The Art Of Stand Up Comedy


Stand-up Comedy Workshop

Relevant worshop sections: ATTITUDE and MATERIAL.

Session 3

The Inner Nerd - (3 minutes max)

Exercise pertaining to Attitude and Material.

The Inner Nerd

Den Levett and I have developed a very useful workshop exercise, which has proved particularly useful in exploring two essentials of stand-up comedy Attitude and Material. It involves standing up in performance mode and exposing your inner nerd to the rest of the group. You just have to go on about something you know thoroughly or have intimate detailed knowledge of. It doesn't necessarily have to be anything useful like 'how to apply a tourniquet'; it can be something you have never given voice to before like a bunch of brief cameo descriptions of all your aunts on your mother's side. The idea is to get on a roll with it and lose yourself in it. On one workshop, we had an actual train spotter and he was a corker. Over a period of three days and without much encouragement he seized the opportunity and delivered the goods. In the initial exercises he was seen as amiable, earnest, honest, pedantic, slightly awkward and prone to bluster when excited. When 'a bit of a mad professor' was mentioned, he took it on board and started performing as if he was giving a lecture. Gregory had never been on a stage before and he may choose never to again, but in a ten minute showcase performance he took a studio theatre audience of thirty people happily giggling through a potted history of Britain's railways on the 12.08 from Kings Cross to Edinburgh (with a 17 minute fuel stop) and imparting more esoteric information than any of us could handle. The curl of his comic attitude - that his serious bureaucratic fa├žade could never contain his passion and enthusiasm - revealed him as intelligent, endearing and intriguingly dotty. We ended up loving him almost as much he loved his subject.

Make sure you choose a subject you know well and give it to us.

More Exercises.