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The Mirror: Getting Ideas for Comedy Material Roger Fusselman Pohang Comedy Group April 15, 2007 Cell: 010-6873-7981.

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Presentation on theme: "The Mirror: Getting Ideas for Comedy Material Roger Fusselman Pohang Comedy Group April 15, 2007 Cell: 010-6873-7981."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Mirror: Getting Ideas for Comedy Material Roger Fusselman Pohang Comedy Group April 15, Cell: How can I know what I think till I see what I say? – E. M. Forster

2 Welcome once again! News for today Our new location: Café ID. Meet here also April 22. Today we discuss what sort of places one can get material that can eventually be turned into comedy. Any homework to share – especially (semi-)memorized routines. The usual housekeeping Comedy homework is assigned, but not required. Get feedback from each other about what works, what doesnt. Eventually do a public performance at one of the bars in Pohang.

3 Stand-Up Comedy: The Book by Judy Carter Todays material comes largely from the first part of Chapter 2 of Judys textbook. The PowerPoint handouts lean 99 percent on the text, with little added to them from me. To recall some points from Chapter 1: – Dont try to be funny. – Be brave to express the truth in the mirror. – Dont worry about telling jokes or stories. – Relax and enjoy these exercises.

4 Attitude All the material youll ever need is inside of you. The way to start developing material is to find: – your attitude, – your issues, – and the connection between the two. Good comedians dont merely have funny, well-constructed things to say. They have a very specific emotional attitude. Attitude is the heartbeat of an act. Examples: – Im worried about… I love… Im angry about…

5 Persona Persona – one specific attitude for a comedians entire act. Bill Cosby: child-like enthusiasm. I get no respect (Rodney Dangerfield) Heres something stupid (Jay Leno) Im in pain (Richard Lewis) All successful comedians have a persona. You cant start with an attitude. It has to come to you, bit by bit. Attitude and persona are like emotional integrators of your insights. To be tuned to emotional attitude allows you to generate material that is integrated to your values and opinions.

6 Topics to avoid in choosing material Often these are substitutions for ones lack of material. They do not constitute actual humor. Racist jokes – Put-downs of an entire group insult the audience. Michael Richardss recent tirade – alienated much of his audience. Possible exception: if youre from the group you put down. – Jeff Foxworthy – You might be a redneck if… Express your inner fears rather than your complaints about others. Life-destroying diseases – Why depress your audience? Gross images – Avoid topics that involve excretions. The club owner would like to sell some chili fries.

7 One more thing to avoid Dirty words –using dirty words admits you lack comedy material and that you have no real emotion for the topics youre discussing. Hurt the audience acceptance for Sam Kinison, Eddie Murphy. Exceptions have been highly seasoned veterans: – Richard Pryor (but the profanity was never in his punch lines, according to Dick Gregory) – George Carlin (who actually did an entire routine on dirty words, but did it to make observations about human nature) Use euphemisms instead. If you want to get hired, stay away from this kind of material.

8 Workshop #3: Negative Personality Traits It pays to confess to yourself your innermost negatives. The more embarrassing, the better. Helps to establish your credibility by being truthful, authentic, and convincing. Write them down, and be honest about them. Mine: – Procrastinator. – Tune out people when theyre talking some times. – Pretentious show-off at precisely the wrong times. – Poor at planning life, lessons, finances, future. – Poor at cleaning regularly.

9 What about yours? Write five of them down

10 Workshop #4: Unique Characteristics E.g., a handicap, a strange job in your past, an uncommon religion, something unusual about your upbringing. Write down one sentence roughly the length of a newspaper lead about what it may be. Half-hearted examples in my case: Im an English teacher whos lived in Korea for a while. Im an Objectivist. I play the kalimba. None of these strike me as unique. Dont have a unique characteristic? Judy recommends moving on to Workshop #5.

11 Write your unique characteristics here. _______________________________________

12 Workshop #5: Outer self characteristics. These are things others know about you instantly just by looking at you. These can be positive traits, negative traits, or neutral traits. They do not have to be funny. Actual examples from Judys workshops: Oversized hair, wimpy-looking, 200-pound female with a fresh knife wound on her face. Other examples: Japanese, large shoulders, butch, middle-aged, tall, Black, etc. My examples: balding, red hair.

13 Write two things people quickly notice about you

14 Your inner self What issues are you struggling with? What topics, concerns, or relationships do you find yourself constantly thinking about? What do you hate? What worries you? What frightens you? Carry around a small notebook and write down what you notice in answer to such questions. Dont censor or judge what you write down. Best done in the morning before you get out of bed, when your writing is less restrained. Put a pen and notebook next to your bed. Need coffee? Pack an overnight Thermos full of it and place it next to your bed.

15 Workshop # 6: Things you hate Write down at least 10 things you hate. Be as specific as possible. Hating brussel sprouts is better than hating vegetables. Dont do all of the list at once. Pace yourself. Be genuine. Have patience. Dont think ahead to any act or any statement you want to make. Dont censor. Looks like this: I hate _____________________. (Ten or more times, of course.)

16 Workshops # 7 and #8: Worries and fears Follow the workshop # 6 directions also on: Workshop # 7: Write down at least 10 things that worry you. Looks like this: I worry about _________________. Be as specific as possible. Workshop # 8: Write down at least 10 things that frighten you. Looks like this: Im frightened about _________________. Be as specific as possible. These must be genuinely frightening Stay away from typical frights, such as nuclear war.

17 Have the raw diamonds before you cut them. Next time we will learn how to turn these lists into comedy material, but first we need the raw material. Its much more organic and natural to begin with raw observations that are not yet funny than to craft artificial humor from comedy formulas. This is analogous to writing: have something worth saying before learning how to say it. Do not shoot for comedy just yet. Trust yourself to write down things that you think others wont feel that way.

18 Summary Identify attitude and persona in comedians you see or hear. Stay away from topics that undercut your sense of humor. Identify your negative personality traits. Identify your unique characteristics. Identify your outer-self features. Identify what you hate. Identify what you worry about. Identify what frightens you. Be patient and do not shoot for humor just yet.

19 I hate…

20 I hate…

21 Im worried about…

22 Im worried about…

23 Im frightened of…

24 Im frightened of…

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