Stand up comedy class, here I come!
As a birthday gift to myself I decided to improve my comedic writing by enrolling in a stand up comedy class. Though I am an author and screenwriter with no intention of becoming a stand up comic, I am the sort of risk taker that’s willing to try anything once. I’ve taken directing classes, screenwriting classes, acting classes, ballet classes, swimming classes and tap dancing classes. I don’t want to go too far back into my childhood, but I’m a world class, class taker.
So, helmed with my Groupon coupon and a good attitude, I drove over to Burbank and participated in a solid 5 week comedy class with two instructors who swore I’d be ready to perform in a real comedy club by the end of the classes. I don’t know if I’ll feel like Kevin Hart or Tiffany Haddish when the curtain rises, but these are 5 things I learned about life while taking a stand up comedy class:
1. Comedy is harder than it looks.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a stand up comedy special and thought, “These comedians have it easy. They just go up there and talk smack.” Oh, talking smack is harder than it looks. You have to be able to talk smack in a way that people find humorous. Realizing how hard comedy is made me reflect about life as well. Are there other things in life that I discount as easy but must be really difficult? I think so. Maybe being a cashier is harder than it looks or being a chef or being an Uber driver. The point is: if comedy is harder than it looks, other things in life must be harder than they look as well. Note to self: Don’t hate on people who you think have it easy.
2. You have to be strong to look inside yourself.
You have to be even stronger to look inside yourself and laugh. Our first assignment in comedy class was to write a biography about ourselves. The point was to look inwardly to find our hurts, pains, experiences and to laugh about them. As my classmates and I shared interesting aspects about ourselves, it was easy to see how many of us were hiding. It made me realize that in order to strive in life, I have to be strong and embrace who I am as well as who I’ve been. There’s a wonder woman inside of me and I’m letting her out.
3. You’re not as interesting as you think you are.
It was humbling to sit in class and have classmates who had relatives who were blood thirsty dictators, classmates who were proud college drop outs, classmates who refused to take traditional paths to define their lives. Sitting in a class with people who were rebels in their own way made me want to live my life a little more fearlessly. This class reminded me that I could.
4. Every life has some kind of potential in it.
I grew up and was often told that you had to go to college, you had to date a certain kind of person, get married, have a certain number of kids, and live a certain kind of way in order to be successful. Watching my classmates and my instructors reminded me that life is full of choices—good choices and different choices. Happiness is not found simply by following the script that someone else gave you. Happiness is about writing your own script and living life by your own rules.
5. Depression is a national epidemic.
I didn’t attend comedy class and learn that depression affects comedians. I learned that in spite of dealing with depression, people go out and try to be funny anyway. In our small class, depression, anti-depressants and coping methods all became a topic of discussion. Yes, in a stand up comedy class. It may seem depressing and it should, a bunch of people sitting around trying to be funny were talking about how depression impacted their lives. Sorry, comedy instructor, that’s not funny. This nation needs to invest more research on preventing depression and healing people who are suffering.
I’m convinced every experience is what you make it and I’ve made the best of my comedy classes. Today, I rehearsed my entire routine and unexpectedly and out of sheer spontaneity I did the moonwalk off the stage. My classmates clapped for me. My heart soared. And though I may not have been the funniest person in class, I did have the best moonwalk. (Note to self: Being able to do the moonwalk is STILL impressive.)
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