Jokes – July 30, 2009

Yahoo Sports revealed that Brett Favre will reportedly stay retired. Yeah, and in an unrelated story Amy Winehouse says she’ll stay sober.

Professor Gates and Officer Crowley met with President Obama at the White House for a beer. I think it was a fabulous opportunity to demonstrate that two people can disagree and still be gentlemen. After the third beer things got a little heated. Professor Gates, punched Officer Crowley in the face and accused him of “looking at his bitch”.

Officer James Crowley, who teaches racial sensitivity to fellow officers, was offered another beer and politely refused it saying, “the last time I drank too much, I missed out on election day and when I finally woke up, my head was hurting, the room was spinning and our new president was black!

A white dude came out to the to serve beers on a platter to a black president in the White House. Man have we come a long way. :-)

At the gathering, Officer James Crowley looked confused. When prompted he said, “I don’t know, I’m sitting at a table with two black men and a white man is serving us… Am I being punked?”

Joe Biden was there. He wasn’t invited, but he wasn’t going to miss out on free beer. He showed up and within a minute already had some verbal miscues. They handed him a glass of beer and he was like, “What the f**k, I thought this was a kegger?”

Or

Joe Biden was also at the gathering. He wasn’t invited, but they thought having another white guy present would even it up a little. If Crowley thought it was just him and two black men he may have felt ganged up on and that situation could’ve easily turned pepper-spray-ugly.

What disappointed me about this whole thing is that our president was drinking Bud Light. Can’t our president have a better choice in beer? I think a more appropriate beer for a White House Gathering would have been a Samuel Adams.

The president says he prefers a good Colt 45, but didn’t think waving that in Crowley’s face would help end racial profiling.

L.A. County Coroner’s Office said that Michael Jackson’s autopsy will be delayed indefinitely. Apparently there’s yet another scandal; while autopsying his body, they dug deeper and found out it was Joan Rivers.

Say It, Only Different!

Telling a story in comedy is good. Did you know that one of the most
popular comedy teachers in L.A. says, “Don’t do stories!”
Funny, because some of the most successful comedians in the business
do stories. Jerry Seinfeld? Stories. Bill Cosby? Stories. Dane Cook?
Stories. Sometimes I wonder if those instructors watch comedy.

The key is to have laugh points in your stories. The stories should
be filled with surprises and word play that keeps the audience laughing
while you are trying to make your point. The story should also end with
a solid punch and utilize interesting and compelling language.
That will separate you from the pack.

My writing partner, Rob Rose,  is great at coming up with compelling language. He can make the most mundane thing sound brilliant and funny. For example: we were writing a story about an “ex” who has a drinking problem.

She would sneak out to the garage to drink beer, while the rest of the family was watching television. The problem was that she would then accuse the husband of being a bad father. So he wrote,

“I’m giving the kids baths, helping them with their homework and she’s downing ‘road-cokes’ in the garage with the f*cking lights out.”

You can even remove the profanity and it still jumps off the page and
heightens the impact of the story. The sheer delivery and uniqueness
of the use of euphemisms will get a laugh simply because it’s
a funny way to say she was in the garage drinking beer.

So say it, but only different, and stand out from the pack!

3-Steps To Finding A Good Comedy Instructor

3-Steps To Finding A Good Comedy Instructor

“My Name Is Jerry Corley. I Teach Stand Up Comedy…and I’d Like To Report A Crime…”

I’ve been a professional comedian for over twenty years. I’ve spent many years working 38 to 40 weeks on the road. I’ve written for television shows, including spending 8 years as a contributing writer on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I’ve written entire shows for comedians, including one for an impressionist who, as a result, booked 43 weeks at a Las Vegas Resort. The resort closed shortly after that, but they honored the remainder of his contract: 35 remaining weeks x $10, 000…not a bad pay day!

I’ve structured my shows to give performances that receive standing ovations. Now I teach what I know. I still do corporates and other gigs, but without the long weeks away from home and family.

I love teaching.

When potential students contact me on the phone or email, one of the first things they ask me is, “How can you tell whether a comedy instructor is good and I’m not wasting my money?” Well, first if you have a good rapport on the phone and you think you’ll get along with the instructor, follow these simple steps to be sure that you’ll be satisfied in your choice:

Step 1: See if your instructor has any video of himself or herself performing stand up online. If they do, watch it. If they don’t, contact that instructor either by phone or email and ask them if they have any video of their stand up that you can watch. If they don’t have any, go to…

Step 2: Hang up the phone and throw away the email, because really, what are they going to teach you? The only thing they have demonstrated is how not to do comedy.

