March 22, 2018

In the previous lesson we discussed transpositions. We’re going to develop this idea and look at a common comic effect that can be achieved through such transpositions: bathos. We have already discussed the simple form of this: essentially build it up/ knock it down. T...

March 16, 2018

In the previous lesson I discussed the importance of going beyond what actually happened, and going into playful speculation. In your stand-up, don’t just talk about things you actually know about. Speculate about things you don’t! This can be a big part of the funnine...

March 10, 2018

Comedy, and all creativity, begins with questions. What takes you into comic territory, rather than literary or dramatic territory, is that your answers are absurd. In stand-up writing we are asking questions and coming up with playful answers. This is effectively play...

March 2, 2018

A stand-up will send me a video of their set and I will watch it, meeting them subsequently to discuss my observations on their material and performance, and how both might be improved and developed. One of the key areas I am looking for in performance is, as you might...

February 23, 2018

How do you write one-liners? It all starts with words and phrases the comic encounters (or seeks out) in life. One approach to turning a phrase into a one-liner is misdirection which we explored in lesson 8. Misdirection jokes work on the ambiguity of phrases. Typicall...

February 16, 2018

There’s a problem with true stories in a stand-up context. The long set-up followed by the quick payoff is often the form that anecdotes take; they have this in common with the ‘shaggy dog story’ type of joke. It’s like we learned in the playground at school, and the f...

February 10, 2018

In 2007 I interviewed Richard Herring in a Caffe Nero in Hammersmith for the short-lived comedy magazine The Fix. I’d recently seen him perform and was struck by an extended dialogue he performed between an elderly couple consigned to a bonfire. (Yes really). This took...

February 2, 2018

Let’s zoom in and look more closely at a technique I mentioned in the last lesson: misdirection. I would unconsciously have laughed at misdirection for years, but I first became consciously aware of it watching Have I Got News For You in the 90s. (A formative decade fo...

January 26, 2018

Now we've explored the wider context — the writing process and, starting the gig itself — let’s get stuck into the nitty-gritty, starting with the basic comic rhythm: set-up/payoff. Set-up/ payoff is the basic comic rhythm. I was a huge fan of Not the Nine O’ Clock New...

January 19, 2018

Having discussed bespoke material for the gig in the last lesson, I'm going to begin this lesson with the physical practicalities of starting a set and then we'll move onto getting into your material.

First up, come on with pace and energy, so it's clear you want to be...

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