Class 1 Stand Up Writing.


First, I want to thank all of you for taking my Stand Up Writing Class! The goal of my class is: 1) We locate and creatively mine your theme, the pattern that’s embedded in your humor and stories. This pattern is your market brand and is what makes you unique and stand out as a stand up! 2) We’re going to take TWO to THREE of your theme laden stories and combine them into one, SEVEN to TEN minute set. ( the first set is called the FRAME. Other sets embedded in the FRAME are called RINGS. We will start and end on one set and insert two other sets within the first. 3) We will tag ( create jokes from the content of our three stories and amplify our theme and humor.

HOMEWORK: For our next class have one story from your life that you feel tells us something about you, Rehearse this story, know it. Then take a second story and put it in the middle of the first story, start and finish on the first story.

TAGGING/ WRITING A JOKE: “Someone told me where I could pick quarter sized blue berries.” ( This is going to be the FRAME for my set, the outline set that I begin and end with. My theme is: I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m doing it anyway.) TAGGING a PREMISE: The first thing we do is locate the key words in the premise: SOMEONE, PICK,QUARTER SIZED, BLUE BERRIES. ( I like to write down everything that comes to my mind that’s connected to my PREMISE: Safeway, produce, friends, neighbors, fruit…. Talk it out, start by brainstorming around your idea! FIRST JOKE: “Picking berries in the wild is an awesome adventure in the forest, hiking along a path, kneeling by a creek, going into anaphylactic shock getting medevaced like you’re in Iraq and going to a trauma center because of multiple wasp bites!”  (Notice how the beginning of this joke is different then the end of the joke? This is called misdirection. The beginning is serene the end is terror. See if you can create some misdirection for class. A joke is three things: Premise, the idea, the punchline, the set up the middle of the joke and the punchline, the end of the joke that holds the punch word, the ONE WORD that creates the laughter. What’s the punch word in the joke I wrote?

Look at each sentence in your story and tag it. Insert a second story in the middle and start and finish on the first story. Any questions E mail me at:

REMEMBER: to start telling all your friends and family about our comedy night in October. (date to be decided.) Also, YOU CAN BOOK ME FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS PARTY. See me on YOU TUBE My WEB SITE AND FACEBOOK.  Have Fun. See you Monday.

We are on the Stage what we are off it.

We are on the stage what we are off it. This statement might be difficult to understand the way I phrased it but the statement and it’s meaning have been boiled to it’s core meaning: the face we’re sharing with the world will be the results we achieve under the lights. What we do, hope, are courageous about, insecure and desperate about, our addictions and the things we reach for off the stage, are the same results we’ll either achieve or repulse when we’re on it. We are on the stage what we are off it.

Stand Up Comedy is 2 things: show and business. THE SHOW is everything creative: craft, writing, rehearsing, reading, listening, sharing advice and ‘the more.’ The more is not making everything about us in an arena that makes everything about us: donating your humor to make a difference, taking a new comedian under your wing and helping them, being present in conversations, forgiving yourself for bombing and forgiving the audience. Seeing the trees when you’re on the road and tasting the food when we’re at the gig, breathing in the audience and connecting to them through our vulnerability. Stand Up is an activity that TAKES a lot. We owe it to ourselves to GIVE something back, without payment.

The second thing in Stand Up is THE BUSINESS: The business is everything professional: knowing your set and having the courage to be outside of it, spontaneous. Remembering the audience is half the relationship, so, considering them as if they’re sitting across from you on a first date has to be in our attitude. Not being high or drunk when we’re on stage. That space we call the stage is our office. Treat it like one. Dress in clothes that are clean and pressed, clothes that make you feel good but also say you’re large and in charge! Have a plan. Have a plan when and how you write and rehearse. Have a plan for the week, month, year, five years. Return phone calls as soon as you’re able. Video tape all your sets and graph them. Also, tag the five best jokes in each set, each and every time!

Stand up is Show and Business. The one element that connects the two, is energy. What we feel is what amplifies both, the show and business. If we’re angry, insecure, tired or ecstatic, the emotions we feel are also part of what we’re either attracting or pushing away. Being vulnerable, honest, sharing our secrets and simply ourselves, treating others the way we’d like to be treated, are the pathways to what we’re working toward. Being desperate, jealous, vindictive, are the sure way to repulse what you’re actualizing. We are on the stage what we are on it.

