If I knew then.

When I first began Stand Up Comedy, I thought there was a formula, a combination to unlocking the secrets to comedy, to writing the perfect joke. I now know that Stand Up is about being myself. I remember my mom telling me that, “just be your self,” I still don’t know that that means. It’s the same as ‘go find yourself’, or ‘let go,’ or, to each their own,’ they’re all subjective and to their own interpretation. After all these years, I’ve realized, being myself means moving into my strengths and putting in the work.

Stand Up is work, like anything else. It’s the same as writing. Writing is re writing . The other day I said, “Comedy is like golf. Let the club do the work.” So, the point of this blog is not only letting go but: “what are you feeding?” This would have been a great question all those years ago to ask myself. What am I trying to reach? What do I want? There’s two things I think we all want: laughter and love. If someone would have gave me this advice, look for what makes me laugh and open my heart! These should be in my material. This is when I happiest, when I’m laughing and when I’m sharing my heart. How do I put that into Stand Up? Story.

In Robert McKee’s epic screen writing book, “Story,” he says: if you’re not going to put yourself into your work, have the courage to be real and authentic, put my book back on the shelf. I don’t want your money.” I paraphrase but this is the gist. I come to the same conclusion and this is after performing Stand Up for 30 years, teaching for 20 and writing 2 novels and three Fringe plays. Take the risk say something about how you really feel, share your secret-self! Balls to the wall! The trick is, do this with vulnerability and honesty, grace and unbounded joy. Fear sucks in stand up and the only way to kill it is to move into and write jokes about why we’re afraid and what we’re afraid of. This reveals who we are and makes a connection with our audience.

Stand Up is a relationship. It’s a marriage with us and our story and our story with an audience. And just like a relationship: opposites attract. This is why the premise is always different or even opposite to the punchline. Opposites attract! Par example’: “If all of us danced like we couldn’t be seen and sang like no one could hear us, they’d be telling us bliss is the lunatic stuck in traffic.”

There’s a risk to “letting go,” of fear based habits. It’s scary because it’s all we know. I’m saying after all these years, I know to reach the places just outside our grasp, we should be laughing when we create and share our stories our Stand Up and opening our hearts and sharing who we are on stage as if we’re in a relationship no matter who you are or how different an audience is because, opposites attract. Allow your story to have all the emotions and colors a painting has but make the 2 most prevalent colors, laughter and love.

You can see me on YOU TUBE and Facebook. To E mail me for bookings as a Stand U and for my classes and Key Notes: paulsveen@shaw.ca

My Next Stand Up Comedy Class begins Monday APRIL 24 in Yuk Yuks Comedy Club. E mail to register: paulsveen@shaw.ca

Why do We Ration Ourselves?

Stand Up Comedy like Public Speaking is a risk. It’s not easy to stand in front a wedding crowd as an MC or speak at a function as a guest speaker or grabbed from a group and being asked to say a few words. We’re put on the spot, we feel the fear surge in us and the person we wish we could be disappears. This is the public speaking world. There are ways to overcome this, formulas we can follow through speaking groups and literature we can read to sharpen our saws to combat ingrained fear habits.

There is a difference between Stand Up and Public speaking and that difference is telling others what they want to hear or telling them something they’ve never heard! Stand Up Comedy is different than public speaking. When it comes to sharing our humor and being effective we have to move beyond being a formulaic speaker to being vulnerable having the courage to share our imperfections and having the creative courage to be ourselves.

I’ve learnt a lot about Stand Up Comedy over 30 years of performing in Clubs, bars and Corporate venues as well as Festivals. I can also add the invaluable education I’ve received in teaching Stand Up for 22 years for Continuing Education and writing three Fringe plays and a Novel, “The Angel’s Claw.” If you want to learn something, teach it. Because I’m committed to my students in both my Metro College Class and my Private Advanced Class, I’ve continued to do what I teach and always reach to be a better performer as well as teacher.

The ‘breakthroughs’ in Stand Up come in: it’s not what happens to us but what we do with what happens to us! When we’re bullied as kids, when we make mistakes and are scolded at home when we have our hearts broken or lose someone, losses remain in us and we forget them but THEY don’t forget us. We learn to protect ourselves, to limit ourselves to what we’ll share with others and even with the people we care about. The hurts that we encounter teach us to be careful to ration- ourselves.

