17Choosing to enroll in a stand-up comedy workshop or class is a personal decision that depends on individual preferences and availability. As with most things in life, there are positive and negative aspects to consider.
Let’s start with the positive aspects:
- Networking Opportunities: These workshops provide a means to meet other individuals who are similarly motivated to become a comedian. This is a great way to discover new comedian performing opportunities and even find potential comedy writing partners.
The Problem: Everyone is exposed to “writing” stand-up comedy jokes in a literary sense designed for a reader. This makes it harder to get 4-6+ audience laughs per minute using only words during the comedy material development process.
- In-class Performing Opportunities: Most stand-up comedy workshops or classes, especially those of extended length, provide in-class performing opportunities. This allows students to receive feedback from the instructor and other comedians in the class. If the instructor is a working comedian, valuable feedback can be provided for the act that the students develop.
The Problem: Many stand-up comedy instructors have no background in teaching, and some have never even performed as a comedian, or if they did, they were not good at it.
- Graduation Performance: Many stand-up comedy workshops and classes have a graduation performance at a comedy club. This provides an opportunity for students to get some live stage experience if they have never been on stage before.
The Problem: Stand-up comedy classes don’t discuss the need to generate an average of 4-6+ laughs per performing minute to excel as a comedian (or more accurately, an average of 18+ seconds of laughter per performing minute). Subsequently, no effort is made to help students build this “tightness” into stand-up material from the beginning.
Now, let’s talk about the not-so-positive aspects:
Firstly, you won’t usually get any actionable information on how to develop a stand-up comedy routine from scratch as it relates directly to you and your unique sense of humor. Instead, you will be provided with academic definitions of what a set-up line, a punchline, and a tag line are. You will learn some joke formula recognition markers that have nothing to do with how you use and apply your already developed comedy talent when you talk with others in casual conversations.
The Problem: This approach is akin to trying to peddle the advantages of a one-size-fits-all shoe. We are not all the same, nor do we express our sense of humor the same.
Secondly, the stand-up comedy class will provide the same old “joke writing” information that you can find in virtually all books on stand-up comedy. These books are a lot less expensive than taking a stand-up comedy workshop or class.
Remember, the ability to produce stand-up comedy material that generates big laughs comes from one’s inherent comedy talent. The best approach is to use a process that allows a new comedian to tap into all the comedy talent they have, the same comedy talent that they use to make friends, family, and coworkers laugh.
While a stand-up comedy workshop or class can provide some useful insights…
Ultimately, it is up to the individual to develop their own unique style and voice as a comedian.
In fact, it is not uncommon for comedians to attribute their success to a process of trial and error, writing and rewriting material until they hit on the perfect formula for their unique sense of humor.
The most successful comedians often have a natural talent for making others laugh, and while a stand-up comedy workshop can provide some guidance, it cannot provide this talent. What a workshop can do is offer a structured environment to hone material and refine a comedic voice.
But, with that being said, taking a workshop can be a valuable experience for anyone looking to develop as a comedian for the reasons that I already mentioned.
It offers an opportunity to receive constructive feedback, to network with others in the industry, and to get up on stage in front of a supportive audience.
A good stand-up comedy workshop will also emphasize the importance of connecting with the audience and conveying a sense of authenticity, both of which are key components of successful comedy.
At the end of the day, a stand-up comedy workshop or class can be a valuable tool for anyone looking to develop their skills as a comedian, it is highly unlikely because most stand-up comedy teachers can’t teach what a person needs to know in order to tap into their already developed comedy talent.
Whether you choose to take a workshop or not, remember that the key to success is to be true to yourself.
But hard work, dedication, and a bit of luck won’t provide you much of an advantage if you really don’t know what you are doing as a comedian in the first place.
So if your primary motivation for taking a stand-up comedy workshop or class is to learn to be funny on stage or to develop a stand-up comedy act that will work for you on an individual level, the chances are pretty good that you will be disappointed in that regard.
However, I can’t really say anything negative about stand-up comedy workshops and classes because the lion’s share of the students I get for my online course for comedians come from folks who take these and didn’t really get any actionable information on how to develop a stand-up comedy routine that will work for them. 🙂