I’ve learned a lot from my stand-up comedy course, after only two classes.
As I expected, the course includes some of the tricks of the trade. Like how to make a statement that’s a setup, and then deliver a punch line. And how to build things up by giving an example that’s true, then one that’s a bit of an exaggeration, and then one that’s blown out of all proportion.
Besides the technical tips, I am uncovering that some of the values and habits I learned at my mother’s knee are a huge barrier to being a comic.
Last week, I realized that hardest thing for me is to admit I find anything hard or weird or stupid or scary. The way I was raised in the 50s, you didn’t talk about something unless it was sweetness and light. As a comedienne, you are supposed to let it all hang out!
That led me to the topic of girdles and the potential for humour in describing them to the pantyhose generation. I’ve started to write my thoughts about girdles and about society’s obsession with having a flat stomach on three-by-five index cards. I may never do anything with them, but I had a lot of laughs putting them together. That, in itself, made the exercise worthwhile.
This week, I was supposed to come up with ten jokes about family members and ten about activities I’m involved in. The taboo I learned at an early age about making jokes about people behind their backs flew right in my face. At first, I was flummoxed.
I managed to skirt around it by explaining and poking fun at the fact I couldn’t joke about my family or about a place where I volunteer. The sketch I’ve written for this week ends with, “I’d better sit down before I stick my foot in my mouth any further.”
I didn’t expect a course in stand-up comedy to lead to fascinating personal insights – to generate life-giving wisdom. By the time the course is over on October 12, I may have reached total enlightenment.
Move over, Dalai Lama!