Monthly Archives: July 2014

Stand Up Writing. Class 5

before I begin, if you have the chance, check out my recently published novel “The Angel’s Claw.” It’s on my web site,  check it out please. I’m also having a Stand Up Writing work shop beginning September 8th in Edmonton. E mail me at paulsveen@shaw if you’re interested.

Alright, I made the first 4 instalments of this blog “too my page.” Why? Because I’m Paul Sveen. That’s what I do. We talked about: 1) premise (idea) 2) emotions within the premise. 3) Statements about the premise. ( These will become the punch line) 4) Q and A, Asking and answering questions about your premise. (These will also become  material but it’s more developed because it comes from different perspectives. Different points on the circle.)
5) Punch Words. In any joke, there’s a single word that triggers the explosion. In joke writing, this is the PUNCH WORD. This word is usually where most people ruin jokes, in the telling and writing.

So lets compile the key words that are associated with a picnic: blanket ( blankly is funnier) basket ( do you se the misdirection with this word?) wine ( more misdirection) Sarcasm is the most used vehicle for STAND UP COMEDY  but MISDIRECTION is the gold. Misdirection is where the audience doesn’t see the punch word coming . Lets try using the word WINE.

1st, everyone thinks you’re talking about the stuff you drink. The MISDIRECTION would come in another usage of the word: WHINE! I played with Q and A and arrived at

“I’m a prude when it comes to picnics. no wine! I hate the constant. ‘it’s raining, the duct tape hurts, why do you have a shovel?”

Look at your punch words and try some misdirection.

E mail me at


How to write a joke. Class 2

Before we begin class 2, I’d like to mention that I’m having a Stand Up Writing work shop beginning September 8th in Edmonton. The class is 5 weeks . If  you’re interested, E mail me for details at Or message me on face book.                                                                                                                    We chose the premise, picnic, or I chose the premise “picnic.”  It’s a rather lifeless premise but a good place to begin. I like emotion in a joke. Usually the darker the better. I also like MIS- DIRECTION, which I cover in my writing class.

First, we located the emotion of our premise. Second, lets choose some statements that convey HOW WE FEEL about our premise.

PICNIC: they’re so much trouble. they’re for couples who just met on plenty of fish. Where do you find a red and white checkered blanket? Where do you find a wicker basket, a spot under a tree next to a creek.  We’er going to be stabbed by the Zodiac killer.

1)Keep writing down your statements. 2) As any and all ideas bubble up with in you, no matter how out there, write them down! 3) Who ever else is in your picnic: date, spouse, pet, tree, bug, sky, GIVE THEM THEIR OWN VOICE , write down statements from THEIR PERSPECTIVE.

It took 14 years to write my first book ‘The Angel’s Claw.” I had 10 hour days sitting at a computer writing 1 of my 6 drafts. I remember once beginning to write at 8 in the morning and never stopped until 3 AM. If you read my book, I believe I was writing the chapter MINT. That was an amazing day. I remember walking outside, late October, just like the setting in my book.

I was walking outside, it felt like it was about to snow and here I was, living in my parent’s basement, making a few dollars a month as a comedian and I was trying to pound out a book. Who was I kidding? “Why am I doing this?” I asked myself. A voice in  me said: “You’re doing it for me.” I thought I was crazy, exhausted, writing all day, having a mid life crisis. I’m talking to myself, I thought. The voice said: “look up.”

I looked up into a pitch black starless night. There’s nothing there, I thought. “Keep looking” the voice said. Then, as I looked into the dark, I saw a distant faint star, then another and another. The voice in me said: “the more you look for me the more you’ll see me.”

The voice I’m talking about is God, the Universe or what ever you want to call it. I did not write this book myself. There were powers greater then me around me, pushing me the entire time I was writing “The Angel’s Claw.” And now, my book is up on Book Baby, Amazon, I books, Kobo, Kindle and more and I now have people who are reading my book, messaging me, telling me what they think of my book. I’m overwhelmed and in awe of these posts, gobsmacked!

I’m starting my second book tomorrow , it will be finished in 6 months and if I can do it so can you. It’s not a matter of how, just when and the answer is now.

Everyone whom I was blessed enough to have either, in my introductory to humour or my advanced stand up writing class, could you please E mail me your experience. I’m looking for your lightbulb moment, your struggles, your highs and lows  your stories in class, on your grad night and what you’ve learned since in your personal journey exploring your humour.