This is the reason when we try Stand Up we’re terrified, protect ourselves by drinking, not performing or when we do, it’s a fractions of what we wanted to perform. We’re also afraid of being heckled being humiliated by an audience member. The thing is, the more we fear something: getting a speeding ticket, being broke, being late, not being funny, the more we attract it. The same is true of attracting a negative reaction from an audience. We get what we give. Our emotions are the fuel for our material and life. But we learn to protect ourselves, be careful, be invisible do what others are doing until we know how to do it. The challenge is: “the fraction of the result that we attract is equal to to the fraction of ourselves that we use.” If we’re only using 20% of our ability why do we expect anything more than 20% of a result?”

The way we achieve more of what we want from ourselves to reach beyond our grasp is to stop rationing yourself allowing yourself to live in scarcity ad being trusting abundance. Our results are not in the habitual 20% of scarcity but in the 40, 50, 70, 90% of abundance. Here are some actions you can take to start achieving abundant results.

  1. Break your set into SHOW and BUSINESS. The SHOW is the YOU in the relationship with your AUDIENCE. The show is having the courage to share your story, your secrets. This is where your comedy treasure is, in your honesty. Mine your stories the ones that reveal you the real you. Work on the material that you want your audience to know about you. I have classes in STAND UP WRITING MECHANICS that will help you build this set. But for now: Look at your stories and find the theme the pattern that runs through your life. This is your market brand. Ask and Answer questions about this pattern and to the stories that carry the pattern. Your best material will begin from this process.
  2. BUSINESS in show business is everything audience: being positive, prepared, rehearsed, kind, doing your time, recording your set and graphing it. (E MAIL ME ABOUT THIS.) Getting to the show early and be humble and sober. Listen don’t wait to talk. Treat the audience like they’re your soul mate. Talk about them. write some material for them, listen to the MC and create material from the audience response.

I’m starting a Stand Up Writing class at the end of April. If you’re interested E MAIL ME: paulsveen@shaw.ca

You can hire me for your Christmas Party or company event as a Comedian, Key Note or bring my Work Shop for a Company Laughter moral booster.

Advanced Class 4: graphing your set.

Great Class on Monday everyone. I can see how hard you’re all working at your material and set. We talked about the value of ‘GRAPHING YOUR SET’ and how to do that. In the ‘LAUGHTER COUNT,’ in the column vertically on the side of the page we insert the numbers I’d shown you. On the bottom of the page we insert the ‘KEY WORD’ of the first joke we’re tracking and the line to the number count on the vertical line. When we record our set and then play it back, we can track our set like it’s a stock. After your graph your set you will end up with a series of lines that are peaks and valleys that coordinate with the amount of laughter each joke achieved.

What do we with this information: 1) If your opening joke doesn’t get more than 5 seconds of laughter, re write it. Try it 3 to 5 times. If it doesn’t get the five seconds, re write it or write a new opener. 2) Take the three jokes that have the highest tracking count in your set and TAG them, put them in the circle and re write them from another perspective or genre, sarcasm or mis-direction and then put them in the set, IN FRONT of the previous joke. You want your set graph to be on a steady climb to your closing joke. 3) Your closing joke should get 10 to 20 seconds of applause and laughter.

POOL: somewhere on the page keep track of how fast you talked, if you said something that you could use for an idea later. Create some action plans you can take to make your set better: being more prepared, rehearsing more or pausing and letting the audience laugh. Keep track of how you felt and what other emotion would be better.

Image result for pictures of graphs

REMEMBER: you’re preforming Monday MARCH 13 at Yuk Yuks Comedy Club. Doors opens 6:30 Show time is 7:30. Tickets are 10$ only at the door. DVD’S Will be available for those who want them. Edited, titled and packaged HD copies of the night’s performances are 20$

REMEMBER: you can book me for your Christmas Party or business event, company moral boosters, work shops or Key Notes. E mail me for info: paulsveen@shaw.ca

I can be seen on YOU TUBE and if you have the chance, please share my web site and class. ( I’m starting another writing class at the end of April. Please share my class info. Any questions please E mail me: paulsveen@shaw.ca

Metro Class 4. Set Mechanics.

