7 Ways Standup Comedy Can Help Your Auditions (BACKSTAGE ARTICLE)

Click to read full article at Backstage https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/7-ways-standup-comedy-can-help-your-auditions-67827/

Walt Frasier has been teaching Stand-Up comedy since 2011. We find data from articles in Improv Comedy all the time. Here are the highlights of Backstage’s Article.

  • It makes you more dynamic.
  • You learn timing.
  • You can sell a line.
  • You put attention to tension. 
  • You can be your best self.
  • You learn and play with your type.
  • You get out of your comfort zone.

Walt Frasier Adds:

  • One of the best reasons to do stand up comedy is discovering who YOU are.
  • While doing Stand-Up you showcase who YOU are. Casting Director or Agent in the audience know what they are getting should they stumble into your work.
  • Being in the clubs you are networking with other comics, show bookers and industry. The networking is amazing.

I grew up a theater actor. I was trained to become someone else for hundreds and thousands of people. I was mostly musical theater and opera.

18 years ago I landed in comedy, almost by accident. At first as a way to showcase for industry, but eventually learned how to produce and make money in comedy clubs.

I slowly discovered how to play REAL through Improv, which made me much more desirable for modern plays. Through Stand-Up I learned to play myself, which made me more desirable for TV.

Both made me far better at auditioning. But it was the Stand up comedy, including serving as MC for 5000+ short form Improv comedy shows, that made me confident to stand by myself and just do the work.

I wish I had learned this skill earlier. I’ve been working in Theater since 1994, debuting in DC dinner theater. After that a lot of stipend work and a few regional/touring musicals. But like most “actors”, I spent more time serving food and drinks.

In 2002 I fell into comedy, by accident, through my wife’s troupe. By 2005 it became my day job, doing 6-8 shows/week at Times Square clubs, including a few gigs with corporate events, colleges, etc.

It was being in the club that got me my first TV gig, a sketch show, STANKERVISION on MTV 2. It was being in another club years before that landed my second TV gig NAKED BROTHER’S BAND on NICK. Currently at the IMPROV I was working one block away from LETTERMEN when they called me in to walk a horse across stage. I made a good impression and was asked back the next week to ride a bike across stage. In all I was booked nine times, eating a lot of cookies in the green room.

In 2007, I met a guy, who was the friend of a friend of my soon to be manager. I booked my first SAG commercial off my first booked audition through my manager. This relationship led to many commercial bookings and a few Costar TV books as well. So far the big film role has escaped me but a number of call backs have been amazing relationship builders with dozens of NYC Casting Directors.

Starting a Comedy Career During Covid

One might think these are the worst times to start doing comedy, when every club in the world is closed or operating at diminished capacity.

However the time is perfect to start developing your self and your act. Online shows have small audiences but thanks to online platforms hundreds, perhaps thousands, can discover your work online.

Right now, online comedy classes are cheaper. Unlike Theater, Stand up classes are perhaps even more effecting online. We get to focus on things that get difficult with stage nerves getting in the way.

To become a stand up comic all you need is stage time. In my booked STAND-UP COMEDY, I lay out a simple four step process to develop a five minute routine. I also discuss ways to get stage time.

Stage time is the secret sauce. You need to get on stage, or online. Whether in a class, open mic, or a booked show, every moment on stage develops your talent and material.

ONLINE CLASSES

Currently I have a class every Monday at 8pm Online. EMAIL me to drop in your first class for FREE eightimprov@gmail.com

Walt Frasier has appeared Internationally in TV (Billions, Blue Bloods, Royal Pains, Lilyhammer, Letterman, MTV, NICK, WE), Commercials, Comedy (Clubs, Colleges, Corporate Events, K12 Outreach), Theater (Off Broadway, Regional, international tour), and Music (Soloist and Opera).

Books by Walt Frasier

  • Stand-Up Comedy by Walt Fraser is a text book for comics and teachers looking to bring fun creative writing sections into the classroom.
  • Improv on Zoom by Walt Frasier is a list of games with tips and tricks to play online as well as Improv technique and wisdom.
  • Both books are now available via Kindle and Paperback on Amazon. Coming soon to Audible!

How Improvisation Changes the Brain: Creativity = Self Confidence

Science finds that engaging in creativity such as Improv Comedy builds self-confidence due to actual changes in rain function.

Are you plagued by that voice in your head? How many times have you missed out in your personal or professional life because that fear of speaking freely, fear of failure, fear of the unknown held you back?

I have seen Improv Comedy classes turn total stage fright into out going fun loving individuals in kids and adults. I have said just playing Improv Games builds self confidence. I just learned why.

Improv game play gets those happy juices flowing, thanks to the smiles and laughter that literally squeeze the fun out of your face, into the whole body while pumping oxygen into the brain. To the thousands that have seen our shows, I feel bad, playing the games is so much more fun than watching. Mind, body and soul are nourished on another level.