My next writing class begins September 12 at Yuk Yuks Edmonton. If you’re interested, E MAIL ME:


What They Know That We Don’t. My Stand Up Class Begins September 12th.

Nernie, ‘my wife’ and I were driving to a Wicca market on Saturday to check out the neat metaphysical things that were there. On the way, an ambulance began to blare a few blocks behind us. We turned right, the ambulance turned right. We turned left, the ambulance turned left. Where ever we went, the ambulance horn squealed behind us following closer and closer! Finally, Nernie says: “I wonder where they’re going? What do they know that we don’t?”

In a way, this is a revelation to Stand Up Comedy only deeper. It might be better said this way: “what do you know that you don’t want others to know? What are the secrets and fears we’re afraid to share? The afraid part, the stuff we’re terrified to share is exactly what we should be exploring. It’s our treasure our theme, our market brand and should be included in our punchlines. ( The bigger the secret we share with an audience the more the audience says, ‘ I believe that too.’ My next class is built around unlocking each student’s deepest self and putting that into their, premises, punchlines, theme, their set. This will attract THEIR AUDIENCE.

This is the outline: 1) Locate the 5 biggest moments of our life. 2) Locate the theme/ pattern in these 5 stories. 3) Define, articulate our theme/ market brand. 4) Choose the 1 story out of the 5 that has the strongest attachment to your theme. 5) Build a set like tree rings with the 5 stories embedded within each other but starting and ending on the 1st story. 6)  Tag each beginning and end of each ring with misdirection. 7) End with a set within a set, within a set ending with a set ripe with theme and our market brand, creating a set original, polished with deep well crafted material that’s got wields an unbreakable bond to who you are and connection to audiences. FACT!!! When we know who we are and share that through our humor we stop repulsing the life we’re supposed to live and attract the opportunities and purpose filled life we were meant to live.

This class is filling up. If you’re interested, really want to work and grow as a Stand Up and a Writer, have a ton of fun, E mail me at:

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Comedians.

I’ve been teaching Stand Up since 1995. I’ve been performing Stand Up since 1985. As I prepare to teach another class at Yuk Yuks Edmonton; (the class begins Monday September the 12th and ends Monday Oct 17. The Comedy Grad is Monday October 24.) I’ve been looking at the habits that can make a difference in your Stand Up Comedy.

  1. Theme: what are the stories in your life, the big stories that have stuck with you from childhood? These stories carry your “MITACOMEDY-DNA. The big stories in your life is your market brand, the stories that make your stand up unique! I’ve always been this person that was driven to be creative. In the core of this need: Stand Up, Play Writing, Writing Novels, the habits that I’ve found are most paramount are the ones that make us different, traits others might find as weaknesses within us, are strengths!
  2. OUR SECRETS: Mine your secrets! The things you’re afraid to share, the failures, heartbreaks, addictions, fears; all these things and more are filled with the ingredients that connect us to an audience. My dad called me “IDIOT.” It took me years to even say this word. Now it’s my theme. All my material is based on the one word I was afraid to even speak. I have other kinks in my armor, I used to have low self esteem, I was a slob! “My mother was a slob. When she went into assisted living, Scientists cleaned out her house and found the hoarding gene!” I picked up some of her hoarding habits. Like most comics, I’ve learned to throw garbage in the back of a rental. After a couple of weeks, the car would be packed ceiling high with wrappers, pizza boxes and papers. This was a habit that I had to learn to undo, just as I learned to undo my fear of speaking, organizing my ideas, and low self esteem!
  3. Framing! The ability to amplify (TAG) one of your theme inspired stories into a set is a Comedy Gold mine! In my class we will work on the mechanics of joke writing and story. And we accomplish this by moving into the classic fears most comedians have: doubt, frustration, work ethic and cultivating NEW habits aligned with OUR strengths. What would Sveen do? I decided I wanted to break my habit of having a messy vehicle. I wasn’t prepared emotionally to actually clean the vehicle all at once. I decided to be proactive and grab one large fist full of garbage and throw it out every time I got out of my car. I had a corporate out of town so I went to the bank to get some cash. As I left the car I shoved a fist full of garbage into a pocket and walked into the bank. There was a line up of a hundred people and they were pissed! Apparently the main frame computer had crashed and NO ONE was able to get any money! I finally get to the front of the line. The customer in front of me at the teller was losing his mind, shouting something about opening the account! He stomps out, I step to the teller and ask for 300$. She says: “unless I have the letter that I was given when I opened the account I wasn’t able to withdraw any funds.” I wanted to say, what idiot carries that #!+* letter around? Then, I remembered the fist full of garbage in my pocket! I dig it out and place the pile on the counter. The teller looks at me and digs into the mess with a pencil and screams: “OH MY GOD!” The letter was in the pile! I get my 300 large and walk out of the bank and someone asks how I was able to get some cash! I looked at the guy and said” because I’m an idiot!:  (This is all absolutely true and I told this story at a bank corporate recently filled with tags and it killed!)
  4. I’ll share the other habits in another blog soon. If you want the full effect, take my Stand Up Writing Class begging Monday September 12th. Message me on FACEBOOK or E MAIL ME AT:

