By Jerry Corley – Founder of The Stand Up Comedy Clinic
When something big happens in the news, my first instinct is to write jokes. Whether it’s a stressful situation or a happy situation, I want to try to find the funny in it. Many times I’ll Tweet the jokes or put them on Facebook. It’s a challenge to myself to see, not only how many jokes I can write in a short period of time, but see how many I can write that are less than 140 characters.
Comedians or humorists should alway try to take a humorous approach to almost every situation. It doesn’t make us less human, it makes us more able to see things in a different light. Sometimes it can alleviate stress. Sometimes it can ease pain, but ultimately the writing makes us better.
So if you want to become comedian, or you want to become better at writing comedy, or you just want to be funny in your life, write jokes. It feels good.
Here are some of the jokes I put together the moment they announced that U.S. forces found and killed Public Enemy number one, Osama Bin Ladin. Most of these jokes were already Tweeted or posted to Facebook. They helped me take the edge off. I hope they help you too! Enjoy! And if you feel like it, post your own jokes and see how good it feels.
CNN announced that Osama bin Ladin was found and killed. How were they able to track him? Turns out he was using an iPhone.
When I heard the news last night the first thing I thought was: this is the best thing politically to happen to Obama since John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate.
Obama is dead: Neighbors are shooting fireworks, NYPD is riding lights and sirens. Rush Limbaugh is shitting a live mongoose.
You can tell Bin Ladin is dead because The “War on Terror” is now just a new name for Charlie Sheen’s road show.
Former President Bush was notified that Osama Bin Ladin was found and killed. Bush responded by saying, “I’m sorry…who?”
President Obama is planning to announce success in finding and killing Osama Bin Ladin. Republicans have already said, “our plan is better.”
The Arab world learned a lesson by President Obama giving the order to kill Bin Ladin: Don’t piss off a brotha!
I know the election’s far away, but the campaign goes something like this: Obama: “I got Bin Ladin, what do you got?”
One of the mob cheering Bin Ladin’s death in NYC said, I’m just happy the U.S. finally got Justic—shit, somebody just stole my wallet!
President Obama is going to announce that Bin Ladin is dead. Donald Trump is already stating that he believes the death certificate is a fake.
I know the presidential election is still far off, but I think the campaign will go like this: OBAMA: I got Bin Ladin. What do you got?
The mission to kill Osama Bin Ladin was pulled off and not a single American Life was lost. Sadly that claim can never be made by Kaiser.
Reports coming in say that Bin Ladin being buried at sea is “unusual.” But what’s really weird is the Eulogy was performed by Captain Jack Sparrow.
U.S. military says they have several pieces of evidence to confirm Bin Ladin’s identity. They have facial recognition, DNA samples and evidently they stowed his heart in the “Dead Man’s Chest.”
The military operation to get Osama Bin Ladin was done with precision. Helicopters landed in his compound, they got into a firefight, killed Bin Ladin, took his body. The only thing that would’ve made it better is if there was a soundtrack playing The Black Eyed Peas’, “Boom-Boom-Pow.”
by Jerry Corley – Founder of the Stand Up Comedy Clinic
I was recently asked “what’s the key to a good joke?” The answer is quite simple actually. Some people think it’s subjective. I asked a couple of pretty popular “comedy teachers” and they said, “laughter, ” another instructor said, “a good punch line.”
Well, “laughter” might be the response when your joke actually contains the key, or “a good punchline” might be a good comedy catch phrase, but it fails to give the student of comedy any real answers. Nor does it give a comedy or humor student any idea on how to design a good punch line. Want the answer? The key to a good joke is the same thing that is key to a good sleight of hand trick. The key is surprise. That’s right, surprise.
Surprise, according to experts is also the number one element that triggers human laughter. If you surprise the audience as to what you are going to say, then they will usually laugh. If expectation was a balloon, you, as the humorist would inflate that expectation and then…pop it.
“I’m losing my hair. It really bothers me. Like in the mornings, when my wife is running her fingers through my hair—but I already left for work.”
“I woke up in the hotel this morning and the housekeeper was banging on the door…just banging—finally I had to get up and let her out.”
“My daughter’s five and I’m trying to teach her to tie her shoes. She’s like, ‘I can’t, Dad. I can’t.’ I said, ‘How many times have I told you not to use that word? I am not your Dad.’”
In each of these jokes, you can see that the expectation was inflated, then “popped, ” at the last possible second.
But surprise isn’t the only element that is the key to good humor. Today, the best comedians out there are using four major formulas to get laughs. That’s right: Four!
In fact, there are 10 comedy formulas that are used in conventional comedy. But only four are used by the best comics out there. Whether it’s Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, Robins Williams, Kat Williams or any other comedian that makes you laugh, you’ll find that they pretty much use only four.
I teach all 10 formulas in my comedy courses. But you really only have to master four to be a successful comic, and yes, because they are formulas and contain structure you can teach them to anyone.
To learn more, sign up for my newsletter (located in the right sidebar). You’ll find it is very useful when it comes to writing or performing comedy, or humorous speeches.
