Six Things I Learnt at Comedy School

Each year I set myself a challenge. Some of them have been physical adventures, others reflective or learning. The idea is to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone. I wrote more about why here

This year my challenge was a 6 week stand up comedy course. Graduation was a 5 minute stand up set in front of a live audience. Even though I speak for a living, this was very different - and very confronting. Thanks very much to all the people who supported me on the journey and bravely faced 7 newly minted comics on the night.

Here's what I learnt:

  • Process and method rock - If you can learn the mechanics of what you want to achieve it saves effort and significantly ups your chance of success. Having a mentor/teacher who knows the territory speeds the learning up even more.
  • Process and method are not enough - All the courses, books, videos and you tube clips in the world are not enough to prepare you to do something well. No matter which way you slice it, that takes some time and elbow grease.
  • None of it counts til you are on stage - Process, method, work - all good, but the only way you can know if it works is step into the spotlight and have a crack. Those lights are bright and it feels exposed. There are so many areas in work, life and relationships where we encounter challenging moments and just have to go for it. The alternative is to timidly wonder how it might have been.
  • Theres nothing like a deadline - Even the day before, I didn't feel ready. Knowing I had to deliver put some urgency into the prep.
  • You might have to step out of your well worn grooves - I speak for a living, so I have some very effective and efficient ways of preparing. This was different, and I found I needed to take a different approach to my preparation. Sometimes we can generalise knowledge and skill from one thing to another. Sometimes you have to break new ground. Just doing that made me much more aware of how I normally work, and gave me the opportunity to refine it.
  • They don't laugh where you think they will - Some of the bits I thought were hilarious got no response from the audience... and they laughed a lot at some bits I didn't think were funny. It reminds me of the Tech/start up concept of minimum viable product - to truely know if something will work, you need to get it to a "customer" and find out what they think.

 If you'd like to see how I went here it is.