Welcome to Comedy 101!

Hey there comics, 

(That’s right, you are all comics already. Get used to it!)

Welcome to comedy 101!

PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE EMAIL (Majorly mandatory stuff)

FIRSTLY

  • Club Comedy (328 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112is gracious enough to host us tonight at 6 pm. so please be on time. 
  • It is a full class so it might run past 8pm but no later than 830.
  • Text me if you’re ever running late – 425.760.6514 – SAVE THIS NUMBER
  • Please do not bring any outside food or drink or you will have to discard. There are water bottles for purchase inside the club.

Onto the good stuff… 

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1) PLEASE be on time.

The doors open right at six and we jump straight into class every week

If you show up early, Cafe Victrola (411 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 9811) is across the street.

(I usually hang out at the cafe so I can talk with anyone who wants to ask questions, run jokes, etc. Feel free to take advantage of this as extra class time. It’s also a great way to get to know your fellow comedy teammates and work on bits. THE most valuable part of this class is your fellow comics, and the relationships you make with them)

I usually get there around 5:30pm but many of your classmates might arrive sooner.

Please do not bring any outside food or drink (second warning)

2) Come to class with:

  1. ID (liquor board rules)
  2. Notebook
  3. Pen 
  4. Ideas for what you want to talk about, (jokes, subjects, etc)

and NO OUTSIDE FOOD OR DRINKS (can you tell this one is important)

Now onto the REALLY good stuff…

3) What to expect

NIGHT ONE

  1. – intro to stand up, 
  2. – comedy etiquette
  3. – open mics
  4. – how to write and perform jokes

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“The only way to learn how to do stand-up comedy is to do stand-up comedy. The only way to learn how to write jokes, is to write jokes” 

Every comic ever

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4) Everybody gets on stage every class

At the beginning of today’s class I will introduce myself, explain how a comedy show works, answer questions, and we’ll talk about our favorite comics, and what makes them great. Then one by one, I will call each comic to the stage. 

When I bring you up, you need to introduce yourself and tell us three things

  1. What are your goals in comedy? (Dream big here, don’t be shy)
  2. What are your goals for this class? (specific or vague is fine. What do you want to accomplish this month?)
  3. Tell a joke. (no pressure here and keep it VERY short. No stories, but PLEASE give us at least a lil’ something, an idea, something you think is funny, ideally an original thought, but if you have a quick street joke or something you wanna tell just so you can get that feeling of saying a joke into a mic, that’s fine too.)

After everyone goes up and rips their stand-up comedy band-aid off, we will work on material. 

This first class is like a writers workshop where we all work together on coming up with joke ideas, then we help each other polish them up. At the end of class, if ther is time, we get back on stage and perform our first bits of material. 

Don’t feel pressure to be prepared with a ton of finished ideas. Totally ok IF you do, but mainly just attempt to have SOME concepts of what you want to talk about in your comedy. We will work on making them as funny as possible in class.

It’s normal to be nervous so don’t stress if you’re feeling a bit jittery. That’s why we start with everyone getting up right away. Tear the band-aid off! This class is designed not only to teach you how to perform stand-up comedy, but also how to further enjoy it. We have a lot of fun in this class. Be ready to have a great time.

This is a hands-on learning experience so it will feel more like you are joining a team with me as your coach, than it will feel like you are taking a class with me as your teacher. 

THE BIG GAME is the grad performance and I am here to make sure everyone scores as many points as possible. LET’S GO TEAM!!

Are your game faces on yet?!

I have read A LOT of books on comedy and have even taken all the comedy Masterclasses online. What everyone agrees on is this, and I repeat:

In order to learn how to write jokes, one must WRITE JOKES. In order to learn how to do stand-up comedy, one must DO STAND-UP COMEDY. 

This month everyone will write lots of jokes, and do lots of stand-up comedy. Let the learning commence! 

OPEN MICS

I encourage everyone to do as many open mics as possible this month. They are fun, weird, social experiments and every comic, no matter who they are, has done them, and even the biggest comics in the world, STILL do them. They are mandatory. If you’re taking this class to learn about stand-up comedy, you’re doing yourself and your fellow comics a dis-service if you don’t do mics. 

There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re out there open mic-ing your comedy.

1. DO NOT BURN THE LIGHT! – (go over your allotted time)

Stage time is the most precious commodity in stand-up so never go over your time and if you really wanna make friends, give some back to the room. 

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“Leave ’em wanting more” 

– Old timey showbiz guy

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2. Be organized

Plan your weeks around them, find the sitters, cancel the poker games, do what you have to do in order to prioritize practicing stand-up this month. Everyone will walk away from the first class with jokes to practice, which is more than most open mic comics have, so know the jokes well, know how long they take to tell, and be ready to tell them the second you hear your name pronounced wrong.