Great class last night. Last night the class was about, ‘LETTING GO,” trusting your creative self and instincts and moving into the positive emotions of our creative sand box and away from doubt, frustration and fear. Thank you everyone for working as hard as you are. Lots of laughs last night and I’m going to add, some breakthroughs! Yes this is an ‘Introduction to Stand Up Comedy,’ but we can still push ourselves creatively and take some risks while we’re having fun. It’s why when we did the book exercise so we can see how taking risks and sharing our INTUITION exercise story in class shows us how our stories and the passion we have in sharing them can translate into using the same skills in our material our rehearsing and our performance.

REMEMBER: Our Stand Up Comedy Performance is at Yuk Yuks :Tuesday March 14. Doors open at 6:30 showtime 7:30, tickets are 10$ Dollars only available at the door. The club is located in the Century Casino on 131 Avenue and Fort Road. Show and ticket info: E mail: paulsveen@shaw.ca

SET MECHANICS: 1) Say your story out loud. Your set, your performance is based on the story you choose. 2) Ask yourself what the point of your story is. What ever that point is, this should be your first joke. 3) Look at each sentence in your story and use the sentence as a premise and QUESTION and ASK questions about each sentence. Say the sentence out loud and add the answers you created from the questions. Keep asking the questions and ask from different perspectives on the circle and also from HOW YOU FEEL. If you’re frustrated or lost or intimidated by the premise or joke writing process, Q and A it and talk around it and move into the emotion and  create some material and add it to the story. As you work through each joke, REMEMBER to keep random ideas and brain storm ideas no matter how random, under the heading, “POOL,” at the bottom of the page. These ideas can come in handy.

Last but not least, when you get to the last sentence, ask and answer the questions and rehearse the ideas out loud. If you feel there’s a joke in the set that’s better in your set, put that joke at the end. Always have your best joke closing your set. Be aware of how you’re feeling when you write your jokes and rehearse them. Keep moving into these emotions and writing jokes with them: if it’s apathy or anger, frustration or excitement; write out how you feel. This is the premise. Then look for the unspoken truth in the questions, this is the punchline.

REMEMBER: you can book me for your event, Christmas party, office key note or moral booster. If you’re interested in a one on one Skype class or to be a part of my Advanced Stand Up Class at the end of April: e mail me please: paulsveen@shaw.ca

Please share my class if you want and my YOU TUBE videos and my WEBSITE.

Metro Class 3: Child Inside.

Your class is graduating Tuesday March 14 at Yuk Yuks in Century Casino: 13103 Fort Road Edmonton. Show time is 7:30. Tickets are 10$ at the door. Great Class on Tuesday everyone! Thank you for being in my class and for working as hard as you are. I hope you have an amazing experience in your ‘book exercise.’ Remember, get centered, sit down if you have to, relax, take a few breaths and close your eyes and follow your intuition. Again. this works because it’s asking you to take a risk and think outside yourself, your habits and to trust a sense in you, (your intuition) and this will introduce spontaneity and trust to your performance when you walk out on stage for the first time. Also, you can buy the book and bring it to class or write the name of the book down and tell us about it in class on Tuesday 🙂

REMEMBER: Class 3 is ‘Child Inside.’ We’re talking here about being in your creative sand box on stage. Be five and have fun, be silly and not take yourself so seriously. Be prepared, rehearse, work on your material and joke writing but also have fun, get used to the idea of being limitless and allowing the child inside of you to take part in your performance!

HOMEWORK: 5 to 7 minute set ( heads up at 6 minutes and 30 seconds to wrap it up) ALSO- A two minute story about your book experience 🙂

Choose a story that makes you laugh and shares your theme. Make sure you look at each sentence of your story ( especially the first and last and a few in the middle. I said 5 in class but you choose as many as you want, create at least three if you can 🙂

REMEMBER: when we talk about the child inside we’re talking about emotion, look for the joy and the bewilderment in the sentence, the awe and life lessons. If you can ask what the anger is or the regret or blame, you can ask a child like question. Look for the emotion in the sentence the deep emotion, what is it? What’s the elephant in the room? this is the PUNCHLINE. Ask and answer questions from different points of view on the circle and you will come up with the jokes.

If my story is about playing drums for Stompin Tom Conners, (which I did) I’m going to ask questions from his perspective, people from Nova Scotia, my sixteen year old buddies, my mom. And I’m going to ask questions from my theme and from the child perspective ( was I intimidated, out of my comfort zone was it fun, did I laugh) Then answer them. Talk your story out and ask yourself what the point is to the story and make sure that’s your closing joke. Have fun and tape your set and listen to it a few times before class.

