Inner nerd

Bath Spa Workshop Homework for 17th February 2018

Den Levett and I have developed a very useful workshop exercise, which explores two, if not more fundamentals of stand-up comedy - Timing and Attitude. It involves standing up in performance mode and exposing your inner nerd to the rest of the group.

All you have to do is just go on about something you know thoroughly or intimately. It doesn't necessarily have to be something useful like 'how to apply a tourniquet'; it can be something you have never given voice to before like a series of brief cameo descriptions of all your aunts on your mother's side. The idea is to get on a roll and lose yourself in it.

In Exeter a few years back we had our first train spotter and he was a corker. Over a period of three days and without much encouragement, he seized the opportunity and delivered the goods. In the initial exercises he was seen as amiable, earnest, honest, pedantic, slightly awkward and prone to bluster when excited. When 'a bit of a mad professor' was mentioned, he took it on board and started performing as if he was giving a lecture.

Gregory had never been on a stage before and he may choose never to again, but in a ten minute showcase performance he took a studio theatre audience of thirty people giggling through the history of Britain's railways on the 12.08 from Kings Cross to Edinburgh (with a 17 minute fuel stop) and imparted more esoteric information than any of us could handle. The curl of his comic attitude - that his serious façade could never contain his passion and enthusiasm - revealed him as intelligent, endearing and intriguingly dotty. We ended up loving him almost as much he loved his subject.

Don't write anything down other than a few bullet points. Aim for about 4-5 minutes.

List and Curl

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank…

Homework for Workshop at Bath Spa Saturday 27th Jan 2018.
Write a thankyou list. Note: Text to be delivered at the workshop in the here and now.

Thank anyone who has ever influenced you in any way and give the briefest of explanations why or none at all, (you can witter on forever but that's another plot). Thank them with love, thank them with irony, thank them with humour, bewilderment, disdain, hero-worship, anger or best wishes. Spit out their names, drool at the very thought of them, salute them, shout at them one last time, delight at their memory, Corpse at the very thought of them. Family, friends, lovers, comrades, politicians and celebs, obscure people known only to you - neighbours from hell, neighbours from heaven, bass guitarists of forgotten punk bands, kids you went to school with and who disgraced or excelled themselves, teachers who helped, hindered or humiliated you, priests, publicans, probation officers, shop keepers, show offs and shit-stirrers, and all those people that must exist because somebody must have written that ad or road safety jingle that drove you insane or designed that tower that blocks your view of the setting sun.

Mention at least one unfortunate, who there but for the grace etc and at least one talentless chancer who represents everything that is right or wrong or whatever about the appalling and or wonderful society in which you live or scrabble about on the fringes of. Get surreal with it, silly with it, serious, seditious and scatological with it. Regress, pontificate, condemn, celebrate, but keep it personal, make it all about you and your loves, hates, likes, dislikes, fantasies and predilections. Enjoy yourself with it.

Include yourself in relation to each of them. Use the excuse of distance of time to diss yourself and your bad behaviour and thank those who must have overlooked it, forgave you and loved you despite it.

Read it out loud to yourself, improvising any thoughts as you go. Sum up with emotional emphasis your feelings towards your subjects as you speak their name, adding the secondary stuff and extras as you would asides or throwaway background information.

Tick anything that tickles you. Cut out the stuff that just helped the process. Don't analyse it too much but put it in some sort of order and share it with us.

Running time 3 - 5 minutes.