Monthly Archives: September 2015

Framing. September 24. 2015


Story! The most important element of our set is STORY, beginning, middle and end. Story mirrors everything we do in sharing our craft our creativity. A simple joke: “A horse walks into a bar. The waitress says, ‘what’s with the long face?’ this simple joke is a story. In the bigger picture, something like a 7 to 10 minute set, we could string a a bunch of disjointed simple generic jokes together and get laughs but we won’t really be remembered, the audience won’t find out anything about who we are and we move into the realm of just doing time. Our story, our secrets stories that we’re afraid to share are our brand, our Coke, they reveal who we are and connect to an audience on a deeper level because of their honesty.

FRAMING: What framing is, is a story from our life that reveals our THEME. My theme is, ( I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m doing it anyway, Idiot)  Here’s an example:  “1) The first time I tried stand up comedy I fell off the stage into the audience.2) It was my turn at an open mike to share my jokes, I walked up, stood under the light and forgot my name, that I was humane, forgot my jokes and most important, forgot where the steps were to get off the stage.  3) After about 45 seconds of abject silence, I just turned and stepped where I thought the steps were. 4) I plunged off the side of the stage face first onto a table. 5) The table collapsed, all the drinks fell onto me, I got up, ran to the first door I saw in my panic and, disappeared to the sounds of being laughed at, not with, because there is a big difference my friends.”6) Exit Paul Sveen. And scene!

This is a powerful story. REMEMBER, the more emotion in a story the bigger the laughs and the greater the connection to an audience. What we do now, is look at each sentence in our story and TAG IT, (TAGGING, creating, developing material, jokes from a premise or existing joke.)

So lets look at the first sentence. I numbered each sentence so I know how many to tag. Write the first sentence out. The first sentence is going to be our first joke, our OPENING JOKE. This is important because an OPENING JOKE should get an audience’s attention, it sets up our performance, No pressure.

OPENING JOKE: The first time I tried stand up comedy I fell off the stage into the audience. 1) Locate the emotion of the sentence: desperation, panic, fear, regret, doubt. 2) Create the vertical and horizontal lines across a page. 3) Choose four different perspectives to write from; me, the audience, my dad the critic, the MC. REMEMBER to write the word POOL near the bottom of the page.

WE BEGIN: We start with examining the KEY WORDS in the  sentence: FIRST, TRIED, TIME, STAGE, FELL, AUDIENCE. (These could be the PUNCH WORD of a joke I develop)  From my perspective I’m going to Q and A the sentence:1) Why did I forget my material? 2)Why was I so scared? 3)What was I afraid of? 4)Why did I go on stage unprepared? 5)Why did I run out of the club? NOW, we ANSWER the questions:1) I didn’t have material. I had street jokes that I forgot. 2)I was terrified because I felt the audience wouldn’t like me. 3) I was afraid of being rejected. 4) I thought if I could be myself I would be fine. 5) I ran out because I was humiliated.

I begin by TALKING around the material I’ve developed and by continuing to Q and A the 4 perspectives.

JOKE 1) “My first time trying stand up comedy I fell off the stage.  Let me put this into perspective. This is like a virgin’s first sexual experience waking up hand cuffed naked and duct taped to a hot water tank.”   I’ll tag this joke, looking for different ways to articulate it. Writing is re writing! ( Under pool I wrote, worst case scenario.) This could e a great premise. Also I’m going to add, everyone is afraid of public speaking.)

Alright, your turn. Q and A from the 4 perspectives. Keep talking out loud around each sentence and keep digging for the emotion, and keep editing! Add the questions and answers together and rewrite them.



Class 2 September 14/ Framing

Alright, great first class and second class!!!! For your homework next Monday September 21, have a 3 to 5 Minute set. RELAX, HAVE FUN! What ever you bring to class we can build off. These are the steps for your homework 🙂

We’re going to take a moment from your life and write some material for it. This is called, TAGGING. When we take an idea and expand off of it, the stand up term is called TAGGING. Tagging is the same as building off or expanding.

Tagging and using it in on a memory or story from your life is different than lets say, writing jokes about the news. If I play with a news story like a robotic lawn mower, I can QUESTION and Answer the PREMISE within the CIRCLE from different perspectives and come up with a joke like: “You can now buy a Robot Lawn Mower. How much does it cost? If you’re too lazy to get off the couch to mow your lawn, you can own a Lawn Robot for the low low price of, DIABETES!”

