Within five minutes of registering, I learned I had to prepare 2 minutes of material to perform in the first class, which was the next day.
My first thought:
WTF? How can I prepare 2 minutes of material? I don’t know how to write comedy.
I immediately started to doubt my decision to enroll. I wondered if I had made a mistake.
Aren’t we going to learn how to write comedy in this class? How can I prepare material to perform in class before I know how to write comedy?
The mix of people in the class was diverse. But there was one thing we had in common. Regardless of how much or how little each of us had prepared, nobody had their act together.
Fast forward six weeks to our graduation show. We each performed a 5-minute stand-up comedy routine in front of a packed house, on the main stage at Gotham Comedy Club.
The transformation was amazing.
In 6 weeks, with a 3-hour class once a week, we had grown into ourselves.
We showed up confident and ready.
Everyone slayed it.
How to Make Progress
Over the past decade, I’ve invested thousands of hours and dollars in courses and programs that promised to help me find my voice and share my sacred work with the world. Most of them did not deliver on that promise.
None of the formulas, blueprints, systems, or processes did for me what 6 weeks of stand-up comedy class did.
No amount of deep inner work or manifesting got me as far as I got this week.
Why was this class effective where others failed?
This was not a class about theory. We did not watch comedy and break it down. We did not study theories of comedy writing. We did not learn about stand-up comedy in a passive way.
We did stand-up, starting in the very first class.
Every week, each of us stood up to do our act for the class. Then Karen gave us feedback. Sometimes people in the class would offer suggestions.
This is how you learn to do anything: you do it.
Before you can improve, you must do the thing
Passively learning about how to do something, doesn’t help you actually do the thing.
The only way to learn how to do something is to do the thing.
If you want to learn to swim, you’ve got to get in the water
Nobody learns to swim on land. You’ve got to get into the pool and start moving.
It is the same way that you learn to walk by walking. Or that you learn to write by writing. This is how I learn new tricks on the trampoline and trapeze.
It is how I condition new habits and rituals.
Practice. Fail. Fall. Get up. Repeat.
Writing Tips Follow Writing
I had assumed that we would learn about comedy writing in this class. It turns out we didn’t need to know much about the craft of writing to deliver stand-up.
What helps you do stand-up is standing up in front of people with a microphone in your hand and delivering material.
Yet over 6 weeks I did improve my comedy writing, just by taking in Karen’s feedback and immersing in the environment of stand-up comedy.
The skill comes as you do the action.
Now that I’ve delivered jokes and have a sense of my voice I can move on to improve my craft of writing jokes. But writing jokes alone means nothing if I’m not going to deliver them.
Learning about the “rule of three” doesn’t help you deliver a stand-up act. But once you’re writing comedy, understanding the rule of three helps you make it better.
Learning = Doing
What got me to the stage after only 6 weeks was the fact that I practiced consistently. I learned how to do stand-up by doing stand-up.
Now that I’ve done my act, I can hone my craft by learning some nuances and tweaking my content or delivery. There will always be things to improve. But you can’t improve if you don’t take action in the first place.
Passively learning about something doesn’t get you anywhere.
You learn how to do something by doing it.
You learn about something by doing it.
This is how we learn how to do everything.
Action creates knowledge. Not the other way around.
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