What Does A Comedy Coach Do?

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Why doesn’t Tiger Woods just get tips from the other players on tour?  Why does he have a coach?

That’s the question that was posed to me, by my comedy coach from L.A.  I mentioned to him that one person commented that we have local comics and pros who tour through town to learn from.  What could you possibly learn from a comedy coach?

I think in life, it’s commonplace now to take the easy way out and try to dismiss something that you don’t know about.  You can either dismiss it, or ask questions and attempt to learn more about it before forming your own opinion.

I think it’s not a good question to ask, because from that comment you could assume that the backup goalie on an NHL team should be able to coach the starting goalie better than an outsider.  Really?  Do you know how backwards that sounds?

The reason I sought the services of a comedy coach was for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I am of the opinion that some people in the comedy community here don’t believe I can succeed (I won’t name names).  Generally, a team atmosphere, a supportive atmosphere for that matter is one that builds you up, not tearing you down.  If any perceived negative comments come your way, it is to make you better, and it is certainly not meant for a person to take the easy way out and make fun of you instead of helping you.

Secondly, the comedy coach is an outsider, independent of what is going on.  A fresh voice with new ideas.  Besides, if you actually looked up his bio, you would see that my comedy coach has done t.v. work, tours the country, and runs a comedy school where his students get t.v. gigs and paid gigs in a relatively short time.  The proof is in the results, people!  Some have said that his credentials don’t appear to be that special, but think about this for a moment.  The students in his classes have the type of success that I think every comic would like to have.  That is a proven fact.  So why would you try and dismiss the effectiveness of a comedy coach, unless you are scared to think for yourself and doesn’t seek any means possible to get better?

I mean really, whose toes are you stepping on if you try?  Nobodys!  If anything, the other person would respect you for taking the initiative to get better.  As I stated before, most comics around here, from what I can tell, might think something is funny without necessarily knowing why something is funny.  I thought I knew what I wrote was funny, but I could not make it funnier because I did not know how.  It isn’t enough to just say that something is funny because it is funny.  That makes no sense.  Also, the writing sessions I have had are productive, but they aren’t.  I mean, we write down things because we think them to be funny, but very few comics I know of can sit down and tell you WHY it is funny and why the audience would interpret it as being funny.  This is what my comedy coach does.

With all due respect to Dez, he has a God given ability to be funny, and I think sometimes with that, it is something you cannot teach somebody else.  You just have this intrinsic barometer that tells you if something works or if it doesn’t.  Usually people with a gifting that strong cannot pass along the why or the how of their gifting, nor should they have to.  This is why you need an independent voice to guide you, to tell you the why and the how to being funny.

Quickly, can you tell me why a joke is funny?  Do not say just because.  That is loser talk.  A joke is funny because it hits certain laugh triggers.  If you think I’m full of shit, let me ask you this.  Have you ever heard a joke that you didn’t want to laugh to, but you found yourself laughing anyways?  That is because it hit one of the 8 laugh triggers.  Do you know the elements required for a successful joke?  I didn’t.  Once I found these laugh triggers and the successful elements to a joke, it made it so much easier for me to see how to edit my current material to make it better.

The three sessions so far have covered about 4.5 hours thus far.  He has taken some of my core material, jokes I already get laughs on, and rewrote them to make them funnier.  He is also helping me to carve out an identity for myself on stage.  I already have that done, to a certain degree, with some of the jokes I already have.  But he believes we can build an entire set around this.  

He also told me that it is totally possible for me to reach a goal that I don’t believe a comic from Saskatchewan has ever achieved yet.

We have taken as much as 20 minutes some days for a very simple joke, to deconstruct it, line by line, and I mean to really break it down to its bare essentials.  We go over each line, he asks me what I mean by it and where I want the joke to go.  It is an exhausting process at times, to see the amount of work that goes into one single joke.  It isn’t as easy as writing a joke you think is funny, then going on stage and trying it out, hoping it works, and having no clue why the audience didn’t laugh in the first place.

Chances are the audience didn’t laugh, not because you sucked, but because you failed to understand the psychology of a comedy audience, being able to write material that can tap into their different laugh triggers.

To you, that may sound like its a bit of a stretch, but it isn’t.  It is the absolute truth.  The proof will be in the pudding though, when I make my return on stage.  I already got laughs from the material I had, so how much better can it become with coaching?  A lot better.  It will probably take another month to has things out where I have a good, solid 5 to 7 minutes.

Yes, you read that right.  For a good five to seven minutes, it will probably take 7 to 10 hours of coaching, and another several hours of writing homework on top of that.  In the end, it will all be worth it.

You just wait and see……..

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