Now, if I have a story about lawn work I can drop this joke into y set but what I’m asking is: 1) Locate a moment that really tells us about you. 2) Q and A EACH SENTENCE OF THE STORY and INSERT THE JOKE AFTER EACH SENTENCE. (you’re tagging each sentence. 3) Tape your story with it’s tags and rehearse it for Monday’s class.

EXAMPLE: I was in a Canadian Tire last Spring waiting for my car to get fixed, (TAG, I was having it neutered.) so I decided to jump on some of the Christmas sales and do my Christmas shopping 8 months early.(I’LL TAG THIS) I bought one of those rings you can slip through 18 plastic bags so as to make my wife’s grocery experience more pleasurable. ( I see a tag here for the word RING.) I also got her a New York Jets steering wheel cover (TAG) and get this, a talking Christmas card that when you opened it, played Jingle bells, (TAG) well it would of if the battery didn’t die waiting 8 months to be opened.  I’ll tag this story for class. Please do the same. with your story.

We’ll be playing with MISDIRECTION in the next class.

REMEMBER: YOU CAN SEE ME ON YOU TUBE AND FACE BOOK. You can also have me appear at your Christmas Party. Ask me in class about my work shops for your office and retreats. E mail me for any questions at:


Class 1 August 31

Thank you Carla, Greg, Brian and Sarah for being in my Stand-Up writing class. The first class is an introduction to stand up mechanics.  We as well as our audience are conditioned to story, our favorite book, movie, painting and commercial, yes, commercials are story.  A well crafted joke is the same thing, a story, a beginning, middle and end.  Here’s the steps in constructing a joke.

1)Premise: this is the idea. “A horse walks into a bar”. 2) Punchline: “The waitress looks at the horse and says.” this is the sentence where the information is. In a script it’s called the ‘plot point.’ the inciting incident, the scene where the alien pops out of someone’s stomach! 3)Punch Word: “What’s with the long face.” in every joke, there’s a single word that creates the laughter, it’s the match that lights the dynamite. “A horse walks into a bar. The waitress looks at the horse and says, what’s with the long face?” (FACE) is the punch word. Notice it’s the last word in the joke? If we write a joke an the punch word is in the middle of the joke, your audience will be giggling before you get to the end of the joke.

This is where we begin. What do you care about?  In the first class we talked about, “everyone wants to be happy” and “children ruin everything.” The premise, “kids ruin everything.” We began looking at the idea by writing: “kids ruin everything.” on top a blank page. 3/4 way down the page we wrote the word. POOL. When we get a random idea, a quote, something that gets our interest but may not be connected to the premise, like the phrase, “we can’t have nice things.” write it under the word pool, we might be able to use the idea later and the rest of the ideas later.  By talking out the premise, we came up with the things a child might ruin. ( As I thought of the word ruin, I thought of the “Roman Ruins.” I jotted it down under pool.” What do kids ruin: clothes, furniture, toys. We then thought of something a child couldn’t ruin and this is how the joke developed: “Kids ruin everything, clothes, furniture, toys. You know what they can’t ruin, a 3/4 inch reinforced steel cage. Try ruin your way out of that Timmy.” (If I replaced the word TOYS, with the word, MARRIAGES, does that help the joke? ) I ask, because the more emotion in the joke the better the joke.

The second idea was: “Everyone wants to be happy.” The way we worked this premise and the first premise was begin asking questions: Does everyone want to be happy? If the first 2 letters in happiness spell “HA” Why aren’t more people laughing? If wining the lottery makes you happy why are so many people miserable when they win ?  And here’s the 1st joke. ”
“Not everyone is happy when they win the lottery, you know why? The giant check, it weighs a ton! The first thing you scream when you win the lottery shouldn’t be MEDIC!”

HOME WORK: Take an idea you like, write it on top a page, pool near the bottom and ask and answer some questions about the premise. Above the premise, write the emotion, what is the feeling behind the lottery for example? Greed, desperation, peace, joy, excitement? Ask and answer questions about the emotion of your premise. Also, what are you afraid or resisting to share in your idea? Ask and answer questions about that also. Next class, have 5 jokes please.  Record your first ideas and listen to them, talk out loud, write them out. We begin here. Have fun . See you on September 14 at Yuk Yuks in Century Casino at 7:00 PM. E mail me if you have any questions.

You can book me to bring a work shop to your event and also have me perform at your’s or a friend’s Christmas Party or Fund Raiser. E mail me for details. I can be seen on You Tube and Face Book. Also, our class grad is October 6th. 7:30. Tickets are 10$ at the door. We’re raising funds for Highlands Dog Rescue. Spread the word.