Step 3: If they do have video, watch it. Does it make you laugh? Can you hear the structure? Are they confident? Is their delivery, writing and choice of material interesting and Intelligent? Again, does it make you laugh? If the answer to any of those questions is “no, ” then repeat step 2.

Why am I being so hard on comedy teachers? I’ll tell you why. I love this industry. I love the art form of comedy and I am passionate about the science of laughter and structure of comedy. I study it. I write it. I perform it. I can sit down and write funny about anything. (At least that’s what I tell myself each time I sit down to write funny about anything!) I believe a humorist should be able to, with practice and work, make any logical grouping of words, funny.

I see a lot of instructors out there ready to take your money. Comedy classes aren’t expensive, really, but for struggling artists they are. So before you plunk down your hard-earned 3 to 5 hundred dollars, your instructor should be able to demonstrate how to write a joke from scratch and make it funny. They should be able to step on that stage, with the pressure of an audience and perform it themselves.

I believe a good part of teaching is demonstrating. If they can’t demonstrate it, how in the world are they to effectively teach it? They might be able to regurgitate what they read in say, Judy Carter’s books and even Xerox that material and issue it to you in class as a hand out and claim they are teaching. They may also offer a student a critique only by telling the student when they think something is “HACK!”

Is this teaching? Maybe to some it is. But I believe it boils down to this: Would you learn how to paint an abstract or still life from somebody who can’t paint? Would you take driving lessons from someone who doesn’t have a driver’s license? Would you—you get the point.

You might learn a little something from those kinds of instructors, but a comedy instructor without an actual act is like a flight instructor without a pilot’s license. Odds are you are destined to crash! Simply, they lack the first-hand ability to apply the fundamentals of humor and create a laugh-out-loud article, essay, speech or stand up performance. And here’s the problem: you just paid five hundred bucks for that. That, my friends, is criminal.

Is It Too Early For Michael Jackson Jokes?

With the death of Michael Jackson at 50 years old, the question of appropriateness of humor has been brought, once again, into the spotlight. Through the many years following Jackon’s crazy antics from the laughable plastic surgeries to the skin whitening, the baby dangling, the failed marriages to Lisa-Marie and Debbie Rowe, the incidents with sleep-overs and feeding wine to 9-year olds, Michael has been the butt of thousands of jokes. So many jokes, in fact, that the total is equal to almost half the jokes written about former President Bush and Bill Clinton. Think about that. That’s a lot of damn jokes!

But is it too early to make jokes about Michael Jackson considering his death is still so fresh in everyone’s minds? My answer to that isn’t as clear-cut as it would be to a question like: Was Michael weird? The answer to that question would be a simple and resounding “YES!” And that’s if you directed that question to his mother!

When it comes to appropriateness of humor however, the line is blurred. It really depends on how you tell the joke. There’s an old saying: As comedians we’re only guessing…the audience is the judge.

I was fired from writing for Jay Leno because I wrote a joke about the Pope John Paul II’s death. Fired! I then sold that same joke to Letterman and he did it on the air and got great laughs. Here’s the joke:

“Well the Pope died today…(imagine the audience’s response…nervous , tense, “Oh my goodness he’s talking about the Pope!”) I was reading the article in the Times and it said that tens of thousands of people were praying for the Pope…What are they praying for? That he’ll go to Heaven? Because if the Pope needs that kind of help to get into Heaven, the rest of us are SCREWED!”

The audience laughed! Why? The joke really wasn’t about the Pope it was about getting into Heaven and it was not degrading the Pope’s integrity or his commitment to his faith. Appropriate? It got a laugh! The audience’s response determined it was appropriate. It was the structure of the joke that made it appropriate.

For a professional humor writer, death often introduces opportunities to write humor. We must be careful though. I think right now, any joke that attacks Jacko will result in groans, boos or a kick in the Hee-hee…The good news for humor writer is that on the heels of the King of Pop dying, Billy Mays the huckster that sold stuff on T.V. (like Oxy-Clean), also died. With all the people’s energy going to the sadness of Michael Jackson dying, you could get away with a dig at Billy Mays. It could go something like this:

Well, I have some good news and some bad news: The bad news is Billy Mays died. The good news is his ashes make an excellent stain remover—but only if you CALL NOW!