However, improv actually increases certain brain functions while turning off the Debby Downer “inner critic” part of your mind. Reading this article is a major AH HA moment that have seen the actualization of this science.

Here is an excerpt from Psychology Today

“During improvisation, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex decreased in activity and the medial prefrontal cortex increased. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is like your inner critic; it’s that voice in your head that says, “Don’t say that” or “What will happen if you’re wrong?” 

Comedy Classes Online

On the other hand, the medial prefrontal cortex is associated with language and creativity. While musicians improvised, their brains’ censors decreased and their creativity centers increased in activity.”
From https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/play-your-way-sane/201910/how-improvisation-changes-the-brain

ONLINE CLASSES


Saturday October 10 Shows, Classes

Saturdays in October

Come be a part of the show!

After 18 years in Times Square, NYC, with long runs Off-Broadway and at top Comedy Clubs, and touring venues and events nationwide, EIGHT IS NEVER ENOUGH presents  Interactive Musical Comedy  now streamed live around the world, improvised based on your suggestions and participation.

EMAIL us for more info on private events. Check out menu links for public shows and classes.

This class is designed to go past improv basics. Through different drills, exercises and games, we’ll strengthen your improv skills. We’ll focus on improv techniques that will help you build richer characters, make stronger initiations, and raise the stakes of your scene work by making more dynamic choices.

We are very excited to move to a subscription style service for online classes to maximize the value to our students and their parents. Get unlimited access to FOUR WEEKS of classes for just $125. Select the date/time of the first class you wish to attend. See below for current class offerings.


Not ready to commit? You can sign up for ONE class for $25. FOUR classes for $75.

November Online Classes

Quick Links

Improv Jam ALL LEVELS Adults (16+ Welcome)

Thursdays/Saturdays 7pm November 5,7,12,14,19,21

This session is half class and half adult playground. Each session of games is led by Walt Frasier or other team members from the cast of EIGHT IS NEVER ENOUGH.

SIX classes for $75 plus UNLIMITED access to shows (FREE for students of advanced classes listed below)

Long Form Improv Comedy with Sam

Saturdays 2pm, November 7, 14, 21 December 5, 12, 19

Advance Improv Technique with Sam

Wednesdays 8pm November 4, 11, 18 December 2, 9, 16

These classes are designed to go past improv basics. Through different drills, exercises and games, we’ll strengthen your improv skills. We’ll focus on improv techniques that will help you build richer characters, make stronger initiations, and raise the stakes of your scene work by making more dynamic choices.

$125 includes six classes plus unlimited drop-ins Thursday/Saturday 7pm Jam sessions and 8pm Shows.

Mondays 8pm November 2, 9, 16, 23

Registration includes unlimited drop in on weekly shows and a performance showcase slot of your own on one of our cabaret shows.

Musical Theater with Ryan

Tuesdays 8pm November 3, 10, 17, 24

Registration includes unlimited drop in on weekly shows and a performance showcase slot of your own in one of our cabaret shows.

  • Saturdays 12-1pm November 7,14,21,28 December 5,12,19
  • Tuesdays 5-6pm November 3,10,17,24 December 1,8,15
  • $125/session at least SIX classes plus showcase, $200 UNLIMITED access to both sessions and bonus sessions during winter break

Both classes above focus on Improv Comedy. For 15-30 minutes after scheduled hour, students can share stand up comedy routines.

Comedy 4 Kids

  • Sundays 5pm November 1,8,15,22,29 December 6,13,20
  • Mondays 5pm November 2,9,16,23,30 December 7,14,21
  • Wednesdays 5pm November 4, 11, 18, 25 December 9, 16, 23
  • $125/session at least SIX classes plus showcase, $200 UNLIMITED access to both sessions and bonus sessions during winter break

Classes above focus on Improv Comedy. For 15-30 minutes after scheduled hour, students can share stand up comedy routines.

YES! And… How Improv Builds Stronger Personal Relationships

YES! And… Is the #1 rule in Improv. This simple two word governing principal packs a lot of benefits for your personal and professional life.

How much easier would it be to interview for a job, make new friends, interact with co-workers, have an honest conversation with partners, or even lead a team if we could reduce or out right eliminate fears of failure, fears of the unknown and social anxieties such as stage fright?

We daily claim to clients from corporate teams that Improv Comedy will help build team, leadership, sales and service skills. We claim Improv builds creative writing, critical thinking, public speaking and self-confidence.

But how does Improv comedy build these skills?

Stage Fright is the #1 phobia, combining both the fears of unknown and fear of failure. Combined these fears paralyze the best of us and even cause physical sickness and nausea.

Similarly social interaction anxieties thrive in this phobic space.

Improv turns fears of public speaking and social interaction on their head by simply playing games as a team. No one individual is left out to fail. The team forms a tight knit unit that works together to play.

That’s right, we don’t perform, we play. We play games.

We pass words around like a sports team passes a ball. In fact, sometimes we even pantomime passing around a ball.