In other words, it could give you the answers to the question: “What is the key to a good joke.”
by Jerry Corley – Founder of The Stand Up Comedy Clinic
For all the negatives I see in Charlie Sheen’s current behavior and what sometimes just seems like a drug-induced rant, the important thing to consider is that he’s doing something—anything to keep busy. His television show, ‘Two and a Half Men’ is on hiatus and he, (according to the network’s latest information), is no longer a part of it. That would take most actors and put them into a funk. But Charlie Sheen took the disagreement that got him fired and created a live show (if you want to call it that), and took it on the road for a 20-city tour. That’s a good thing. I could say he should’ve hired some writers to really pump it up and make it funny, but after he dissed all the writers on Two and a Half Men, there’s probably fewer writers who are willing to jump up and write for him. Hell, I’ll do it! I’ll put some words into his mouth and make him funny.
But I digress. My point is that Charlie went out and did something. He stayed creative.
He’s going to learn A LOT from this tour. First, he’ll learn that you can’t just go up there and try to be funny. It doesn’t work. Just ask Jersey Shores’ “Situation.” When he tried to be funny on Donald Trump’s roast, he nearly got booed off. You need structure. You need material. Comedy is only comedy when people laugh and people laugh when there’s irony, incongruity or surprise. It’s a very simple concept.
So my point is—really this time!—that when you are an artist, (a writer, comedian, painter, actor, musician, etc.), and there seems to be nothing going on for you…get out and do something. Figure out a way to write, tell jokes, paint, act or play music! It creates energy around you, it makes you seem busy. It keeps your creativity flowing and you get better at what you do!
A couple of students in my comedy class that I teach in Burbank are screenwriters and directors. They’ve been studying comedy for various reasons. One of them, David Conolly, was in a slow point in his directing career, so his wife got him involved in my class—probably to get him out of the house!
As a result of being in my class, he’s stayed busy. His comedy act is taking off, he’s kept people notified via social networking and literally hundreds of people are aware that he’s doing stand up. As a result, he’s gotten standup comedy gigs and other acting entertainment-related opportunities have also come his way. He’s got a really big project in the works now, but that’s something I’ll only mention when it is signed, sealed and delivered.
Another student, Robert Narholz, is a screenwriter/director. He came to the class to explore comedy structure, (as his next writing project is going to be a romantic comedy.) He’s learned a ton and he’s gone from being one of the most serious people I’ve ever met to a guy with a very interesting and witty personality. He’s still serious, but seriously funny too!
These two ‘comedians’ wanted to continue “doing something, ” so they decided to explore producing online content in the form of a sketch show. They’ve done an amazing job with this project and I’m proud to share it with everyone I know—which is about 6 of you now. (Isn’t it exciting? My fan base has doubled since my last posting!)
Online content is still very popular. Industry is still looking for good ideas and I think these guys have hit that mark with their new sketch show, “Hindsight News!” It comes at you in short, 6-8 minute episodes that resemble “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” It’s quick, it moves and it’s funny.
How might this benefit them professionally? First: they’re putting out content. They are writing. They are acting. They are utilizing their skills to stay busy. They are also using other actors, such as cast members Annie Girard and Brian Zuanich. They have a casting calls for guest actors, thus giving other actors something to do too. As a result they are building more relationships, further developing their network of people and through the internet they are reaching more people than they ever thought possible.
As a result, just like Charlie Sheen, they too, are “Winning.”
You can also check out “Hindsight News!” at http://www.hindsightnews.com.
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.
by Jerry Corley – Founder of The Stand Up Comedy Clinic
This weekend Jerry Corley’s Stand Up Comedy Clinic visited Las Vegas, hosting a 2-day comedy seminar in the ‘Sin-City, ‘ at the Alexis Park Hotel and Resort, and if writing jokes is a sin, then there was a lot of sinning going on. In the 2-day seminar, Jerry Corley, the Joke Doctor himself, shared joke writing techniques galore, demonstrated techniques on the stage and deconstructed sample sets on video from Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks, Brian Regan, and George Carlin, giving the students an insight to the ‘greats’ using the very techniques he reveals in his seminars.
The results were really inspiring. To watch the attendees improve their joke-writing skills liiterally overnight was just incredible. From Saturday to Sunday, the attendees, (some of them working comedians), churned out one and two-liners on material ranging from trending topical events, relationships, religion and the economy, like they were professional writers in a writers room at NBC. In short 15-20 minute, workshop-style sessions, these impressive students wrote 7, 8, 10 jokes and more and they were jokes that truly reached the level of commercially acceptable jokes that you might hear on the late night shows. Seven to eight jokes might not seem like a lot, but think about it…they wrote these jokes in twenty minutes. Just think of the possibilities if they would have had an hour or two!
I know some professional comedians (headliners) who haven’t written a new joke in 12 years. These guys and gals were writing them in 20 minutes.
In the last segment of the last day of the seminar, the students got up on the stage and performed some of their own material and recieved suggestions and notes from Jerry and some of the other students in the room. The suggestions were helpful and insightful. Some of the students who didn’t have a lot of material learned that by just talking about your life, your goals, and your frustrations, you can generate some good comedy material for your routine.
Keep an eye out for one of Jerry Corley’s weekend comedy seminars coming to your town. If you are interested in stand up comedy or comedy writing, you won’t want to miss it.