You know when people use sports analogies to describe a business situation-"par for the course," "here's the game plan," or "dude, you just bit my ear off"? Clearly, you don't need to be good at golf, football, or cannibalism to understand and use them. Likewise, you don't need to be any kind of comedian, stand-up or otherwise, to get value from this book. These lessons are intended for business people who have never endeavored, and might never try, stand-up comedy.
A person's regular occupation, profession, or trade, which, if left unchecked without fun, can lead to your soul being sucked dry and consequently morphing you into the equivalent of a stale Ritz cracker but, you know, without all the "cheddah."
The study of professional entertainment or amusement, consisting of jokes and satirical sketches, intended to make an audience laugh, and historically occupied by food service workers and the unemployed.
Applying successful comedic techniques, traditionally used to amuse, entertain, or make an audience laugh, to your regular occupation, profession, or trade to enhance your daily effectiveness, fulfillment, and joy.
Related collections and offers
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.37(d)|
About the Author
Kurtis Matthews is a professional comedian, executive comedy coach and stand up teacher. Kurtis starred in the hit BBC 1 Reality Show, "Find Me the Funny" as well as Season 2 of the Popular TV Show, "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew". He founded the San Francisco Comedy College (SFCC), the nation's largest stand-up school.
For more information, please visit us at www.comediology.com
Read an Excerpt
Why Are You Here?
I've always had a passion to do stand-up comedy because I love to connect with people through laughter. I just never had the huevos — sorry, balls — to do it. Then I reached a point in my life where I officially gave up on that thing that young people call "hope." I called this time of my life the "trough of disillusionment," but others might refer to it as turning forty.
It was through this phase that I really needed some help getting through the hard times. Something that would give me perspective and help me cope with life and that wasn't alcohol, drugs, gambling, a gold chain, Corvette, or anyone who called themselves "Cherry Pie."
This period forced me to look outward for a solution that would, ironically, make me look inward for perspective. This solution would not only help me survive the rough times, but also nourish the comedic fire that had been burning in me for years. The solution I found was a stand-up comedy school. The San Francisco Comedy College, to be exact, founded and operated by Kurtis Matthews, a comedian, teacher, prophet, and friend with a funny walk and too many credentials to list right now. The college was for those interested in learning more about stand-up comedy. I couldn't believe my luck that such a thing actually existed. Thankfully, they took in overly stressed professionals and the unemployed alike. Best of all, they didn't require that you had previously graduated from comedy high school.
I learned a lot at the Comedy College. For example, I learned that my wife liked having me out of out of the house once a week. Oh yeah, I also learned the theory of humor, which, I can say wholeheartedly, did not make me funnier. Anytime I've been introduced to a "theory," it went something like this: "Blah, blah, blah — well, that's the theory anyway." It always felt like a disclaimer as to why they were going to completely mess up whatever happened next. Or, you know, die. Comedy was no exception. And now having learned the "theory," I too was going to completely mess up whatever happened next. And boy, did I mess it up ... theoretically.
I learned how to create material. I learned how to structure a joke. And I learned how to be nauseous and pee at least ten minutes before going on stage. I also learned how to perform. Well, I should say, I understood the concept of performing. With stand-up, no matter how long you've been doing it, there's always room to completely muck it up, so you are constantly in a state of refinement — tweaking this and adjusting that — to master the art form, kind of like golf or farting in public.
When you're a beginning comedian, your internal critic is overwhelmingly observant and judgmental. What you're doing is never good enough, and everything is either over the top or dumb and pales in comparison to other comedians. It's like being a guest on any political talk show:: "No Chris, let me stop you. It tells us right there in Bezerkus 24:17 exactly what funny is! It says, and I quote, Sir, 'Chaka Khan, let me rock you, let me rock you Chaka Khan.' However, that, Sir, simply did not rock my Chaka Khan and is therefore not funny, not funny at all. Sharon told a great joke, she's funny and has a lovely blouse. Joe told a spectacular joke — spectacular! He's funny and has nice jeans. You, Chris, told a crap joke; you are not funny and you are wearing dirty underwear! You are a loser! You need to go home and cry like a socialist."
As part of the class finale, we were to perform seven minutes on stage in front of a "live" audience. Well, like tank lobsters in a seafood restaurant, they were live before our act anyway. As you can imagine, this was a very daunting endeavor. Think about the most embarrassing thing you've ever done. Now, multiply it by seven minutes add twenty observers (some of them still awake) and bright lights pointed directly at you. Oh, and be sure to throw in a couple of "What the shiznickle was I thinking?!"s because you volunteered for this! Do you know how long seven minutes is on stage? Abs have been cut and defined into a perfect six-pack in less time. Death is much quicker and more painless. Even the worst sex you've ever had in your life is 6 minutes and 52 seconds shorter. I know this because I was probably there. But here I was, ready to basically lock myself into a public humiliation chamber for seven minutes. Seven #!@! minutes! What if I died? Or worse yet, lived?!
