Working with comedy

by Ian Pike | 1 September 2014

If you tell a friend a couple of jokes you are just telling jokes. If you tell those jokes through a microphone to a crowd of people you are a stand-up comedian

Over more years than I can remember, I have been running workshops for ISTA around the globe on comedy. Partially based on a brief foray into the world of stand-up and followed up by a considerably longer period of my life spent writing sketches and sit-coms. The former being replaced by the latter incidentally thanks to a throwaway comment at a festival some years ago – when a teacher at the end of a workshop came up and said: “You must love doing stand-up”. I replied that I wouldn’t exactly say I loved it but that I did however know exactly how many minutes I had between my last gig and the next, even when they were weeks apart. And that I did really love them after they were over. There being no greater feeling than getting through unscathed and surviving. The teacher thought about this for a second. “Isn’t that just like wearing a shoe three seizes too small for you so you can enjoy the feeling of taking it off?” This pithy observation quickly brought about the epiphany that I far preferred writing gags to actually performing them. However, the combination of the two has led to the fact that I do really love running this workshop and hope to continue to do so for many years to come.

When it comes to teaching comedy it is generally true to say that someone is either funny or they are not but you can bring out hidden talents and understand a lot more about humour through a few choice exercises and games.

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