by Jerry Corley Founder – The Stand Up Comedy Clinic
I had the most amazing lunch the other day. I was contacted by Bob Mills, one of the legendary writers for Bob Hope. He started in the business at the age of 39. He was a lawyer in San Francisco before that. He contacted me via my website and liked what he saw, so I asked him to lunch. I scheduled 90 minutes into my calendar for the lunch. I had a dentist appointment after that. We met at the Daily Grill in Studio City, one of those places you walk into and usually have some celebrity sightings.
Bob was already waiting for me as I am notoriously late. From the moment we shook hands I knew I was talking to someone special. We barely ordered iced-tea and we were already neck deep in talking about comedy. This was subject that we both clearly had an absolute passion for. Since I’m the one who usually does the talking about comedy I had to remember to shut the hell up and let him speak, for he had experiences that I’ve always dreamed about.
Bob was a member of one of the most famous writing teams comedy will ever know. Bob Hope’s guys–or I should say guys and one gal–were extremely loyal and they were well-paid. Bob could call them at any time of the day or night and ask for material and boy did Hope use material. He never did reruns with his specials of which he did close to 100 and he always needed fresh material for his live performances.
The stories Bob told me were fascinating. To have an insight on one of the most legendary comedians the world has ever known was priceless. Needless to say the lunch lasted 3 hours. So much for the dentist.
Bob wrote a fascinating book about his experiences with Hope, the specials, the tours and the stars they worked with. It’s called “The Laugh Makers.” I read it and I couldn’t put it down. I recommend this book to anyone interested in writing or performing…or anyone who loved Bob Hope.
I’ve included a widget for anyone who might be interested in buying Bob’s book. If you’re a comedian or a writer or remotely interested, get the damn book.
Attention all comics and comedy lovers in the 909: Fox Sports Bar and Lounge in Pamona is now doing a comedy show. Stand Up Comedy Clinic Students Christian Zaragoza and Ernie Ordonez, put their money where their mouth is (what money? the show is FREE!) and they organized and are producing a comedy show in Pamona. The Inland Empire needs a good room where comedians can work and they followed through by getting this started. One of the things I encourage my students to do is to perform whenever and wherever possible. Walt Whitman said: “Actors must act. Writers must write. Painters must paint.” Well comedians have double duty in that they must write and perform as much as possible. Christian and Ernie saw this as an opportunity to start a show.
What a great idea! As a comedian, you begin to understand the importance of networking, meeting as many other comedians as possible, because it’s not only your continued work ethic that will help you succeed, but it is in your relationships where your career thrives. Starting a successful comedy room is a great way to meet other comedians and help to nurture those relationships.
For more information or to get in touch with Chris or Ernie about future comedy shows in Pamona, Click the show flyer and ”friend” Chris on Facebook. If you develop that relationship, maybe you can make an appearance at the next comedy showcase in Pamona. Eventually, it may turn into a paid gig. And while you’re at it Tweet this article or post on your Facebook page and help these guys really develop this gig into something successful!
Good Luck you guys! I hope you have me on the next show, because I couldn’t do it this round.
Jason London at the Comedy Store
It’s always a pleasure to share in the success my students. That’s what I’m going to blog about today. One of my students, Jason London, went out to Toledo, Ohio to visit his girlfriend’s family. If that wasn’t courageous enough, he called the Funny Bone in Toledo to ask for a guest spot. And in taking my suggestion, he told the manager of the Funny Bone that he plays regularly at the Comedy Store. They loved the idea of having a comedian who plays at the world famous Comedy Store, so they gave him an audition booking. He went out there and did his thing putting on a show that was so good, the booker booked him at the club for a week!
That’s a very impressive start for someone who’s only been doing stand up for 24 weeks. He’s already getting paid bookings in an A-Club in the midwest. this is big news for any comic. How did it happen? Well, first of all Jason works hard at writing his material. Despite having a job that keeps him busy, sometimes for 12 hour days, he musters up the energy to write his material. Then he comes to class religiously at the Stand Up Comedy Clinic and gets notes on his routines and incorporates them. He makes sure his material has structure because it’s the structure that get the laughs.
