Laughter is the Best Medicine

Greg Dean  On Teaching Stand-up Comedy

Hey. Greg Dean, I train stand-up comedians. Yeah, yeah, yeah, okay, okay, I know, I know, how do you train stand-up comedians? Yeah, I get it all the time. People ask me how do you train stand-up comedians. Okay. Here’s how I go about training stand-up comedians. First of all, I’ve been teaching 25 years so I have a technique-based approach. Techniques, I teach techniques. That’s what I teach. Okay. Let’s make a distinction between the craft of comedy and the art of being funny. The craft of comedy I can teach you. I can teach you, it’s just joke structure, it’s joke writing, it’s scene work, to find the jokes in scenes, it’s riffing, “Hello. What’s your name? What do you do for a living?” those kinds of things. Emotional honesty, getting your point of view really, really clear and taking a stance about things you’re talking about. So, we know who you are. I can teach that because comedians have been doing that since the beginning of comedians. So, those are the fundamentals. Then, there is the art of being funny. Can’t teach it, it can be learned. It can be learned through trial and error. You see, people need to be able to get up and fall down and do it wrong and do it right a whole bunch of time. A whole bunch of times in a row to figure out their own comedy voice, and they need the freedom to explore safely, and I give them a safe environment to be bad, because if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly until they get really, really good. My approach is a lot like sports. Take football, anybody can run around on field and kick a ball and try to block it. Want to be a great football player? You learn the fundamentals from a coach. You learn your footwork and passing and the plays and on and on and on until your really good at those fundamentals, you’re drilled on those fundamentals and a coach puts you on the football field and then you practice those, and you get better at them, and the coach is there encouraging you and picking you up when you fall down and telling you, “It’s okay, it’s okay. You can get through it.” That’s what you get. That’s the way I train stand-up comedians. You see, but they have to have a safe place to be bad, and they are going to be bad for a while until they get really good. As a matter of fact, I find the people that take the bigger risks and are the worst in the beginning, are the ones that are really good later because they figured out the secret: mostly what you learn is what doesn’t work, and you got to get through that. So, my approach is, teach them the fundamentals, and then put them on the stage, that’s what a coach does. That’s what I do. The safe place, they have to have a safe place to explore, to be free, to find their own individual sense of humor and their comic voice, individual sense of humor and comic voice, and that can only be attained by giving them the freedom to explore. And that’s how I train stand-up comedians. Any questions? [goat bleats] [goat bleats] Does anybody have a question? Do you have any questions? Does anybody– Do you have a question? Anybody? Do you have questions? Do you have a question? Do you have a question? Does anybody have a question? Oh, you’ve got a question. Okay, I see you’ve got a question. Your question? Oh yeah, we got to close down, folks.

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