Appropriate? Well, I performed it last night and the audience laughed…

14 Reasons Stand Up Comedy is Great For Actors

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Pat Corley on Murphy Brown

Pat Corley on Murphy Brown

I grew up in an acting family. My mother and father were actors. My father was a successful character actor.

I studied at the Actor’s Studio in New York and Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute here in L.A.

But it all really came together when I started doing stand up. I just took a comedy class and developed an act. It gave me an opportunity to be creative and develop content in between acting gigs. Stand up gave me the opportunity to play in front of 5 people to 15,000 people.

It gave me a chance to find my own voice, to be ‘real, present and in the moment’ on stage.

In acting, that is huge, for more reasons than just one. I put together fourteen.

If you’re having a dry spell in your acting, here are 10 reasons acting is a good outlet and addition to your skill set as an actor.

 
1. You can learn to master playing in front of just a few people, which is very similar to a casting situation.

2. You learn to ad-lib. Improv skills are essential in acting and audition situations.

3. You learn not only how to tell stories that are funny, you learn interpret the humor in scripts and how to play comedy successfully by playing against the comedy. Mediocre comedians play the comedy. Great comedians play the situation.

[gn_pullquote align="right"]“After performing stand up, Performing in an audition situation was a piece of cake. I mean what could these people ever say to hurt my feelings that some drunk in the city hasn’t already said?” — Ray Romano[/gn_pullquote]

4. It’s a brilliant way to showcase. Casting directors and directors are coming to comedy showcases more than ever. Casting directors, agents and managers are always looking for new talent. The problem is their time is very limited. They would rather come out to watch your 6-10 minute showcase than come out an watch a 2-hour play. It’s simple time management.

5. It demonstrates courage. Most of the people you are trying to impress in the industry are in awe of artists who have the courage to do stand up. My friend met Robert Redford recently. Redford said, “I’m in awe of comedians. Doing stand up scares the hell out of me.”

6. The one-man/one-woman show – your ticket to notoriety.

7.  When you’re a working comic and also an actor, you can work when you’re not “working.” Meaning, you can get gigs as a comedian and pay the bills performing when you don’t have an acting gig.

8. When people think you’re funny, they also think you’re smart. Funny is memorable. People like to be around people who make them laugh. If two actors are up for a job and the CD or the Director just saw you perform at a comedy club and you made them laugh, who is that CD most likely to choose?

9. You learn to be you. In 99 percent of all casting situations the casting director asks the actor to “just be yourself.” You’d be amazed at how many actors freeze. Actors spend so much time in training learning to develop characters that they forget how to be themselves. Stand up comedy gives you that ability.

10. Learn to NAIL AUDITIONS. Nothing develops unbreakable confidence onstage than performing stand up on a regular basis. “You develop a thick skin, ” says actor Ray Romano. “After performing stand up, Performing in an audition situation was a piece of cake. I mean what could these people ever say to hurt my feelings that some drunk in the city hasn’t already said?” One of the best ways to develop unbreakable confidence on stage is by doing stand up on a regular basis.

11. MEMORABILITY – Whether it’s an audition or a comedy competition, one of the primary qualities that get you moving to the next level (the quarter or semi-final rounds in competitions, call-backs with producers, network or studio with acting), so if you go into an audition and you’re funny, you become memorable.

13. “IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO DISLIKE SOMEONE WHO MAKES YOU LAUGH” This is one of my absolute favorites. I’ve used this in commercials, sitcoms & episodics. For someone to laugh with you they have to temporarily give themselves over to you. And when you make someone laugh, they like you. In the run of actors coming into the room to read, if you’re the one that leaves them in stitches… they will want to see you again!

14. 60-PERCENT OF BREAKDOWNS ARE FOR ‘COMEDIC CHARACTER’ – If you’re not studying comedy, you’re losing out on 60-percent of the acting opportunities currently being cast.

15. STAND-UP COMEDY SHOWS THEM A DIFFERENT SIDE OF YOU – Every agent I’ve met looks at my resume and says, “Oh! You do stand-up?!” When it comes to ‘special skills’ stand-up can be one of your best assets!

Take Your Acting to the Next Level

So what are you waiting for? Take a class and in 8 weeks you’ll have a comedy routine you can perform, that will be video taped and you’ll be proud to showcase.