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Time to take Stand-up Comedy & Teaching seriously.

Updated: Oct 31, 2020

In the last post we talked about my addiction, I am a 'stand-up comedy-aholic' and damn proud of it too! - the only 12 steps I need are the ones toward the stage.

We also talked about how teaching taught me to Stand-up and I began to realise that teacher training was great for organisation and preparation of material. but what was missing was something crucial - the craft of teaching itself - standing up in front of a group and connecting ideas with people, and people with ideas.

Stand-up and get out of your comfort zone

Now we move on to talk about how Stand-up Comedy took me out of my comfort zone and answer the question 'what the hell does taking a Masters Degree in Stand-up Comedy even look like?

From teaching I'd learned that learning itself only takes place outside of your comfort zone - so that's exactly what I did - It was time to go out of my comfort zone and take on a Masters Degree in Stand-up Comedy.

Oh-No, What am I Doing?!

I had my concerns, anyone would - you would, wouldn’t you?

Here are the classic ‘oh no’s

  • Is it a real degree?

  • What job will I get out of this?

  • Comedy is subjective right? - how can you possibly teach it, learn it and get marks for it?

What does a Masters in Stand-up Comedy look like?

I talked to the great Oliver Double who ran the course with the fantastic Sophie Quirk on the phone and with a little retrospect here’s my run down:

  1. Yes it’s a real degree, with real credits from a real and respected university

  2. You’re in a group, in a studio, you draft ideas together, then you (yourself) perform in front of a live audience every week, observed by experts and external lecturers (e.g. the 'godfather of Alt Comedy Tony Allen), there’s feedback, recordings are made - they go through them and give detailed feedback, you respond and then you go out and do it all over again (with different material)

  3. You also learn to go out there, book your own gigs, record them, review them, write reports - feedback - do it again.

  4. You also also read theory, watch as much as you can, stand-up as much as you can, produce a portfolio of reflective writing and relate your work with examples of professionals.

  5. You also write a 10,000 word dissertation that has to be academically rigorous, have an informed and formalised argument and show how your academic reading has impacted your performance.

Working out our funny bones in the studio

It’s one of the most personalised degrees you could hope for.

Tons of contact time with lecturers, you're set tasks to stretch and challenge YOU personally, you're responsible for placing your work within the field of professional practice AND theory AND you are

  • reading about it,

  • writing about it,

  • making your own work and...

  • Actually doing it, and reflecting on it all the time!

By the way this perfectly matches Kolb's reflective teaching cycle

But there's something you get from doing Stand-up that you don't get from teaching training

You discover that teaching and learning is a performance and that students - just like an audience - don't just engage with what you say, but how you say it - people really engage with you as a person.

It's about making a connection

when you put a person in front of a room of people, [they] are going to perform, when in this situation bits of [their] personality are no longer necessary and will be dropped, whereas other parts of their personality will aid the situation (Allen, 2014 interview).

Stand-up Comedy is about finding 'your voice'

In the industry it's called 'finding your voice' which really means working out who you are up there - what parts of you...your 'persona' come out on stage and

the only way to find it, is to do it

Stand-up comedy as self discovery?

you must be joking!

Discover it for yourself with these great reads

'Getting the Joke' - Oliver Double,

'Attitude' - Tony Allen,

'Why Stand-up Matters' - Sophie Quirk

Stand-up comedy is more than just 'jokes'

Jokes are merely the vehicle of Stand-up Comedy. The actual fuel is attitude. The secret of Stand-up Comedy is attitude...Stand up Comedy - it's all in the doing of it (Allen 2002: 19-36)

Stand-up comedy is like an apprenticeship in who you are, how you come across to an audience - your 'persona' is the result of finding and using your 'attitude'

This is what a Masters in Stand-up Comedy is for

  • for constant experimentation

  • for workshopping ideas

  • for refining ideas

  • for doing them in a real world context and best of all...

  • it creates a continuous and instant feedback loop so you can perfect who you are and how you connect with others.

Studying and performing Stand-up Comedy helps you to gain the knowledge, the skill and the experience to

Listen, Learn Stand-up & Speak.

next time we talk about the struggle to find authenticity

'So I studied Stand-up Comedy' - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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