Comedy Club: Stand-Up
What else, since we're practicing how to be a comedian? Ham! You can thread
cubes of ham with cubed cheddar cheese on toothpicks for a mini kebab. A tall
glass of milk or apple juice would "bring down the house," too.
Rent one or more videos of stand-up comics - but make
sure the material is age-appropriate!!!!! Show with a TV set during this
Print out the sheet at the bottom, one for each
student with a pen or pencil
If you can borrow a microphone and amplifier, it adds
a great deal, though kids need to practice gestures and motions with their
When you see someone standing in front of an audience
telling jokes with only a microphone as a prop, you know it's time to smile.
in its most spontaneous, interactive form is what we call "stand-up comedy."
It's as if someone in the audience gets overwhelmed with a desire to tell a
funny story and jumps onstage to seize the mike and tell it.
course, there's a lot more to it than that. It takes comedians years and years
to develop, plan and practice their routines, polish their "schtick" and do
stand-up comedy well. But truly, if you love to be funny and love telling
stories, stand-up comedy may be just for you.
amazing what a wild and wacky world one person can create just with his or her
imagination and sense of humor! But it does take work and study.
let's get started. Here are some things to know about stand-up comedy:
Stand-up comedy is
telling the truth from a unique, particular point of view - YOUR point of view
-- and making people laugh.
The idea is to make
people "see pictures" in their heads that are funny, whimsical, odd, ridiculous
or silly, but often very meaningful.
playing with the people in the audience using words as your toys!
Here are the different
kinds of stand-up comics. You can rent videos of their work and study their
techniques as you decide what your style might be:
observational comics (funny things they've noticed in
examples: Jerry Seinfeld, Janeane
topical comics (current events)
examples: Dennis Miller, Jay Leno
character comics (inventing a unique character for comic
examples: Andrew Dice Clay, Tim Allen
prop comics (using objects to act out the humor, or
examples: Carrot Top, Gallagher
physical comics (funny body movements, faces, pratfalls)
example: Jim Carrey (before he hit it
impressionists (voices sound exactly like someone else)
examples: Dana Carvey, Mike Myers
improvisationalists (associate unrelated things humorously)
examples: Robin Williams, Paula Poundstone
Stand-up comedy depends
on a clever use of words. If you like the sound of words and like to play
around with them, you have the makings of a stand-up comedian!
Usually, what's funny
is some way that you have felt pain - in a mild and humorous sort of way - and
you're trying to get the audience to agree with you that what you saw was
What you're really
doing is reinforcing what people already believe - just helping them see things
that they may not have seen before, in a humorous way.
How do you get the
material for your stand-up routine? Just live life! Get in the habit of
observing funny things in your everyday life and remember the funny things
people say and do. Your best topics will be things that match your interests
Work with a theme, plan
or outline for your show, and make your stories fit together, but speak spontaneously,
not from a script.
Always be honest and
don't try to pass off feelings and experiences that you don't believe are true,
just to get a laugh. It won't work. People recognize fakes, and that violates
the trusting relationship there needs to be between a comic and the audience.
though: if you feel disgusted, amazed, anxious or exasperated about something, it's
fine to exaggerate. Really let those feelings show through your humor.
Always try to connect
with the audience and talk WITH them, not AT them. Stand-up is not like a
speech or an advertising pitch; it should "feel" like a conversation.
Try to use as few words
as you can. Don't bore them!
Your point of view is
the person you hear when you talk to yourself. Nobody looks at the world the way
you do. Use your humor to draw the audience into the world you see.
Stand-up comedy and
jazz music are the only art forms completely invented in America.
Stand-up comedy usually
has exaggeration, but it usually has some important truth underneath the message.
Most comics seem like
outgoing, confident people when they are on stage, but they tend to be shy in
Comics tend to like to
be by themselves a good part of every day so that they can think of funny
things and write them down. They like to think about things that they observe
in life, and sort out their feelings so that they can zero in on what makes
those things funny.
Most comics have
countless notebooks and scraps of paper that they record their ideas on. They
may not use some material for years. If you're someone who tends to think of a
lot of ideas and if you play with words and like to think of funny things, get
a notebook and start writing them down!
Stand-up comedy isn't
just telling a bunch of jokes in a row. It's humor based on situations, often
from real life. It's more like a one-person conversation that the audience gets
to listen in to. Pretend that you are talking with a friend and saying funny
The key to good
stand-up comedy is to know your audience. Yes, you should say things that make
YOU laugh, but more importantly, know what your audience may be concerned about
or have in common with you, and focus your humor on what your audience would
like to hear about.
It is important to
speak clearly so that people can understand you. Don't talk too fast! Don't
mumble quietly, either.
If people laugh, smile
and enjoy it, and give them plenty of time to calm down after they laugh so
that they can hear your next line.
Good timing means good
pauses! You stop to take a breath in regular conversation. It's the same way
with stand-up comedy.
Silence is a creative
force! If you pause right before you deliver the punch line of a story, that's
called "lighting the fuse." It gives the audience a cue that the funny ending
is about to come.
Keep your delivery more
like a conversation than a speech.
Work on creating a
variety of characters with your voice. It helps to keep the audience's
attention if you make it seem as though there are more people onstage. Give
each character a particular attitude. Mimic, or copy, other voices to add to
your own and show different people's ages or backgrounds that you might be
quoting in your delivery. We all laugh when we "recognize" different characters
in your stories that we know in real life.
Use audio and vocal
effects. Sound effects like a squeaky door opening, funny-sounding footsteps, an
airplane taking off, and things crashing to the floor all "help paint the
picture" and add a lot of humor to any story.
Stand-up comics are
actors, too. Move your body around and make funny faces and gestures to
increase the performance quality of your act.
If you walk back and
forth across the stage, people will follow you with their eyes and they'll be
less likely to "space off." Remember, people's attention spans are very short!
If you're telling a
story involving other people, "act out" their parts as you tell the story, with
body language, facial expressions, gestures and physical reactions.
STAND-UP COMEDY ACT - PLANNING SHEET
Name: ______________________ Theme: _________________________
Use this sheet to take notes
and plan your routine. On the back of these sheet, write an outline to glance
at, if you can't remember the order of your jokes. Don't write out a "script."
Speak off the cuff - it should sound and feel spontaneous.
Remember "The Rule of 3."
Plan 3 stories or jokes with a transition in between each, all relating to your
theme. Your theme is something you've noticed that probably has caused a little
pain but you can joke about it and make everybody feel a little happier since
they probably feel the same.
What's your POINT OF VIEW?
How do you FEEL about this theme?
Exaggerate - expand on your
feelings and thoughts - most of all, be yourself!
Remember sound effects -
different voices - physical movements and gestures - all add humor!
Comic delivery requires
these 3 things: Lollipop! (Louder) Cucumber! (Clearer) Pickle! (Posture)
WORDS/IDEAS/FUNNY FACES OR
ACTIONS YOU WANT TO INCLUDE:
THANK THE AUDIENCE!