Sunday, April 12, 2009

How comedy can change your life - (part 1)

Comedy is a mystified thing. When people find out that I teach stand-up, the standard question posed is: can you really do that? It has been said by some that attempting to disassemble and understand comedy is like doing the same with a frog: you cannot capture it's essence and it dies in the process of trying. If that sentiment was originated by a city dweller than it can safely be called an urban myth. While humour is subjective and each individuals' sense of humour unique, it can most certainly be understood and to a great extent defined. I have decided to write this blog-post in order to make clear some of the benefits of understanding how you create and express comedy and how my comedy workshops can be of great value to your company or group.

I began working as a stand-up comedian in 1986, and have had the good fortune to work with people such as Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and Ellen Degeneres and have performed across Canada, the U.S., the Carribbean and the UK. In 1998 I began teaching stand-up and I realized fairly quickly that I was, essentially, teaching people how to put together their ideas and express them in public so I made the transition to coaching people in public speaking, just purely, the art of public speaking. For years people had suggested that I speak on the subject of "humour in the workplace" but I felt no desire to tell people that if they gave their photocopier a name and wore a Hawaiian shirt every third Thursday they would enjoy their soul-draining job. Let it be said that what I do does not fall under the traditional category of  "humour in the workplace". 

The finest joke that humour plays is that is disguises itself as something unimportant; as a joke. It is a most effective disguise, and aside from a handful of theorists and those in the world who simply revel in being positive about everything there are few who gain from the all the value that humour has to offer. Aside the the positive and much publicized effects of laughter and social bonding there is the reality that comedy is an examination, an investigation, a method of understanding the world. If I choose to write a joke about something I am examining the subject in a uniquely personal way and often that examination can yield interesting results. In Arthur Koestler 's outstanding book "The Act of Creation" he draws parallels between scientific discovery, poetic revelation and comic punchline - all three use an original perspective to come to a "eureka!" moment. This point of view flies in the face of comedy as a "joke" and it presents a wealth of opportunities for those willing to take them.

What I am interested in is the idea of getting people to understand and harness this potential for something powerful and productive in life and/or business if indeed, business can be described as something distinct from life. By watching people live and on video I seperate the strands that make up who they are, comedically and in other ways as well, and help to give them a sense of what specifics can be controlled and used to maximum potential. In a group setting there are added benefits that come from  camaraderie and mutual understanding. In the next blogpost I will go into the structure of the comedy workshops that I offer and how they can fit in with and benefit your own situation. In the meantime I welcome any and all questions on the subject ....... hmmmm?


1 comment:

  1. Chris,

    Being very relevant to our subject I added your site to our business blogroll on

    Keep up the great work. I enjoy reading your content
    Best Gordon


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