I’ve been mulling over this book for ten years and now I ‘m writing a short paper back on my experiences as a person comedian and teacher all within the five principles of my classes and years on tour as a stand up. It’s not  going to be academic or clinical. It’s going to be the “life lessons” the real moments that stopped me in my tracks and left me a different person: when I fell off the stage the first time I was on it, the slow painful evolution from shtick to being myself, the struggle to share the stories from my life , being vulnerable and the emotions and energy of the miracle that is humour.

I have a title for this book and an outline. This book is about “US” Our stories together, how we changed, were healed and in turn used humour to heal others. This book isn’t a trick. This book is true blue heart stories. That’s what humour is. Humour to me is the highest part of being. I resonate in purpose and am exactly where I’m supposed to be when I’m giddy.

I’d like to use your name if you’d allow me in the stories of you and I’d be honoured to share in this book. If you don’t want your name used I’ll make an alias, one that while I’m creating will make me pee a little, which is the exact purpose of this book. God bless you I hope to hear from you soon. I hope to have this finished in 6 months. Please E mail your class stories and humour connected experiences to:

Comedy carved out my first book.

Im, sitting here the day after my book was launched on  I clicked on my book cover, saw the story synopsis and instantly thought of all the times I was in a rental, or in the back of a comedy club telling someone about the book I was writing, and all the while thinking I was just talking out of my hat.

Well, it’s out there. “The Angel’s Claw.” my first book is out there, and every word was heavy lifting, every word was as if I was walking up hill toward some far off distant summit.

But, somewhere in me, I had this passion to carve the story out of me and most of it, I learnt to write from stand up comedy. I wrote a gruesome novel about Angel’s ( I know angel’s isn’t supposed to be capitalized but I’m capitalizing it anyway out of respect for Angel’s)

Any who, where was I.  Oh yah, stand up taught my the power of energy and emotion and how to embed that into a stanza paragraph or chapter. Stand up taught me timing, misdirection, story!!! I wrote a book about  a demon-apacocolyps and the chops I learnt in road side bars, night clubs and working on my set in the back of coffee shops was a large part of it.

Thank you everyone who reads my book. I’m honoured, honestly truly humbled you’d read my book! But I also need to thank humour! Without you, without the ability to laugh at myself and not to take me so seriously,  I wouldn’t have had the courage to write my first novel. Thank you readers, and thank you comedy Gods.

Game Changers.

I’ve been playing with an idea, ” who the hell was that angry teenager I used to be?” By the way, I was that kid into my mid 30’s, even later, but at least later I was aware of the asshole I had parasitically leaching off my consciences.

When I look at a premise I like to identify the emotions first. I think being a self centred directionless neophyte the emotions are: pity, blame and immaturity.

Then I’d like to get a hold of the premise by making statements about it, especially in the context of the frame or story I gleaned the chunk from. I think the game changer is, instead of simply commenting on the premise, “summarize” the premise!

When I sit down and begin looking at who I was, for the first time I take owner ship of not only the kid I used to be but also tag the premise from a whole new perspective.

Before , like every kid I blamed my parents, mostly my dad because he was a musician trying to pay the bills playing the accordion, my mom a little but not much, she was working three jobs so I didn’t really see her a lot, my dad either come to think of it.

I saw my friends, the ones I haven’t seen in a life time and smoke pot get hammered and bitch about my parents. And it’s funny, “the teenagers that bitch the most about adults are the ones that are furthest away from being one.”


I want to thank Ashley at Yuk’s Edmonton for making my last stand up writing class happen! This was an extraordinary venue, great stage, seats, sound system, awesome all around!

I also want to thank everyone in my class for your creative courage and work ethic to journal, write for others in the class and continually take risks to expand your comfort zone.

Brandon, you are already a great stand up comic, your style, your mechanics your courage. Keep being you, keep taking risks and be humble and don’t let the business make you cynical.

Lyla, I love your effortless personality. Nothing stops you, you’re fearless and you have a passion for humour because of what humour does, it heals. That’s what you do Lyla, heal us with your story.

Clint. Thank you for again taking my class and working as hard as you do. You’re a student of comedy, you’re driven to be the best you can be, always, and each time I hear you, you prove your passion.

Ryan. I applaud you Ryan for allowing me to share what I know about humour, writing, and vulnerability. I was blown away by your performance at Yuks. You and I have similar back grounds in dysfunction , and you week by week slowly allowed who you really were to be your performance.

Audrey. You fought for you Audrey. This was an advanced comedy class and you didn’t flinch. You had an idea what you wanted to do in my class but instead, allowed me to teach my class and share honesty , voice, commitment, story, joke mechanics and framing. You were amazing Audrey, you absolutely destroyed on your first time on stage.

I’m proud of all of you! If anyone is interested in my next writing class or have questions about my recently released novel, “The Angel’s Claw.” E mail me at: