What's the secret of comedy timing?
Sorry, let's try that again:
What's the secret of comedy?
Or is it? And ok - that was a joke that may not have worked so well on paper, but last Sunday myself and my good ole friend Argent (still going despite her lack of activity online) decided to find out.
It all started a few months ago when I had a text from the aforementioned Blog absconder saying there was a Stand Up Comedy workshop at a local University - AKA Mega City because it is now almost bigger than the City to which it gives educational service (there are, in fact, two major universities in our neck of the wood which are both growing so exponentially that thermonuclear war is seemingly inevitable and Historians of the future, should there be a future, will no doubt curse us for not stopping that "Physics Lab" being erected)
Now I should say at this juncture that it is unusual to find any evidence of Culture in these parts - it's like that scene in An American Werewolf In Paris where the tourist walks into the local pub and all eyes turn towards him and Brian Glover says "we don' loike strangurs 'round 'ere". Culture dare not step over the boundary lines of our noble city incase it gets mugged.
The exception being, of course, at the University Arts Centre where they show French ROad Movies About the Grimness of Existence (or F.R.O.M.A.G.E. for short), have some of the major comedians of the land visit, the occasional small-scale concert and even, it is rumored, teach the occasional student something.
We started the day by playing Rock - Paper - Stone as an ice breaker - each time you won you evolved from Egg to Chicken to Pterydactyl to Super Hero and could only play someone else at the same level (I was pleased when one person asked me if i wanted to play the Lizard - Spock version, but turned them down - and also that I was able to maintain Super Hero level quite a long time by the simple step of always playing paper second if there was a draw first time)
Then we were asked to write down one thing we loved and three things we loved about it and tell this to a small sub-section of the group in the space of one minute.
Having done so we then had to write down one thing we loathed and three things we hated about it and (and here comes the twist) use those points to say why we loved it. This was a very interesting excercise as it forces your brain to work in a more creative and unusual way: looking at things from a different perspective. It was also to show how much more people listen when you are clearly arguing something ludicrous for comic intent
Other excercises followed which included (in no particular order): going up to the mike and introducing ourselves and choosing one of three subjects to speak on (I chose "my favourite teacher" but i can't remember the other two options) - immediately after which we had to go back up to the mike and recite (note - NOT sing) a song lyric as if it were the most important thing ever. This was designed to make us feel more comfortable with the mike and to use expression.
Another really interesting excercise was to take a random piece of news from the internet (just chosen randomly based on the number of hits) and to write down as a group how many funny things we could think of about each paragraph - we had a list of 13 jokes (some funnier than others) from the first paragraph alone.
The chap running the course was himself a stand-up comedian with over 1,000 gigs under his belt who frequently lectures on public speaking and he was very clear on the ups and downs of life as a comedian - saying that for every 100 jokes you wrote maybe only 10 would be worth trying out and 4 would actually make it to the set-list, and that with the loss of comedy clubs its now harder for comedians to get going without giving material away for free (via podcasts/youtube etc) and that jokes have an increasingly short lifespan due to the internet.
Finally we were sent into a corner in groups of 3-4 and told to write a brief routine (I chose playing the saxophone and Argent talked about the lord of the rings) and come and perform it, if we wanted, for the rest of the group. I was quite pleased with my response as it gained a few laughs (but then i am aware that i tend to use humour as a defense mechanism anyway)
He does another course - a 10 week course that tells you how to develop material and your act. It's not cheap and it's not nearby, but I am thinking of going: especially as there's a chance to take part in a live comedy showcase at the end.
Not that I particularly want to be a comic. I'm just creative in lots of random and unfocussed ways: plus it would be good for my public speaking group.
But I feel I should leave you with a joke - not a very good one, but one that I penned myself
There's a new Detective Show being made about a Cop who loves blue French cheese
It's called The Roquefort Files
(badum tish, here all week folks, try the fish)