REMEMBER: You can bring me to your Christmas party, company event as a Key note or also to bring my workshop for a retreat or for team motivation and moral!

Please share my class and my web site and you tube videos if you want. Also E MAIL if you have any questions about the class or booking me: paulsveen@shaw.a

Class 4 Advanced Class: Building your set!

I appreciate everyone in my class, your talent and creative courage! Thank you for always pushing yourself and also for being kind to one another in class and for being so supportive and loving your amazing teacher.

REMEMBER: It’s your energy: what you feel when you’re working on your set as well as what you feel when you’re on stage is as important as what you feel off the stage, rehearsing, working on your material and always pushing yourself creatively.

HOME WORK: Choose a story that you feel will be the set for grad night. Choose a story that reveals who you are. The more emotion in the story the greater the connection to who you are and the audience. (REMEMBER to share March 13 with your friends and family and co workers.  Showtime: 7:30 PM, at Yuk Yuks Century Casino, tickets are 10$.

Alright, homework.

  1. Choose a story that reveals your theme. The more you work on joke writing and rehearse the more your theme will manifest.
  2. Write an opening joke and five theme related jokes in your set and then your closing joke.
  3. Rehearse your set each day, record it and listen to it and keep using the circle Q and A method as well as sarcasm and misdirection to create better jokes.

REMEMBER: Sarcasm: premise and the elephant in the room punchline, ( the over the top unspoken truth.)

Misdirection: Premise, amplifiers and unspoken emotional punchline.

EXAMPLE: My wife asked me if she was my best friend. I told her she was my wife best friend. She said, what the hell does that mean! I said, my buddy Darren is my best friend, he does things that buddies do, like, going on an elevator and farting next to an old lady and then moving away, he can make that noise with his hand and arm pit and he drives without insurance, how cool is that? What do I do as your wife best friend, she asked sarcastically. I said, you like to talk about how much you hate my alien science fiction war movies, how much of a slob I am and how you need another two hundred to get your hair styled.

Write out your story and then work on each sentence and add the jokes.

*Opening Joke: “My wife asked me if she was my best friend, I said, a smart man would say yes, that his wife was his BFF, that she was his best buddy, but I’m the guy who puts tape over the oil light, so, I think you know the answer to your question.

SECOND SENTENCE: What the hell does that mean, she asked, relax, you’re my Barbie and I’m your Ken, I’ll tie a sweater around my neck, back the vet out of the playhouse and lets go get some answers on what happened to my crotch.

THIRD SENTENCE: My buddy Darren is my best friend, sorry honey, you don’t know about football, the game stats, QB ratings and rushing yards. She said, either do you, you cheer for the New York Jets.

Keep going through each sentence and ask; what am I trying to say, ask what the elephant in the room is. Identify the emotional truth. This is the punchline. Do this through your entire set. Have fun with this and REMEMBER: What are you trying to achieve with your humor. Who is that version of you and what are they doing differently that you’re not. How do you cross the chasm of who you are now to get to who you want to be? Do you have to rehearse more, work on your joke writing, tape your set and tag it?

I can be seen on Youtube, and Face book. I really appreciate it if you would share my website and video links. Thank you 🙂

I’m available to perform as a Stand Up at your function, company Christmas party, celebration, or meeting. I can also bring my work shop to your work and can he hired as a Key Note. Please E mail me if you’re interested: paulsveen@shaw.ca

If you get the chance, e mail me and share your experience of my class. I really appreciate your kind words.


Why I Love Stand Up Comedy.

I was hooked the first time I laughed, addicted on the power of humor. I know the power of addiction and I make the comparison because humor for any demographic, hospital staff, the police, students, the incarcerated, the elderly; everyone has their own specific brand of giggle that saves them, renews and refills their sails. You know what I’m talking about because you also have your own form of humor that reaches you. I believe humor is three  things. 1) What makes you laugh reaches you, your authentic real self. 2) Humor at it’s best allows those who hear it to feel like they belong, that their normal is normal. 3) It gives never takes, Humor should heal the person that is sharing it and those that are listening.

I’m not sure if everyone has felt this way but it took me a long time to convince myself that I mattered, that I could believe in myself that my dreams mattered. My fascination of laughter and the affects that humor had on me was a path I never really realized that I’d been strolling through the last thirty years. It seemed natural for me to struggle for the punchline, natural to work for the joke the callback the story because humor is my story. Laughter allowed me to align myself effortlessly with the skills that sharpen comedy chops: story, writing mechanics, the emotion and energy that fuels humor. This is a much neglected nugget. I’ve always said the five principles I’ve developed to survive in stand up and then to share in my classes are the same five principles I used to write my first novel, “The Angel’s Claw.”

