Another form of writing practice

Posted on September 2, 2011

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Learning never ceases. That point has kept getting forced home to me again and again over the years.

I have always like to make people laugh although I was never particularly good at doing it. I was fortunate enough to do a weekend workshop with comic maestro, Tim Ferguson, early last year and learned a great deal from that. Tim encouraged attendees to try stand-up comedy as it helped you learn more about the mechanics of making people laugh. I was determined to give it ago but when the opportunity did come, I wimped out completely. More truthfully, I panicked and couldn’t go ahead with it all.

So that seemed to be pretty much that.

A couple of months or so back, I saw a poster advertising a program of comedy classes targeted at people who have or have had mental health issues. Actually I only just happened to see it among the other mess on the noticeboard because I stopped to use a drinking fountain beneath and tie a stray shoelace. Otherwise I would probably have never noticed the thing. Being a formally diagnosed loony, I thought that was for me.

Apart from having a bloody great time, it struck me that this is really a condensed form of story telling. The joke has a set-up (topic, attitude, premise) and then the gag itself which hopefully gets the laugh. And you have to carefully look at what words you are going to use, how to put them together, the all-important timing. This has become another form of writing practice.

Just as discovering poetry forced me to start looking more closely at my word choices and mental images I am trying to create, so the comedy writing has further reinforced that even more strongly.

It really is a great learning experience, not to mention one heck of a lot of fun.

The end result of the workshop program is a gala performance in the company of other, working stand-up comics. Hopefully this will be recorded by someone and I can post some choice bits to YouTube or somewhere.

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