By Daisy Bard
Last night we had our first night of Comedy School. Seven of us were lucky enough to attend (two not out of choice), and we got to know some great characters and learned a lot.
We were led by a teacher and comedian who went by Mr Cee. He was engaging and funny throughout, and put us at ease but also said he wasn’t going to patronise us. We met someone who, with no comedy experience, has booked an hour at the Edinburgh Fringe this August; we met someone who introduced herself by explaining why she preferred sleeping with black guys; and a couple of less outlandish classmates. But we made up the dominant part of the class.
We each had to do two minutes of stand-up, which we wrote in five minutes. That was excruciating. Thanks to the supportive atmosphere, it was less awful than it could have been, but I was still shaking like a leaf afterwards. Good to rip off the band aid – I’m sure it’ll become easier with each attempt.
A lot of what we learned can be applied to advertising, insight-building and mess-finding. But some had a life of its own. Here are some cool words of advice we received and will start taking to heart in the next few weeks:
From now on, capture everything that’s funny. It’s all material.
Be cool if some bits don’t work. That’ll happen.
People will judge you on your looks, sound and class. Lean into stereotype at the start but then surprise and educate people.
Don’t do this to make people like you, or you won’t recognise yourself.
Even if you get the heckler from hell, your job is always to make people laugh.
Take words off the page and bring them to life.
You’re after belly laughter, not titters. Go for broke.
Take about stuff you hate and why.
When you’ve got something good, build on it. Don’t immediately start writing more stuff.
Be your worst self.
It doesn’t matter where you go in a set. First, middle, last… if you’re shit, it’ll bomb.
Accept the fear of people not laughing. Embrace the fear.
You need jokes for the stuff to work, but connect with an audience. Gags alone don’t cut it.
It’s an organic art form: you have to try stuff in front of people to know if it works.
Never blame the audience. They’re giving you useful feedback.
Like copywriting, stand-up comedy’s a conversation.