Monday, April 20, 2009

How comedy can change your life (part 2)

To those of you who read part 1, welcome back! To those who have not, please do take a look at that as well, but do feel free to read the second part first.

The comedy workshops that I put on are designed to achieve three main objectives in an enjoyable and engaging way:

1 – To fundamentally improve each participants public speaking skills
2 – To strengthen the bonds and mutual understanding of the group
3 – To enable people to identify and enhance their creative potential

I like to work with groups between 4 and 10 people, so I can really focus on everybody individually. I begin by discussing some basics of comic theory which provides some structure to start de-mystifying what comedy is and shows how humour can be used to illuminate or to obscure. Some of this material examines what stand-up comedy is not.

1 – It is not about trying to make people laugh – comedy should be predicated on you, not the crowd. Define your own sense of humour and figure out how to make the most of it.

2 – It is not about trying to find what is funny – usually comedy material is written about things that interest you for whatever reason……and you learn to make them funny. Nothing stifles comedy creativity faster than “looking for stuff that’s funny”

After this I discuss how to take control of the environments people speak in; covering printed materials, taking control of room layouts, stage setups and introductions

(for more on this see my blogpost: “Before you’ve even said a word” )

The issues of making the most of lighting and the advantages that can be gained through understanding sound systems are also given consideration.

After this point the workshop takes on a far more interactive dynamic. The participants answer a series of questions that are given out in advance. The answers are given in a presented format rather than just reading them out. This gives me a chance to find out more about the people involved and see how they present themselves. In this section I am able to find out how people move, how they use expressions and body language and how they actually put their ideas together and express them. Each persons’ presentation is reviewed afterwards by myself and by the others in the group, so the insights that are gained are shared amongst all those involved. It’s also important to remember that this workshop revolves around comedy so the mood is always positive, observational and constructive without a harsh critical edge. Having worked as a comedian for so many years means that even the most involved of subjects is granted levity and this makes for a truly fruitful teaching environment.

What are these questions and what types of things can be learned from the presented answers? Well… that my friend, will be part of what will come to be known as “part 3” – stay tuned and thanks ----- please do feel free to post any comments or questions.

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