We start with the basics. We play games that require listening and focus to succeed and nothing else. A game like ZIP ZAP ZUP seems silly and ridiculous, but it’s genius is it’s break down of all other needs. All you have to do is to follow the energy around the room, listen and focus. You don’t have to think. You don’t have to impress. You just do.

Then we add words. We don’t try to be funny. We don’t try to be clever. We just listen and respond. We simply contribute to the team.

Then we create sentences, one word at a time. Eventually we offer entire sentences at a time.

At each step we teach just adding a word is better than trying to think of the perfect word. Any word you say is good enough and accepted. There are no mistakes. There is no failure. There is no judgement.

Think like a five year old. Just play. Leave behind all those things we learned in middle school like fear and judgement.

Also let go of ego, the over compensation for insecurity. Find a space where all are on equal footing, regardless of age, experience etc.

I tell students of any age not to even hold myself, the teacher with 18 years experience as better.

Psychological Safety achieved. The spark of self-confidence blooms. Wonderful things emerge….

Creativity Now Thrives

As artists, this space, free of judgement, free from fear, the brain’s synapses start to fire.

Now that we have relaxed our tensions and laughed a bit, oxygen is pumping in at new highs. The head actually starts to tingle.

Ideas flow. As an actor, ideas about character. As a designer, shapes and colors circle. Even programers start to see new patterns for computer codes.

We become open to new ideas from others as well. Creative collaboration thrives.

Critical Thinking

William Fry, the late great humor guru from Stanford University, states that humor builds a better brain by constantly comparing two otherwise unlike items.

Once you let down your guard, you see more possiblity. You can’t think our of the box when stuck in your own construct.

The world tries to put us in a box, stop doing that to ourselves. (Branding “experts” might disagree lol).

As a team, YES! And… will lead to all sorts of possibilities. The solution to the problem is never found at the initial brainstorm. Too many teams and companies and individuals fail by not fleshing out all the options.

“Never fall in love with your first draft” or idea. But letting those first ideas flow without fear of failure will lead to the amazing choices.

Better Presentation Skills

Most classes in public speaking have it backwards, trying to build your confidence by teaching you better presentation skills.

Simply building confidence, reducing fear of failure and unknowns, opens one up to present information better. Over time you will learn from mistakes, because NOW you are not afraid to make big ones. You are taking chances.

Now if you misspeak, stumble, for draw a blank for a moment you won’t freak out. You can simply smile, breathe and move past the inconsequential moment in time, and find humor and joy in your “failure”.

Also Improv teaches storytelling. Your presentations, whether to a mass gathering or small table of friends, will become more interesting.

Relationships

Both personal and business relationships are destroyed, or never formed, due to these fears.

Many amazing connections are avoided altogether, because we fear the word NO, in others.

Fear of initiating contact could lead to missing out on a valuable partnership.

Great sales people and con artists are successful because they know about the numbers games AND never fear it’s perceived failures. A NO is not a failure, it’s just a NO.

The Confidence to Say YES

Saying NO is easy choice. Saying NO is the lazy choice.

Saying YES puts responsibility on your shoulders. It requires follow through. It requires listening. It requires confidence in your self.

Saying YES puts yourself out there for possible failure, possible hurt.

How many say no at work, because you fear backlash.

NO, we can’t afford that.

NO, we don’t have time for that.

NO, the bosses won’t go for that.

How many great ideas are left behind because too many lacked vision?

Instead, what if you enacted a little improv exercise? Ignore the kneeejerk NO and take two minutes to brainstorm that idea.

Maybe it leads no where, but chances are it leads to another even better idea that NEVER would have materialized.

This vision takes YES AND leadership.

The Confidence to Say NO

We focus on saying YES in the improv world. But it needs to be stated that we should always say yes UNLESS it puts us in physical, mental or emotional harm.

Having confidence to say NO at the right time can save a life time of pain. Too many reserve NOs for fear of involvement but fear saying NO when it will save us pain, in some cases physical injury.

Saying NO to an abusive friend or family member or partner, because we fear being alone, financial ruin etc is real.

Saying NO to a “friend” daring us to ski down that that slope we are not easy for can kill.

Building confidence gives us the power to choose our story.

It’s Not All Kumbaya

For me, YES And… is a selfish choice. I surround myself with, and support individuals that support me. Those that choose to judge or abuse are left out. I give them every chance to embrace, I try to teach them to let go of the old games, but at the end of the day, I get to choose my family.

I experience pain and hurt. That’s part of life. But in between tough moments I am surrounded with smiles and laughter. I have amazing clients that come back year after year. I work with the best team of artists. When I have love to give I give. When I am hurting I have a village of support, now from around the world thanks to social media.

Have the confidence to make GREAT choices in business and personal life.

Start building your tribe today, surrounding yourself with supportive genuine friends buy discovering self confidence and other skills from improv comedy.

HAVE FUN BUT NEVER AT ANOTHER’S EXPENSE!