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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Just for Laughs: 9 Things to Know About Stand-Up Comedy

I always enjoy expanding my horizons. Usually, I do so by traveling the world. But when I am at home, I take classes. Last year, it was Russian. This spring, it was Italian. This summer, it's stand-up comedy.

Now, anyone who has read my stories about the naked German spa or has savored my punditry or has put up with my on-the-spot quips knows I have a sense of humor, however warped it may be. I can converse funny. I can write funny. I can quip funny. But performing funny--that, my friends, is a whole other ball of wax.

As I take classes at The Improv in DC, here are some lessons I am learning.

1. Set a premise. As you begin a routine, you have to let the audience know your persona. You're the neurotic Jewish girl. You're the woeful putz. You're the put-upon dad. The audience needs to know who you are up front to get the joke.

2. Believe the audience wants to like you.

3. Take a breath before you start. It will calm and compose you (supposedly).

4. Take liberties with the truth. To wit, when relating a real story, always attribute the funny line to yourself....even if someone else said it. There are no fact checkers in comedy.

5. Take it to the crazy. Find veins of humor in situations and explore them to the extreme.

6. Cut the crap. Delete extraneous exposition.

7- Use the Rhythm Method. Alternate between long and slow and slam, bam, thank you ma'am.

8. Beware of jokes based on news events. Sometimes, it's too soon to joke, and sometimes, the joke's already outdated..

9. Don't give the audience a chance to heckle you. Beware of asking the crowd questions, or pausing too long between thoughts.

If you are interested in how well I learn my lessons, please come to The Improv on August 7. But you are only invited if you promise to laugh with me, not at me.

Thank you and good night.

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