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
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EIGHT IS NEVER ENOUGH Artistic Director, Walt Frasier, has transcribed his Stand-Up Comedy course into a new text book. Dedicated to his students and all lovers of comedy. this book takes you from zero to five minute routine in four easy steps. Also learn about getting stage to you need to develop as a comic.
Featuring a FORWARD by the funniest kid in America
I wasn’t born a comedian. Though I spent many of my 13 years
on this planet trying to find where I fit in, I don’t want this to sound like a
cheesy finding-my-place story; so I’m just going to tell it like it is. I tried
everything before comedy (yes, everything). I did violin, guitar, sewing,
singing, robotics, taekwondo, tennis, and even soccer for a hot minute. But
everything I did, I got bored of. I didn’t want to practice chords or kicking
with the inside of my foot. You can probably imagine this wasn’t making my
parents too happy; honestly, they were getting pretty desperate, and my dad
didn’t want to waste any more money on weekend activities. So, in the last week
of one long summer, my mom had run out of options for me. Instead of keeping me
at home for a week of relaxation like I wanted, she stuck me in the basement of
The Broadway Comedy Club in Walt Frasier’s improv/standup camp Improv4Kids. Walt’s camp was the only one still open that
late in August. Keep in mind, I was about eleven, and there was a bar right
down the hall. And yet that’s when it happened; in that one week alone, my
yearning for performance could not be satisfied in five days; and, lucky me,
there were Saturday and Sunday comedy classes that started in the fall, so I
immediately knew where I would be every weekend.
Being in Walt’s class, you never know what to expect, never
know what games you’re going to play, or even when you’re going to crack your
next joke. The most important thing you have to do, or bring, rather, is your
energy (never leave that at home). Energy is key when it comes to improv;
without it, scenes fall flat, and they’re not as structured or fun as they
could be. The thing about class with Walt is no one is ever pressured to
perform at all. You’re never pulled up on stage or forced to be in a game;
there’s free choice for everyone to do what makes them feel comfortable. I
never felt like I had to be anyone/anything because performance is about
finding yourself and your style…then run with it! If anything, you have to be
more of YOURSELF.
Walt has a tendency to ramble a bit, but when he does, most
of the stuff he says can be super crucial to perfecting your craft. For
example, every morning, Walt tells us to smile. Not only does it wake your body
up by stretching your face around, but chances are fake smiling might make you
“real” smile. Being in a better mood will 100% boost your energy, which you
know you need in order to be at your best. To quote one of my favorite Walt
mottos, “Treat every rehearsal like a performance and every performance like a
rehearsal.” In other words, bring confident energy to rehearsals and your
playful spirit and ease to performances.
Unfortunately, I’ve come to the end of this Forward…I
know, I know, I’d love me to write forever, too, but to finish I thought I’d
add why you should read this book. I can tell you, it’s jam packed with great
advice on how to critique and better yourself (in terms of performance) that I
hope will inspire you to step out of your comfort zone, help you to get just
one more laugh, or maybe even make you chuckle at some of the stories.
(If you’re still here, after this Forward thing, thank you!)
(An 8th grader living in Manhattan, Carolyn is the Winner of Kenan Thompson’s Ultimate Comedy Experience 2019— “Funniest Kid in America”)