For Any Teacher Or Trainer Who Wants To Become A Comedian

One of the big epiphanies that I had about stand-up comedy when I discovered the secrets of the Killer Stand-up Comedy System for myself was…

What I was doing without thinking much about it in the classroom to make students laugh as a career teacher (20 years U.S. Navy – retired 1999) was actually stand-up comedy — very powerful stand-up comedy at that.

But I didn’t think of it that way at first and the reason I didn’t was because…

All the books I read and workshops I took didn’t present it that way.

When I tried stand-up comedy for the second time in 1992 (after a 10 year hiatus from a single failed attempt 10 years earlier), I was to determined not to flop like I did the first time.

So I got my hands on every book on stand-up comedy possible and studied them until I was blue in the face. Then, I started writing “jokes” they way you were supposed to do. I started “delivering jokes” like I “thought” a comedian should do instead of being myself.

In the process I completely ignored the laughs I could generate in the classroom or examine the process that I used (without realizing it) to get those laughs because…

It wasn’t stand-up comedy — at least not anything like they presented in the books or workshops I took. I wasn’t “writing jokes” to get students to laugh the way the books said.

I didn’t count my teaching time as stage time because the books said I needed time on a stand-up comedy stage performing stand-up comedy “jokes”.

Fortunately, it only took me nine months and almost quitting stand-up comedy again to figure out that…

What I was doing in the classroom to generate laughs from students WAS stand-up comedy and it WAS valuable stage time — stage time as valuable, if not more so than that provided by any comedy club open mic night.

Once I figured that the dynamics and mechanics for generating laughter in the classroom environment was EXACTLY the same as on the stand-up comedy stage…

I developed 100% of my initial stand-up comedy material in the classroom environment — NOT the open mic environment.

Let me say this to every professional trainer, teacher, speaker or educator who has ever thought about being a comedian because they could generate big laughs in the classroom…

DON’T start writing “jokes” or discounting your time in front of education audiences. DON’T start trying to do your impression of what you think a comedian “should” be like on stage.

And here’s the last stand-up comedy tip I will give you…

Audiences are audiences — whether they are in the classroom or in comedy club. The mechanisms to make an audience laugh are EXACTLY the same in ANY presentation environment.

You won’t read that in any popular book on stand-up comedy.

Start studying what you already do to generate laughs in the classroom environment and you will be head and shoulders above those who are trying to “joke write” their way to big laughs on the stand-up comedy stage.

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4 Replies to “For Any Teacher Or Trainer Who Wants To Become A Comedian”

  1. Powerful. Simply powerful. I consider myself a very good speaker but I no open mic experience at all and I always thought that I might be to late to get all that open mic experience. Then this article made me realise that I have been doing open mics for years! Maybe it was not in a club but I have numerous crowds of people laugh before with my stories and observations.

    Steve, I don’t how you do but from all the different website that I have visited and articles I have read it is only you that has the power to make me think and realise. Steve, you are good at what you do.

  2. This article was very encouraging. I live on an island in Southeast Alaska. There are no Comedy Clubs here. But we do have people. (Strange people-but people) We have a monthly Island Grind (fancy title for talent show) and I speak weekly at my church. I see all of life as opportunities to hone my stand-up skills. Some, like the Grind, I call it Stand-Up Comedy. Where other places, like the church, I use my sense of humor to help people learn and grow by keeping things interesting. Thanks for telling me you learned about comedy in the classroom setting!

  3. I work with the public and considered recording myself talking with people, is this a step in the right direction or am I asking for jail time?

    • I think this is a great idea because the comedy you do in that setting is essentially the same as what you will do on stage. In other words, comedy mechanics are exactly the same in ANY environment. You should be able to pull out a bunch of comedy material that will work with almost any audience.

      I developed a huge amount of the stand-up comedy material I did on stage while teaching comedy traffic school in CA.

      You just need to make sure that what you do on stage is tight, more focused and doesn’t contain all the “extra” information you are required to provide in the course of doing your speaking job.