The five principles are: What is this critic in me that’s killing me and telling me I can’t build a purpose driven life? What’s my theme, how do I be original and get the audience’s attention? How do I tap into my limitless self the ageless child in the eternal sandbox within me? How do I develop and trust my intuition? I believe intuition is the opposite of our critic. This ethereal sense reaches for the bridge that we can’t see, the invisible bridges that are all around us and ask us to take a risk. And last but not least, ‘letting go,’ trusting our laugh, believing in the miracle of humor to bond and to create, to believe we can grow and keep growing and build the life we dream and while we’re doing that, making a difference because, in the end, our humor is a relationship, our normal, our connection with an audience and their same hopes and dreams, our normal meeting theirs Because, after all, it’s laughter and humor is the compass of our life and the opposite of what our critic is, doubt, shame, anger, regret, everything that repulses and deflects opportunity and the dreams we’re reaching for.

I was practicing some joke writing recently. I’ve always adhered to the credo that we should create material from our lives. It’s because our stories have us in them, the unique us, the authentic us.Our stories carry our creative DNA. That means our material has a fiercely original market brand that creates opportunity only our unique selves can attract. But I also like to sharpen my saw on the events that are making the news. I was thinking about the news that Donald Trump has been making. I’ve always said that our material should ‘reveal us,” share our true selves. When we ask and answer questions from “our theme,” the material exposes us and radiates our story. Always look for yourself ‘out there,’ it will make you a better comedian, writer and person. It allows us to embrace our imperfections. Here’s some of the Trump material I developed using my theme: ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’

“I’m not a Trump fan but come on, He has his a Jet, yacht and when he was 30 was a multi billionaire! When I was 30 I was still living in my parent’s basement.”

“As a Canuck, I watch American news like it’s the NHL expansion draft. Trump is that pick everyone’s trying to unload. Teams are shouting at each other, pointing fingers, demanding a better deal but just like hockey, eventually Trump’s going to be the guy in the mullet playing golf.”

If you’re interested in bringing me to your company event as a Comedian, Key Note or for humor Workshop, please E mail me at: paulsveen@shaw.ca

Metro Class 2: Using theme.

Great class Tuesday everyone! Remember: “I also share Humor Works Shops. Key Notes and Stand Up Comedy for private functions as well as Corporate events! I also have an advanced writing class.” If you’re interested in any of these, e mail me at: paulsveen@shaw.ca

Homework for next week: State your theme out loud and then find a 5 to 7 minute story from your life that makes you laugh that shares your theme. This is easy peasy. Have fun with it and remember to write jokes with your first, middle and last joke and as many other moments in your story that you’d like to tag ( write jokes about.) Rehearse out loud, tape your set and listen and Q and A 🙂

The story I shared in class was about fighting my dad. My theme is “I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m doing it any way.” Fighting m dad really shouts I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. He was a war vet and I was 15 going on 3. REMEMBER to simply ASK and ANSWER questions about your story. The bigger the emotion in the joke the greater the laugh. A joke is three things: PREMISE: this is the first part: “I had a colonoscopy. PUNCHLINE: this is the second part. I had to have it done twice because the first time the doctor forgot to take off the LENS-CAP!” The last word is the PUNCH WORD. This is the word that makes the joke tick. It should always be at the end of the joke. If it sin’t, the audience will be giggling while you’re sill talking!

OPENING JOKE: look at your story and ask your self what it’s about! Q and A the sentence and then ask what the deep underlying message is within the premise. This is the punch line.

EXAMPLE: There was talk of a rematch with my dad. ( This is where I ask and answer questions ) Why would I fight my dad again? As a present to his self esteem. Who was promoting the match? I sure as heck wasn’t. I was the one with the most to lose. Here’s the joke I created by simply asking and answering questions. “There was talk of a rematch with my dad. I trained, ran, did sit ups. In the end, I decided to drop three weight classes and fight my sister.