3. Take open-mics seriously, but not too seriously.

Open mics are literally the only way to practice comedy before you start getting booked on shows. Musicians can practice their instruments at home but your instrument is an audience. 

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“Laugh notes are best played by the running of one’s comedy fingers across the strings of a crowd” 

– Something I just made up.

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The crowd tells you if something is funny. Not the mirror, not your friend, but a crowd of strangers. When they laugh, funny is undeniable. Another reason you should do lots of open-mics is because your teammates need you to! They have a better shot at killing their set, following your set, if your set, KILLS! So get out there and practice so everyone can KILL!

BUT, don’t be heartbroken if your sets aren’t going well at mics. (easier said than done, but crucial)

It’s more about the practice of it. The act of hearing yourself say the bits into a mic, in front of people. It’s about the process of making edits based on the reaction each crowd gives you, then changing stuff around, adding new jokes, and then doing it again. You’re also not there just to practice jokes, but also stage presence, timing, delivery etc. IF people laugh, great, but if they don’t, no biggie, you practiced stuff and that’s what’s important. There’s always another mic later on, and then tomorrow, and two the next day. You will get significantly better with each time on stage, so the more stages you stand on, the better, you get. It’s easy math. Don’t let any single performance make or break you. Now it’s all about choosing which ones to do.

Here is a list of every open mic in the area and the protocol you need to follow to do them. Let me know if you have questions.

Open Mics

When attending these open mics, remember to always be respectful, and ask lots of questions. Show up with ZERO expectations and presume NOTHING. Mics are fascinating, crazy, fun, weird, alarming, worrisome, adrenaline rush causing social rollercoasters wrapped up into a random night, at some random bar, with the most random people you’ve ever met, and they are a lot to digest, every time. Bon appetit.

Using your best manners will get you far in this business. Ask questions to whoever is in charge about where the light is. Ask any venue specific rules you should be aware of, etc. Focus on your goals for the mic. Right now those goals should be to just get up, tell jokes and get off without burning the light, (going over your time) Laughs are a bonus.

If you get ANY laughs, take that as a major victory, and go do another mic. You’re killing it just by getting up on stage. The more you get up, the better it will go. Keep gettin up and it will keep getting better. The more comedy you do, the better at comedy you will be. I think you’re getting the idea by now.

Study guides

Indulge in comedy this month. Watch comedy specials and one hour sets whenever you can but also watch a lot of late night talk show appearances by your favorite comics. Short sets are what you want to study wherever you can find them. Comedy central lineups, Netflix “The comedians’ ‘ etc. The reason is that a short set is what you are getting ready to do. You are preparing a 3-5 minute set, not an hour long HBO special at the Paramount.

Here’s a beginner reading list: Like therapists keep libraries full of Freud & Jung, many comedians have bookshelves stocked with joke writing manuals and comedy philosophy. While we won’t be using them directly, below is a list of a few resources to supplement your process. But don’t get too distracted by reading – standup is performing!

  • The Comedy Bible by Judy Carter
  • A Complete Idiot’s Guide to Comedy Writing by Jim Mendrinos
  • A Serious Guide to Joke Writing by Sally Holloway
  • How to Write Funny by Scott Dikkers

And another fun way to learn joke structure is by reading books by people who have mastered the process. One of my favorites is the book “You’ll Grow Out of It” by Jessi Klein. I highly suggest the audiobook version, since she performs it herself. Other popular prose by comedians:

  • “Born Standing Up,” by Steve Martin
  • “Thank You for Coming to Hattiesburg,” by Todd Barry
  • “You Can’t Touch My Hair,” by Phoebe Robinson
  • Etc etc etc

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If you can, check out some other clubs and shows too. There are a ton! In Seattle alone there are four clubs with shows almost every night and Tacoma also has three comedy clubs with shows and mic every week. Comedy makes you better at it so take this month to binge and indulge in comedy. You’re in school for this, so you know, if you’re staying up all night watching Netflix specials, that just means you’re a good student! Also, if you’re polite and not presumptuous almost every comedy club will let you into a show for free if it’s not sold out and if you mention you’re a comic. “Hi, my name is (blank) and I love this club! I’m a new open mic comic and was hoping to just get a drink and watch the show?!”

Most of the time they won’t make you pay. Enjoy your free backstage pass. Take advantage of it. Watching open mics is like watching random people work out at the gym, watching a pro-comic in front of a hot club crowd, well that’s like watching an NBA game in an arena.

Please don’t lose your job while taking this class.

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HOORAY!!! (cue “We are the Champions” by QUEEN)

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That’s it. We’re done here. See you tonight. Go back to whatever you are doing, but now do whatever that thing is wondering, “Is this funny? Can I use this?”

Best, 

– Coach Taylor

425.760.6514 SAVE THIS NUMBER

p.s.

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