Always Be Creating :This blog is specifically for our comedy students, many of whom have been with us for 3 or more years.
Always Be Creating
by Walt Frasier @waltfrasier
When you are in school, every thing has a clear beginning middle and end. Each semester has that first day of orientation, followed by weeks of classes, ending with a final exam. Along the way their are lectures, class projects, homework assignments, term papers, pop quizzes, and major section tests. But by the end of the semester/year there is a clear arc. The next semester may or may not relate to this semester – except for math of course.
If you were to do a play in school, you have auditions, first read through, rehearsals, tech week, opening night and just a few days later, closing night. Then you are left with that feeling of “NOW WHAT?” or something we called in school “POST MORTEM”. It is that feeling you get when you go form intense 24/7 schedule to nothing and you grasp for purpose. As a young artist it is difficult to see past this next 24 hours.
THERE IS NO END TO PROCESS
As a professional every show becomes just another show. This is not to say they are not as special. But the more shows you do the more important you pick up and continue living. Same goes true with your material.
No open mic or show is ever the finished product. The process of creating new material, developing it and performing for a real audience is never ending.
I want our students to stop thinking of each class cycle as a time to create 2-3 more minutes of material that will be performed once on the last day of class and never again.
Instead think of every open mic session as a show, and adopt this process.
Every time you get on stage try something new – EVERY TIME! Never waste a second of stage time.
Before getting up on stage jot down a few things you want to talk about. If you have a routine that has been worked on for a few sessions, outline your work before getting on stage. Collect your thoughts. Maybe you want to work on some old material form a year ago and perfect it. CLOSE YOUR EYES and envision yourself succeeding as a comic on that stage.
HAVE FUN UP THERE!!!
Take stage. Attack the stage with a fierceness – even if your style is to be Steven Wright-ish. Grab that microphone and show us what you’ve got to offer.
The second you get off stage, then take a moment to reflect what just happened.
How did the audience respond to the material? It is not always about getting a laugh. Especially with new material. Perhaps you have not found the funny yet, but did the audience seem to care about your story? Did they react to it at all?
Remember, Open Mic sessions are not the best reads for material. The room is filled with other comics hopelessly worried about their material. So if you get a laugh at a Mic, right that down; but even if they look up and take notice, that can be something too.
DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!
Last weekend a 10 year old comic presented a potentially VERY compelling argument having to deal with Star Wars. The comic was on to a great idea, except the support for the argument literally was “THIS” and “THAT”. A couple things said were just not true. Working against him is the fat that he is 10 years old and I am a 45 year old Star Wars geek. That being said I told the comic I do not necessarily disagree with the basic premise of the story. About 10 minutes on google could remedy this problem.
One of the reasons I love stories about personal experiences and observations is that they are never wrong. This thing happened to you. As a comic you may exaggerate reality a bit for the laugh, but it is your personal story mixed with fiction. There is no wrong.
The second you start talking pop-culture – especially in today’s world of social media and comic cons, where geeks know WAY TOO MUCH about their favorite shows and movies and performers – you need to get your facts straight. How you interpret those facts – YOUR OPINIONS – is fair game.
Same goes true with history and politics, even in this world of #fakenews and #alternativefacts.
When you make an argument for or against a real thing, the facts have to be accurate. You can make bizarre analogies, interpretations and conclusions but make sure your facts are solid.
These days this takes 2-5 minutes (10 at the most) on google. Don’t be lazy.
At least have “alternate facts” that sound real for the sake of comedy. I hate this in politics and news media, but in fiction ANYTHING GOES. It’s just sad that politics and news media appears to be more like fiction every day.
These FAKE FACTS need to be totally convincing. It can be fun to watch an audience scratch their heads and wonder “Wait, is that true?”
Warning: their will be backlash from some, but some artists want that. Like I said above, it is not always about getting a laugh. As artists we have the ability to make folks think and feel. The emotion – laughter or otherwise – is what keeps most coming back. Many like to be challenged intellectually, though. Without the wink, they will see what your doing and love it. Always Be Creating!
But it all begins with process.
- Always Be Creating: Brainstorm some new ideas every week.
- Get yourself to an OPEN MIC or otherwise get on stage as often as possible to try out these ideas with an audience.
- Continue to flesh out the ideas on stage and paper.
- EVERY TIME you get on stage try something new – new material, new way of presenting old material, changing a single word for a certain effect, changing the pace/rhythm of the same words.
Comedy is more trial and error than scientific method, but like a scientist, TRACK EVERYTHING in your journals, so you can make educated strategy the next time you take stage.
Don’t wing it. Always have plan. When that plan derails due to the audience or other factors, let those moments breathe. Don’t panic. Just keep talking. Trust yourself and see/hear/feel what happens.
AGAIN when you get off stage record the good, the bad, the ugly. What worked? Bombed? What new thing was exciting to you and the audience?
The cycle never ends till the day you stop doing comedy.
JOURNALING YOUR IMPROV COMEDY
I focus on Stand-Up with this blog because it is easier to see the process, but Improv Comedy and Acting should have a journal process as well.
Every time you take stage, record the experience in your journal.
- Where did the scene take place and how did you interact with your environment?
- What was the relationship and how did you and your scene partners play that relationship?
- What was your character? Is this a character you might want to try again in a different scenario? Did they have a job? How Old? How was this character like you? How different?
- WHAT HAPPENED? Did you have a strong action choice?
- PANTOMIME? Did you create a strong WHO, WHERE WHAT with your physical performance as much as your words?
- Always Be Creating
Actors can double and triple their time in classes and rehearsals with a few simple journal entries. By taking a second to write down an experience that experience is melded to your memory core. Days,weeks, and sometimes years later, you will call upon this moment to support a new moment.
– Walter @waltfrasier
PS Remember you homework! Start every day with a smile. AS my students it is your job to make the rest of the world smile and laugh. NEVER wait for the world to make you smile. It will too often disappoint. But more of us making the world smile makes for a better world!!!
INTERESTED IN TAKING COMEDY CLASSES?
– MASTER CALENDAR of MANHATTAN CLASSES
Adults Saturdays 10am COFFEE, DONUTS, IMPROV Adult Class
Teens Saturdays 10am COMEDY 4 TEENS
Kids Saturdays 12pm COMEDY 4 KIDS
– MASTER CALENDAR of LONG ISLAND CLASSES
Sundays 6pm Comedy 4 Kids/Teens (Most participants ages 9-14)
NYC COMEDY SHOWS
– TIMES SQUARE IMPROV COMEDY SHOWS
Saturdays/Sundays 3pm (All ages friendly, PG rated Comedy)
– BROADWAY COMEDY CLUB STAND-UP COMEDY SHOWS
9pm/11pm Nightly (9pm OK for most NYC teens, 11pm strictly 21 and over)
Always Be Creating
PLEASE Always Be Creating
Always Be Creating