Introduction: Stand-Up Comedy Easy 4-Step Guide to Writing and Performing Original Comedy Routines
While this book can be used as a step by step beginner’s guide to starting a career in comedy, I hope far more will learn to enjoy creating laughs, for the sake of creating laughter.
Comedy courses should be in every school in the world. There is no better way to find your individual voice. There is no more enjoyable way to learn creative writing and public speaking skills.
In my Times Square, New York City school for comedy, I combine stand-up and improv comedy. In addition to working with hundreds of kids and teens every year, I present team building workshops for major corporate clients.
Perhaps the most valuable takeaways from comedy classes are building self-confidence and sharing much needed laughter.
“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
– Jerry Seinfeld
Whenever I get a call for a corporate workshop, one of the first questions I get is, “Will this embarrass anyone?”
Stage Fright is a specific, and very common, type of fearing the unknown. One of my missions in life is to teach people to overcome fear. One cannot experience joy if always in fear of judgment, or worse. After ten years of teaching comedy this is the number one benefit.
Teaching traditional public speaking to kids that fear public speaking is often like hitting your head against the brick wall. Making it fun changes the game. Students take more chances. Once you get them hooked you can swing around to the technical tedium and terms of writing. Always focus on the fun first.
I have seen incredibly shy, often terrified, students break out of their shells after minutes in a comedy class. We create a fun space to play, free of judgment. We remove ego and insecurity from the equation.
Laughter IS the Best Medicine!
Everyone has heard this phrase used literally and sarcastically over the years. New studies say it might be true.
Before 2008 we were performing in schools and corporate events non–stop. The only requirement was providing a fun show appropriate to the setting: G-rated for schools, non-offensive to corporate parties.
After 2008, when the stock market crashed, every penny had to be justified. We learned to promote our shows and workshops with more educational value in mind. Our mantra was building creativity, community and leadership. We paired with Cultural Arts, Language Arts and Character-Building curriculum.
Skip ahead to 2015, when Google releases the findings of its Project Aristotle, a four-year study into team success. The result of thousands of interviews with team leaders within Google and every other industry (Arts, Sports, Business etc.) leads to one answer.
This changed our focus 100%. It also led to discovering studies into the effect and benefits of laughter.
The following is from the Mayo Clinic:
A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the positive things laughter can do.
- Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
- Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
- Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
- Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
- Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
- Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
- Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.
Additional studies show that laughter in the classroom increases test scores. If you are a teacher, I recommend learning to use comedy in your presentations.
Our experience is simple. Students having more fun show up to learn, including in our after-school programming and residencies.
Principals tell me my students average higher attendance rates in general. They will show up, sit through math and history, knowing that the fun times are coming soon.
In my public programs at the Broadway Comedy Club, Times Square, NYC, I have had students come back every week for years. Most of my teen students started when they were as young as seven. Many of my students are getting national recognition, winning awards and getting industry attention.
I could not be prouder. Creating professional comedians was never my goal. Next thing you know Kenan Thompson named my twelve-year-old student, “Funniest Kid in America”. I was in tears watching all my students that day at Caroline’s on Broadway