I fell off the Stage. My next writing Class begins August 29.

My first time on stage, 20 of my best friends in the back of the club, watching and me, in front of a packed club. I panicked! I froze in the lights paralyzed. After an eternity I said, “sorry, I can’t do this,”  then walked into the darkness off the stage onto a table full of drinks. The table collapsed and so did my life! This is my 4th decade in Stand Up and really, I should have quit the first time I was on stage. I have an hour “Comedy Now” Special, I’ve performed at the Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Halifax and Saint John’s Comedy Festivals. I’ve  written and performed 3 Fringe plays, written a novel, “The Angel’s Claw.” I’m working on my 2nd book and have headlined every major comedy club in Canada, I’ve been teaching Stand Up for Continuing Education for 20 plus years and my private Stand Up Writing Class for 10. I’ve been told speaking in public is the hardest thing we can do. Being vulnerable and honest and sharing your secrets through humor might be more difficult.

Here’s the reasons I never quit. When I decided to try Stand Up for the first time I thought that there was a formula a combination lock, so to speak, that if I could figure out I would unlock the secrets to Comedy. As I drove to the club for the first time I was filled with a sense of purpose, a feeling that I was about to do what I was born to, be a Stand Up Comedian. When I froze on stage and fell onto the table, the club exploded in laughter, laughing AT not WITH! I ran out of the club leaving my jacket with my keys in the back of the club. I ran home, broken and lost and unplugged my phone and stayed in bed for three days and replayed my experience over and over.

What I learnt from this experience was the power of my emotions and energy. I was passionate about Stand Up and yes I was humiliated and it wouldn’t be the last time but I decided not to quit. If the pain of the train wreck of my first experience was so devastating, the joy of nailing a set must be incredible and I needed to find it. Stand Up is about STORY, our story. The reasons I was drawn to comedy are the ideas I explore and work on and share through my class. What I experience and learn through action is what I teach. I share what I’ve earned the right to share. Each of us has our own stories of success and defeat, learning and being lost, heart break and triumph!

When I first began Stand Up I thought there was a formula. I’ve worked for 4 decades to define the information I’ve worked for. This August 29 I’m sharing these insights in my Stand Up Writing class. Everything I teach is based on honesty, vulnerability, writing mechanics and story. Come to my class and develop your passion into a set and share it with an audience. I promise you won’t fall, quite the opposite, you’ll grow wings and fly!

E MAIL me for class information:

Stand Up Writing Class Begins August 29

“I learnt to fight by watching my parents. One day a bully at school was picking on me so I thought, ‘what would my mom do?’ So I threw a picture of my dad at the kid and yelled, “I never loved you the marriage is a sham!”                                                                                                                                             A good joke does one thing well, it makes us laugh. It should achieve several other things as well though: make us think, create a buzz, have a shelf life and create a home for our theme, the emotion and message embedded in the joke. If we allow this to happen, we begin to find our audience. After 20 years of teaching Stand Up and over 30 years touring I’ve found the material from our life, from our secrets is the place to start, when it comes to writing jokes. The material from our story, our life lessons, heart break, losses, our victories, these moments are where our humor is born. The reason for this is the emotion living inside these moments. The bigger the emotion the bigger the laugh!

