is the complete opposite in the comedy world. You're goal as a comic is to network and get your face out there. The only way to do this is to go to those open mics.
- The class is just a suspension in time. You, whether or not you take the class, need to get on stage.
- Again, it's someone's opinion on how it should be performed. They are going to cut out and rework ideas that that may in fact be good and fertile, thereby changing your comedy. Let the audience decide not your teacher. And again, you can't learn comedy from the classroom. Comedy is always on stage. The craft is honed on stage.
There two types of classes that people recommend:
- Standup comedy classes
- Improv classes
And surprisingly, it's terribly one-sided. There is a higher percentage of standup comics doing improv than the reverse. The standup comics need the stage time (not necessarily doing their standup act, but being in front of people helps, too.)
The improv artists rarely work alone (unlike standup comics) and so they are less compelled to separate and splinter off like standup comics would. Therefore, improv acts don't really have a need to take a standup class.
Either way there is no substitute for getting on stage. The more often you get on stage, the more likely you will get comfortable. The more comfortable you are on stage the more likely you are "become" your stage persona more easily. And then your jokes begin to flourish--they'll just flow out of you.
Should I? Shouldn't I?
Should I? Shouldn't I?
So far the tally for comedy classes:
I rest my case.
*+*+*+*IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, GET FREE UPDATES BY EMAIL or RSS.