Much of the stress came from thinking, "Who am I to get up in front of this audience and — okay, let's be real — pretend to be a comedian"? This was worse than a final exam because everyone in the room would know how I did on each answer — immediately. And they would laugh at me. Or, worse, wouldn't. I had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide and I'm pretty sure I had to pee. Moreover, I was all alone up there. It's not like I could drop the microphone, secretly peer over at the comedian sitting next to me, and be like, "hey, what's the answer to number four? Be quick, people are watching!"
It was very daunting. I needed to focus. I needed to prepare. I needed some Valium. I needed to take all the lessons I had learned over the past eight weeks and apply them — quickly. Otherwise, people were going to know I was a fake. A fraud. A hack.
The big night finally came and I was, well, freaked to the bone. I was about to get in front of drunken, raging tigers, and instead of offering them a meal, the only thing I had to fend them off was my material, which basically amounted to some skin, bones, and big '80s hair — kind of like Richard Simmons on a stick. I was rethinking the whole thing. I knew it was possible, I just didn't know if I could do it. I had been watching the other comedians perform and they'd made the audience laugh. They had done it. Couldn't I?
The week before my performance had been all about memorization. I told my jokes over and over in my mind and had them down pat. I also practiced the delivery repeatedly to where I had just the right incantations, inflections, and timing. I tirelessly asked my wife, "Is this one funny? Is that one funny?" I literally did this right up to the point where I got up on stage. No, I mean literally. I was asking people for feedback minutes before my performance. After numerous iterations, however, people were like, "Dude, I can't listen to your bullshit again." In her defense, that Walmart greeter was having a rough day.
I was finally introduced by the host and I started walking up on stage. I saw things in tunnel vision. The last thought I had before grabbing the microphone was, "Dear God, please don't let me forget my material. In return, I promise to never carelessly put my used Dixie cup in the compost bin again ... errr, unless that's the bin it goes in, and — oh yeah, that whole impure thoughts thing, ugh, never mind."
I stepped up on stage and shook the host's hand. At least I hoped it was his hand. One of the first things you notice while being on stage is the lights. They are overwhelmingly bright and they shine directly on you. Apparently, lots of light is needed during deliveries, whether that delivery is a baby or comedy. Akin to prison, it also serves as a reminder — "Z'er is no iscape ... Mwahahahah!" Oh, and now you know why Donald Trump is orange.
I grabbed the microphone and started talking. I could hear my voice start to crackle and shrink like MC Hammer in 1992 (feel free to look him up). I was completely focused on my material and presented it just as I practiced. It was very similar to my rehearsals. In fact, the only real differences that I noticed was that it was ten times faster, had no pauses, and, oh yeah, wasn't funny. The imaginary audience I had prepared with were so much more appreciative and in tune with good comedy than this bunch of hostages. As a result, I received the worst sound ever. The same sound I got when I professed my feelings of true love to Jenny in middle school — silence. Well, almost. At least in Jenny's case, she had the decency to return from staring off into space with a "Hmmm ... hey, you got mustard on your chin."
After I was done with my verbal spewing, I walked down off the stage and quickly looked for a place to hide, like a bathroom stall or Inner Mongolia. I couldn't go too far, though. I had brought friends and family to the event, so I had to make a reappearance after the show. Once reunited with them, I didn't say much and neither did they. I was embarrassed, and they were embarrassed for me, which is way worse than just being embarrassed by yourself. Misery loves company. Embarrassment, on the other hand, just isn't ready for a relationship right now. The only thing worse than the silence was the consolation, "Hey, at least you tried really hard." Which is kind of like saying, "Wow, you really sucked balls up there, but you had sweat rings so we could tell you wanted to do better." I was kind of hoping someone from the audience would walk up, put their arm around me, and say "Well, at least you don't have Ebola." It would have hurt but it would have been a funnier thing to put in a book than what had actually happened.
I went home and swore I would never do comedy again. Actually, they were two separate events. First I swore, then I swore I would never do comedy again. I know, it's a lot of swearing (sorry gals, I'm taken). But stand-up is one of those things you have to do. Otherwise, why would anyone do it in the first place? For whatever reason, we comedians choose to put ourselves in a situation where people judge us, and often we fail. Maybe we are reincarnated souls from the Salem witch-burning era and apparently just can't get enough of the good ol' days.
This went on for several of my sets. After many silent audiences later, my instructor Kurtis asked me a simple question: "Chris, why are you doing this?"
Although thought provoking, this question was decidedly not a confidence booster. I responded, "Well, I just want to have fun and connect with people."
He responded, "Then why aren't you doing that?"
My first inclination was to get defensive: "But ... wait, you told me to follow the joke theory! And ... I shared each and every one of my jokes with you before I told them onstage and embarrassed myself. Why didn't you say anything then?! This is all your fault! You made me look like a fool! I'll never get back to Kansas now, never!"