I’ll be teaching the writing mechanics of Stand Up beginning August 29 at Yuk Yuks Comedy Club in Edmonton’s Century Casino. I’ll be covering the process of targeting the specific moments of our lives that hold the creative DNA each student’s theme/market brand carries. There’s a pattern in the big moments of our lives. We’ll mine these moments for the specific message our story carries, this theme is the reason your material is unique and is the holy grail of stand up, STORY!

We’ll also be covering:  Framing, (inserting material in a story from our theme, Tagging, ( creating more material from what we already have) Call backs, (making reference to previous material which gives a 7 to 10 minute set, history) Embedding emotion into our material, Graphing our set           ( locating the laughs in our set and amplifying /tagging them) developing sarcasm and misdirection, the most powerful forms of stand up! If you’re interested, E mail me at: or private message me on Face Book.

The Best Version of Us.

I’m going to attempt to post several short blogs through the week. It’s important to me to share everything I can that I’ve learnt, discovered, researched and realized through my work as a writer, adult educator and Stand Up Comedian. Do you have a plan, a vision of what your dream life would be? Are you living by the ocean? Do you have a lake house? Are you helping the homeless? Are you wealthy? What is your dream life?

I feel, even joke writing is part of the life I’m actualizing. I’ve always worked on the deeper meaning and embedded emotions of humor. I feel each and every joke I write, especially the material I work on out of one one of my workshops and stand up classes, the material I build for my set! I choose to be passionate and excited about working on this material because it’s feeding the version of me I’m feeding , the best version of me, the Paul Sveen that’s actualizing the life I dream. I believe, the energy we have from our hearts must align with the life we dream to live. This energy must be honest and be present in everything we do; from stand up, writing, meeting people, being of service.                                                                                                         My next Stand Up Class will begin Monday August 29th at Yuk Yuks in Edmonton. If you’re interested please E mail me about the class, my Key Notes or Corporate Stand Up Shows for your Company:

I’ll be exploring the inner truths of who I really am and the honesty of joke writing in my next blog. This is where laughter and the best of who we are, meet the life we dream. Please if you will, take a look at my link and share if you can, my first novel that I’ve written. “The Angel’s Claw.”

Yes This Really Happened!

Thank you for reading my blog. The fact that you’ve taken the time from your day to read this, is a massive deal to me! I wish you good fortune and a quick journey to the life you dream! In this series I’m attempting to share the lessons of some of the corner-stone moments of my life. First and foremost, at no point in my life have I EVER had a plan, never! I’ve always put myself in places where I was WAY over my head and imploded. I see now, looking back that if I would have latched onto one of the smarter people in the room and did what they did, I might have had better results, no! In every class I was ever in, I was in the back, doodling on a note pad, imagining far away planets or wishing I had a cape!

Everything I did in my early years was to get my dad’s attention. My father was a musician, he played accordion music and was either working, teaching or tired, and otherwise, busy. One day, we had just come back from church and a quick stop at the store, me my brother and four sisters piled out of the station wagon and made a B-line for the park, My mother stopped us and shouted: “everyone grab  a bag of groceries!” I don’t know why, or where it came from but with perfect comic timing, I stopped, turned toward my dad and said, “call of the wild.” A miracle happened! My dad not only smiled he absolutely howled in laughter. As my mother was beating me, I stored the nugget in my small mind; “laughter was how I would get my dad’s attention.” And thus began my addiction to approval!

I never saw the lesson then and really, I wouldn’t see it for another 3 decades but, there are signs moments in our lives that are magic. The moments where our energy levels expand within us and create joy are the moments that reveal our purpose. When we create joy for others as well as ourselves, we then reach a part of our being the moment before we never knew existed. That part of us that radiates this positive energy, IS WHO WE ARE. I’ll expand off this insight in my next blog.