And without belaboring the point, let me just say Congratulations to Jason London for booking his first week-long gig at an A-Club! Let’s keep this up and get more bookings!
Rob Rose Comedian
My first student, and now writing partner, Rob Rose, called me the other day as he was preparing to do a showcase in the main room at the world-famous Comedy Store. We were tipped off that some heavy hitters from the industry were going to be there to watch the talent, so we were both eager that he do well. He started telling me all the new material that he wrote for the showcase. I stopped him. “You’re doing new material?” He said, “Yeah, I want them to know I can write.”
There’s always a temptation to write new material for an important showcase because you want to impress. But the problem with that is you don’t truly own it and it will affect your performance. Jay Leno once told me, “Never do new material for a showcase for an agent.” And he’s right. Always do stuff you are so familiar with that you could do it in your sleep. That way an agent sees it as effortless and that is what will make you stand out from everyone else that stands on stage. You’ll be free enough to play with the audience and that will reflect in your performance.
Doing new material may make you feel fresh but it won’t let you stay out of your head. Once you have to remember to do the material then that puts you into your head to look for the joke rather than in the moment with the audience where you belong. Save the new material for a midweek club workout rather than an important showcase in front of industry decision makers.
He took the suggestion and was spontaneous and playful on stage. As a result of doing the “tried and true” material, he was able to be free and his act reflected that. The agents took notice too and after the show they indicated that he was one of the favorites. We’ll see what happens. Whether he gets signed or not as a result of that peformance, he stood out and they made note of it. When they see him again, they will really take notice.
Jerry Corley (Joke Doctor) is the founder of the Stand Up Comedy Clinic visit the website at http://www.standupcomedyclinic.com where you can sign up for a class or private coaching.
The biggest questions I get in teaching humor courses is: Can comedy be taught? Many times it’s comes as an attack. The most recent one I received was from some guy in San Diego, who was of course afraid to share his name. He left messages and sent emails—a full on assault!—(shaking in my boots…well, to be honest, Skechers). He said, “You can’t teach comedy! You either are funny or you’re not! You, of all people should know that!”
I didn’t understand a couple of things, first of all why all the hostility, dude? And secondly, why me of all people? If I’m the one teaching comedy, then it’s definitely not me! I did this with a smile on my face, of course, because I usually smile at such naivete.
It’s the kind of naiveté you find when someone is generally ignorant about a lot of things. They’re usually the same people that think that we didn’t actually put a man on the moon, Sadaam Hussein was responsible for 9-11, and that a stripper smiles at you when you give her money, because she really likes you!”
But I digress…comedy can be taught because all comedy has structure. It has a wide variety of formulas and techniques that can be utilized to surprise the listener or viewer. And if surprise is the number one element that triggers human laughter, wouldn’t it be wise to learn the different ways a humorist can write or deliver a line or a story that will create surprise?
You can learn comedy on your own, but if you study with someone who is knowledgeable and who has experience then you can probably get funnier faster. Learning comedy is like learning anything. It takes time to get good, but if you study with a good teacher you get better faster.
Comedy is a lot like magic. When a magician puts a ball in one hand, wave the magic wand over it and the ball disappears only to reappear behind your ear, he used misdirection to distract you so that you didn’t actually see where the ball was going. He created surprise. He’s doing the same thing a comedian does when the comedian leads you down one path verbally, only to misdirect you so that he can surprise you with the ending. As in… “This morning, I woke up in the hotel room and the housekeeper was banging on the door, just banging…finally, I had to get up and let her out.”
This is called a reverse in comedy and it works all the time. It’s just one of the formulas I teach in my comedy classes, workshops and seminars. The reverse; learn to use it. Its effectiveness will surprise you. In fact, it works so well, it’s like magic!