Yes, I let my "victim" have his day in the sun. I call him "Vic." He's angry with you. He's angry with everyone. "How could you do this to him?! What's that? You don't even know him? Well then, how could you abandon him like this?! Oh, you were with him all along? Well, then quit limiting his potential!" He could do this all day long. ...
After many Wayne Dyer books later, I finally realized Kurtis was right. I had been so focused on the mechanics of joke telling, or the what, I had forgotten why I was there in the first place. Getting on stage wasn't fun for me. In fact, it was a terrifying and horrific experience. I realized I wasn't allowing myself the freedom to be me. I had limited my abilities to a joke-telling methodology. Moreover, I had measured success by comparing myself to others. This type of comparison was never good for my ego in the gym locker room, so why would it be any different now? Oh, and just for the record, on senior citizen discount day, I am the undisputed king.
And where was I in all this equation? I was a watered-down version of myself. I had given up all my spunk, spark, and passion for guides and judgment that were completely outside of me. But what about my joy? My direction? And my "why" — the whole reason I was up there in the first place?
Could I change the rules?
I had to rethink this. No, I had to re-feel this. It sounded crazy and a little bit scary to deviate from the methodology used by the "pros," but I needed to change it up. I truly believed I had the funny within me. Besides, how much worse could it get? I mean, really. My act was about as funny as a dead canary floating atop a bowl of tomato soup.
I decided to change three things. First, I decided to be present and have fun. No matter what happened, I was going to find joy being on stage. If I hit it out of the park, of course it would be fun. But even if I bombed, I would still find the joy.
How could I do this? Actually, this part was simple. You see, probably just like everyone else, when I experience funny, I both think and feel the humor at the same time. It brings me joy inside and makes me laugh and want to share it. This I do naturally, so bringing it to the stage was a no-brainer.
So why wasn't I doing this all the time? For some reason, I erroneously traded in the thought and feeling of funny for a joke framework. It was like trying to make people laugh while trapped inside an aquarium. Furiously pounding on the glass, I would yell at the top of my voice trying to win them over. "I'm funny! Can't you people see that?! Why aren't you laughing?! Wait, don't look at him, he's a lobster! I'm way funnier than a shellfish!" But to no avail. Uninterested and perhaps a little confused, they would pass on by, commenting, "Well, the steaks are good here anyway." I don't know if you've ever been figuratively bested by a caged crustacean. But I can tell you, it makes you really take a good look at your life. Put simply, I changed my approach immediately. And the interesting thing is, it didn't take a lot of work. All I really had to do was just be the way I normally would be. I simply brought my comedic flow to the stage — thinking, feeling, and speaking the funny that naturally comes from within me. That, and I left the hairpiece at home. Regardless of the words, I would tap into the essence of the funny. Why did I decide to bring a particular joke up? Oh yeah, 'cause it makes me laugh and I can't wait to share it with other people!
I even adjusted my performance-evaluation criteria. My new metric was simply, "If I got up on stage and had fun, then I was successful." That's it. I would remove the "laugh-a-meter" measurement and stop comparing myself to others. I would just have fun, plain and simple.
Second, I chose to connect with people. To me, this is fun in and of itself and so much more joyful than "data regurgitation." Previously, my thought right before getting on stage was, "Don't forget the material." And yet Tony Robbins never asked me to join his team — can you believe that?! Now, however, my last thought before the stage is, "Be present, connect with people, and have fun." All we have is time, Tony, I'll be waiting. Okay, testing Valium perhaps, but waiting just the same. ...
Finally, I decided to trust myself. I fired my internal methodology critic and, effective immediately, promoted myself to "Owner and CEO." I, alone, would decide what was funny. I would determine what was in and what was out. Success or failure would be based on my decisions and my criteria, not by a lifeless methodology or some alcohol-saturated knucklehead who refers to himself as "The Josh." "Hey, The Josh wants another beer and doesn't think that last joke was funny." Yes, these people actually do exist. Run fast and lock the door behind you.
The big night finally came ... again. Only this time, I would go it alone and be, well, just me. I bade a fond farewell to SpongeBob and my caged lobster friends, and I was off on my new adventure.
It's funny. Even before I got on stage I was connecting with people. I wasn't a dumbed-down, half-vacant memorization machine verbalizing my script for the night. I was a fun and engaging individual, also known as a present human being. I was winning even before I got on stage. Okay, well let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. That said, I wasn't a walking methodology. I wasn't bitterly comparing myself to others. And, I was just one phone call away from saving 15 percent or more on my car insurance.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Comediology"
Copyright © 2018 Chris S. Tabish with Kurtis Matthews.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Why Are You Here?, 1,
Why Comedy?, 17,
You've Got to Feel It to Make Them Believe It, 45,
Competition versus Creation, 79,
Feedback. It's Not about You. No, Really Though, 109,
Less Is More, 121,
Finding Your Voice, 129,
About the Authors, 151,