REMEMBER to put your ideas in the circle and approach your joke from other perspectives. EXAMPLE: I’m on top the circle, my dad at the bottom. On the left, my brother, on the right, my mom. Right back to the Q and A. Why wouldn’t my mom stop the fight. Under the rules of dysfunction, no fight can stopped, EVER! Why didn’t my mom talk to my dad? Really. How did mom win her fights? She ignored my dad to death. (I asked questions about control and family dysfunction, forgiveness and anger. My dad shared 10 years of life lessons in a single moment.) So, here’s the second joke I created by asking and answering questions and then looking for the emotional deep meaning.

“My mom tried to stop the fight in her own way, she got up, walked over, turned up the TV and shouted, “Fight quieter, do you want people to think we’re all idiots!”

Look at your story, ask and answer questions about your story and keep asking what is your theme in the joke? Also, state your theme in your set at least three times.  If you have any questions E mail me at: paulsveen@shaw.ca

Please share my web site if you get the chance. http://www.paulsveen.com/

Advanced Class: Tagging Theme

Alright, remember: Your COMEDY GRAD performance is MONDAY March 13:  your set will be 7 minutes. tickets are 10$ at the door. The show starts at 7:30. Be there at least half an hour early. Sit your friends and then sit with your class mates at the same booth. Please have your set playing on your recorder and listening with your ear plugs on.  first I want to say, great class Monday night at Yuk Yuks!” I also want to thank everyone for working so hard! If you want to get even more results, here are some habits you might want to consider: rehears 15 minutes every day, journal 3 pages each day, record your set and listen to it, write out your set onto a menu card and look at it while you’re standing in line. Another great exercise is to imagine the rooms in your house and number them in your mind from ONE to TEN and put parts of your set in each door and practice opening and closing the doors and remembering the material you put in each door. When you go to rehearse your set or perform on stage in class or for grad, simply open the doors and there’s your material!

TAGGING THEME: remember how to write a joke: Premise: A salesman runs out of gas and asks a farmer if he can spend the night. Punchline: The farmer says, “sure, but you’re going to have to stay in the barn with the animals.” The salesman says: “I think I’m in the wrong joke.” (Joke is the punch word, the single most important word in the joke. See how the punch word is at the end of the joke? If it was in the middle of the joke the audience would be laughing while you finished the joke. So, a joke is, beginning, middle and end, just like a story!

Tagging simply means: developing, I’m developing a joke, working on a joke. The reason we want to tag or develop our theme is, your theme, the message or pattern that’s running through your stories is the lynch pin of your stories, the central message or plot point. Your theme is the vein of creative gold in your story, the ones your mining!

How are we writing jokes? We’re taking a premise and finding the elephant in the room, the unspoken emotion in the premise and then either using the two a sarcasm or adding the amplifiers and creating misdirection.

REMEMBER to state your them in your set and create a joke from your first, middle and last sentence in your theme related story. Pick a story that radiates your theme! My story was about ‘fighting my dad,’ that screams my theme, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing,’ . The first sentence in my story is: “Did you ever fight your dad?” ( I begin by asking the elephant in the room questions, these have the deep emotion and insight and and like I’ve said, the more emotion the bigger the laughs!) Why was my dad so mad? ( the answer I came up with was, at least he was finally paying attention to me. So here’s a finished joke with this punch line: “Did you ever fight your dad? My dad ignored me, got my name wrong, looked right through me, so when we had the fight, I thought, my dad’s paying attention to me,  finally!”

TAGGING ALSO MEANS: creating a joke from another joke: here’s a tag: “I only fought my dad the one time. There was talk of a re-match, my mom and siblings and cousins all wanted one. The timing was never right and then there was the whole thing with my father being, dead.”

When I was working on this set and asking questions, the insight that my dad was trying to parent the life he wanted for me and parent the life he didn’t want for me, out of me in the fight we had. I’ll work this premise. It’s going to be a great joke!

REMEMBER: you ca bring me to your event, if your looking for a Key Note, a comedian for your event or want to bring my workshop to your business, please E mail me at: paulsveen@shaw.ca

Tagging Theme.

I’ve written my blog from the Dominican, the North Pole and from both coasts of Canada. I write this blog from Snowmageden in Sparwood BC. I’m stranded in the parking lot of a Tim Horton’s. Wait for it, alright, I;m in the kitchen of my buddy’s awesome house facing the mountains. I’ll make the class up and we’ll still be good for our performance in March.  Alright, last week we played with joke writing mechanics, the Q and A circle perspective exercise and misdirection.