I’ll share my first Stand Up set with you next time. I was 7 and it was in thee front room of the house I still live in. YIKES! Please share your thoughts about my blog and about your light moments on my FACE BOOK PAGE. Thank you for reading this 🙂

I need to share this.

I’ve been in a really hurting place. My sorrow comes from losing my Father in Law Pete and my wife’s indescribable heartbreak. The shock of my father in law, falling from a ladder, being paralyzed and taken off life support, all within a week has literally sucked the life force from our spirits! Everyone grieves differently. I’ve been staggered by this overwhelming loss. Everything seems unimportant, bills, phone calls, conversations, waking up, but I have a choice. The pain of losing someone never goes away and the more I choose to feel, holding Pete’s hand as he passed away the less unbroken I’ll be. I’ve put one foot in front of the other and fought with myself to be present, to find nuggets of joy choosing the possibility of healing over the abyss of sorrow. I’ve chosen to continue to feel the moment no matter how difficult, to feel anger, insecurity, my pain but also immerse myself in all things abundant.

The mirror reflecting back at me within this tragedy is the revelation that I’ve been an expert at not feeling, hiding in food, alcohol, drama, anger, my list is endless. Noreen my amazing wife has had more than her share of hurt as well as you reading this. I’ve had pain but my expertise in avoiding it has only imprisoned me in the pain I was fighting to avoid. I don’t know very much but I do know this; the person I’m capable of being will be found in me feeling and being present. I’ve existed a large chunk of my life using small portions of who I am, rationing myself because I was hiding inside myself while the rest of me, the man I was capable of being, waited. This man, the person I’ve always been reaching for is all the things I’ve been terrified to breathe in and feel, my failures, blame, the things I’ve been unable to forgive, my passions, dreams  and my love. As I feel the loss of my father in law, holding his hand as we played Amazing Grace by Elvis, I’m beginning to remember his laugh, his hugs, the twinkle in his eyes, his love. Pete taught me that my love is who I am. All matters of the heart is how I will continue to navigate our heartbreak and my love, how I will continue to reach for the man I am.

Here’s the link to Metro Colleges Class Blog. They’ll be running an interview I had with them last week about my introduction to Stand Up Comedy Class. Please take a look at the article. It will be up after lunch on April the 7th. And please share the link I would really appreciate it 🙂

CLASS 4: he first thing we’re going to do is write out the FRAME: the story your building your set around. Rehearse your frame. know the story and make sure that your FRAME is based on your THEME, your MARKET BRAND. Your story reveals you to your audience! Make sure each and every point in your FRAME is ANSWERED! Here’s the formula for set mechanics: 1) FRAME 2) Insert opening and closing jokes. ( The opening joke is the second best joke in your set. The closing joke is YOUR BEST JOKE. 3) TAG EVERY POINT IN YOUR FRAME. ( Make sure your energy about your set is positive. What you feel about your set will have as much impact in connecting to your audience as your material) 4) Any material you have that’s connected to your set and theme can be INSERTED into your frame. Any material that you like that has a positive vibe and is connected to your theme you can put in your set.

REHEARSE: Talk your set out loud, tape it, listen to it, do you like where it closes? Put your material into the CIRCLE and Q and A it! Ask what you’re resisting in a premise, what’s the elephant in the room? What’s the emotion embedded in the premise? What are POWER WORDS associated to this emotion? Make sure these KEY WORDS are in your joke. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE NO OPEN PREMISES. Answer every question in each premise and look at them, is this what you’re trying to say? WE HAVE TO KNOW WHAT IT ISN’T BEFORE WE CAN KNOW WHAT IT IS?

RE WRITE your jokes in misdirection: PREMISE, OPPOSING PUNCHLINE, THREE AMPLIFYING STATEMENTS THAT ARE CONNECTED TO THE PREMISE. The emotion in your premise and the key words attached to the emotion are the spark that causes the explosion. HAVE FUN. Work on your set, then re work it. Show time for TUESDAY April 12 is 7:30 please invite your friends and family!!!

REMEMBER: my novel “The Angel’s Claw.”is available at North Town Indigo: 780-478-1414

I can be seen on YOU TUBE and FACE BOOK.