Thursday, September 18, 2008

Comedy Class

I've just attended my first comedy class. It is truly fantastic! I wish I had done this long before now.

I mentioned earlier that I was to start this class. Up to now it has always been comfortably in the future so that if anyone asked about it, I could say, "Oh, it's a long way away..." Last night was my comeuppance. My moment of truth.

Appropriately, the class is held in a room above a pub. That's how it should be. And what better way of dealing with nerves than to pop downstairs for a quick one. Our tutor is Chris Head. He's already given me tips in my teaching. Chris is patient, explains well, and tells it like it is.

Our class runs over 10 sessions with the last one being a live show before a live audience (now I'm getting really nervous) appropriately in a pub. We will have to perform for 5 long minutes. (Another quick one, please.) We will learn about writing, using the microphone (a very versatile tool, by the way), and developing routines.

The most interesting features include what happens in the first 10 seconds from when the MC announces you. Apparently it can make or kill you. Others are the use of persona and status. To understand these is to take journey of self-discovery. One has to be honest about what kind of person one is because that is what the audience is going to get. Try faking it and they will tell and you will die...

Our class has 12 members including only one woman. (Chris says it's usually more balanced.) Some of them have performed before, but the majority of us are complete novices. We warmed up by discussing our favourite comics and then it was on to the hard stuff.

Chris showed us how to use the microphone, how to handle it, where to put it and how to make it work for you. One way was to get comfortable leaving it on the stand so that you could use your hands and the other was to remove it so that you can walk around the stage. But don't forget to move the stand out of the way or you'll trip. The mike must become our friend; it's our sole means of communication with the audience, so it's important.

Then Chris had us list topics--work, accents, family, music, sex, etc--so that we could each pick one and walk to the mike and talk about it for 3 minutes to our audience. We were introduced, applause, performed, applause, sit down, critique--ouch! It was our first feeling of what it would be like. Chris told us not to forget that feeling. It would be our guide.

Now we've got homework. We're learning how to write our script and it will be something from our lives. And we will be presenting it next week. Nerves again.

And I can't wait. I love it. There's something liberating about doing this which is so different from anything I've done before. I now keep my little book with me at all times so I can jot down eavesdrops, scenes, memories and the rest. Apparently it's a ratio of 10:1 rubbish to good. Sounds typical.
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