REMEMBER: an answer to a good question can be a great joke and, find the elephant in the room to a premise, ( the hidden unspoken truth) and you have the unseen punchline, especially after we add the amplifiers.

We rehearsed our set for class last week and a set that reveals something about us that we want an audience to know. We also wrote three jokes from this short five minute story: the first, middle and last sentence. Keep rehearsing your class set ( out loud is best)  and record it and listen to your set and allow other perspectives in the set and keep a note pad handy and jot down any fragments or joke ideas that you might have.

In the first home work we tagged our set, the three sentences in your story. I’d like you to start thinking on a different level. Yes it’s important to tag everything, conversations we hear, movies and books we’ve read, pop culture. This keeps us nimble and open to stream of consciousness. But when we tag our theme, we begin to ‘set ourselves apart as Stand Up Comedians. We amplify our market brand and are using our set to broadcast our originality as well as develop an audience and opportunity.

The way we locate our theme in five weeks or less is to (JOURNAL JOURNAL JOURNAL)  I highly recommend you journal and ask the question: what’s the theme the pattern that runs through your stories? what’s the common theme in the big moments of your life: loner, you take the blame, anger, relationship breakups, bad jobs, dysfunction, personal struggle? For me it’s. “I’ve blundered my way through life.” I don’t see the big picture in the moment and shoot myself in the foot. What I’m trying to say is, “I can be a moron.” Let me show you how tagging my theme in one of my ongoing stories amplifies the story a little better than simply writing mechanics.

“I’m in a rental with another comedian and he asks, “are you the guy that wrote ‘The Angel’s Claw?’ I said yeah. He tells me that he wrote a book and he’d sold five hundred copies. “Awesome,” I said. “What’s your book about?” I ask. He gets all excited and turns off the radio because, lets face it, you write a book you’e talking about your baby! “Alright,” he continues, his hands in the air shaped like a box creating the scene,  “Two brothers are told by their dad when he passes he wants his ashes spread over the nearest sea. So it’s the brothers driving to Alaska to toss their dad’s ashes in the Bering Sea.” He stares at me and then snaps his fingers, his way of shouting, “now who’s the author!” There’s this thirty seconds of silence and I say, “The nearest sea to Seattle isn’t the Bering Sea.” He shouts, “yes it is!” more silence, “no it isn’t.” “Yes it is!” “I don’t mean to be a jerk but the Sea of Cortez in Mexico is at LEAST, five hundred miles closer.” There’s another long uncomfortable silence, he slowly turns away from me and types into his phone. A few seconds later he shouts, FUC#!!!!! I laughed so hard. You’d think he’d located the Grand Canyon  abyss plot hole before he sold five hundred copies! This is a true short story and now when I tag it, ( look for the jokes) My question is: what’s the moron factor my theme in the question locating the premise?

I’m asking from MY perspective, remember, you don’t want to make yourself the hero of the story. I want to share the kinks in my armor share my imperfections. I laughed because this is such a Sveen story and because for once it wasn’t me making the blunder.

FIRST JOKE: I looked at the word Angel and asked what’s my moron factor and and I looked at the word ANGEL and thought, ANGLE. Here’s what I worked for: “I gave my buddy the first draft of my novel. He looks at me and asks, “do you have spell check?” I say, “you haven’t opened it.” He says, “It’s called the Angel’s Claw, right?” I nod. He says, ” this is says, The Angles Claw.”

So find locate a theme. t doesn’t have to be, THEE THEME, but find one that makes you laugh and is as authentic as you can allow. Then ask and answer the questions from your theme. I’ll do one more joke here and create a misdirection.

Why did I have a rental? ( My cars are wrecks, I want to get home, after all these years of driving wrecks its my turn to treat myself. I came up with:

“I like to rent a car when I do a show; my car’s a 20 year old wreck, garbage bag over the driver’s window and three doughnut tires. Besides, if we drove the opener’s car I’d have to ride on the handle bars.”

{I created this joke in 30 seconds by asking my theme related question. We’re not trying to split an atom so have fun with this. Look for a theme and then Q and A from the theme. If you find this difficult, write a couple from simply asking questions from the circle. We’ll talk about, ‘writing from theme within a circle next week. Have fun.

REMEMBER: I can be booked for private functions, Key notes, Work Shops and office parties. If you’re writing a book and need help with story, character development, plot, E MAIL ME: paulsveen@shaw.ca

I’m on You Tube and Face Book. You can also purchase my novel off my web site 🙂