Lesson 20: Persona & Improv

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. Comedians seem to develop authentic material quickly and intuitively by listening to their heart and applying emotion to a topic. For example, Billy Connolly didn't write things down, Bill Burr says he just riffs on themes, Dara O'Briain says jokes come to him fully formed once he's taken a comedic stance on something whereas Brian Regan comes at things from a place of 'exaggerated immaturity.' It seems that they all develop material a

Lesson 19: Analysing Seinfeld's Cab Drivers routine

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 - speaking in first, second, or third person. The routine in question is 'Cab Drivers'. Here it is in the HBO TV version of "I'm Telling You For The Last Time". There is a lot that makes it effective. There are all the technical touches we are to unpack and also his persona, the shared references, the rightness of his observations, his skill as a performer, his timing, his persona, his rapport with his audience... But underlying a

Lesson 18: Comic Analogies

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: “If you can’t go into an Irish bar and get into a conversation that’s like being a special needs kid going to summer holiday camp and not getting a hug.” This is an ‘analogy’ or as I often say an ‘is like’. Notice that in Phil Nichol’s case he makes it an attacking statement which gives it more comic energy. It’s often the case that these analogy jokes have a bit of venom to them. Frankie Boyle is brilliant at venomous ‘is lik

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