January 4, 2019

Twenty-five years ago I got myself an open-spot at the venerable Bearcat comedy club in Twickenham, greater London. I was at university as a mature-ish student (doing Theatre Studies and English) and I’d done 5 minutes of stand-up at the ‘drama social’ event which had...

November 29, 2018

The role of the compere (or emcee/MC) is a crucial one in a stand-up comedy night and the compere has many things to do as the night unfolds. One part of their role is to deal with hecklers . For more on this, see the previous lesson. Aside from that, put simply, as th...

November 2, 2018

Hecklers often believe that heckling is all part of the fun and that comedians welcome it and that it helps them. While there are some comics who relish taking on a heckly audience, most comics want to do their act without it being interrupted by shouted interjections...

September 4, 2018

For this the twenty-second lesson I thought I’d speak to a couple of working comics. To get a broad perspective I spoke to one newer act, James Ryan, and one long established pro, Matt Price both of whom hail from the west of England where I now live. Here are their th...

July 5, 2018

In the last lesson I discussed Set List, the entirely improvised stand-up night. In this lesson, I’m discussing the use of “games” in improvisation - and I’ll consider how improv thinking can be applied to writing material. To recap, at Set List a stand-up only discove...

June 14, 2018

I'd been planning a lesson on persona and inspired by a question from a reader of my blog Ronan Anderson, I have combined the topic with improv. He said: “I'm very curious about your opinion on the place of emotion, riffing and the idea of finding one's voice...

June 14, 2018

In this bumper blog we’ll see pretty much everything we’ve discussed about stand-up writing in a two-and-a-half minute Jerry Seinfeld routine. Yes almost everything we have discussed can be found in under three minutes of Seinfeld. And I'll introduce a new subject - sp...

June 9, 2018

Mark, a stand-up student of mine on my intermediate new material course, asked me to say more about what he termed ‘comedy metaphors’, where a comic finds a pleasing analogy for something they are talking about. So I will! For example, here’s one from from Phil Nichol:


April 27, 2018

Twenty five is a nice neat number isn’t it? It’d be a shame if it were ‘27’ lessons – hence me combining these three topics. I think I can justify the combination though as the first two, rule-of-three and callbacks are the two most common technical phrases comedians u...

March 29, 2018

In the last few lessons we've been exploring transpositions. Let's end this exploration on personification. Also known as anthropomorphism, this is where something from the human world is transposed into the non-human. Here is a personification gag from Steven Wright t...

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