Who signs up to take a stand-up comedy class?
As a new class starts to arrive I always wonder what face and body fits the name that has registered. Often there is no matching, my name game is totally off. A Jesse is often a guy, a Raj can be a girl, Ashley is one or the other, and sometimes a totally different name shows up that is not on my list, because he borrowed their Mom’s PayPal account and she forgot to forward the email to them about the registration.
The first arrival is a young woman with very short black spiky hair with a green streak on the side, she is wearing the usual fall garb of a big sweat shirt and boots, and her name is ….ok don’t be stupid I’m not going to tell you the names of my students, that would be like exposing the members of a very private club that has paid millions of dollars for a membership.
I will shortly be telling them the comedy classroom is a safe space….this is the place they can do the comedy they want to do. They can use any style of language they wish to use, they can make jokes about cupcakes, vaginas, cats, grandmas, spoiled kids, asshole husbands, green drinks, stratas , drinking too much, Solient green, aging, dicks, crows, and there is always a few surprise topics that I have never heard in the comedy classroom.
At the showcase at the end of the classes they are filmed and their sets are loaded to the Laughter Zone 101 YouTube channel (with their permission) that is when you can see their names… Laughter Zone 101 Youtube Channel.
As they come in to the space, they don’t sit next to each other, they spread themselves all around the chairs in the arc I have created facing the microphone. There is tall a young men (tall for me is anyone over 6 feet), an older woman (older to me is anyone 50+), a male kid with a big back pak, a female kid with a great smile (kid to me is anyone under 40), there are several ethnic groups represented but in my years of teaching stand-up comedy I never assume I know what ethnicity that people are.
This is one of the best nights of the classes for me… the clean slate… I think of myself as the audience and these people are all walking on the stage for the first time… The beauty of the surprise introduction. Or as we call in stand-up, “The Opening Bit”. Their first punchline,,,,, what do I see???
There is …. A variety pack of people…..drinking a coffee, walking with a cane, big eyes, curly hair, bald, hipster beard, Asian, East Indian, First Nations, Filipino, redhead, gay, straight, old, young, black, brown white, fat, skinny, tall, short, muscular, one armed, trans, huge big electric wheelchair accompanied by his grandmother, backwards ball cap, possibly a street person who just snuck in, a bit of a whiskey smell on his breath, ….. and always the late arrival… Usually someone who has got lost on the way to the class, and they get that one remaining seat between whiskey breath and the old person.
But everyone is here…………….the class can begin.