Monthly Archives: February 2019

February 25 Class 1. Story is the Boss.

First, I want to thank each and everyone of you for being in my ‘Stand Up Writing Class.’ I promise I will give this class and each and everyone of you personally, everything I have as a teacher, author and comedian to you. I only ask, if at anytime in this class, if you feel stuck, overwhelmed, lost or frozen in any of the principles, or homework, please keep it to yourself, I have a class to run. (KIDDING!!!) E mail me or pull me aside in the class and we’ll work it out, promise 🙂 I can’t make anyone do the homework or writing assignments. It’s up to everyone to do the work and if you do, your public speaking, your writing and confidence will escalate and begin reaping rewards. But it’s up to you.

Alright, homework for next Monday, March 4th: look at your 5 favorite books, songs, movies and then 5 memorable moments from your life and find a pattern a theme that connects the five moments from your life. This is your market brand, your mission statement. Your material will have this theme running through it and we’ll develop it in the class. This theme allows you to stand out and be unique. It also allows you to attract an audience and opportunity. Your theme gives you an identity and connects you to an audience and makes you MEMORABLE.

The outline for this class is: A theme based personal story from your life. We will create material from your stories, opening jokes, closing jokes, callbacks, foreshadowing jokes as well as learning to tag/ write jokes from other perspectives, embed emotion and cultivate the joke writing genres of sarcasm and misdirection.

JOKE WRITING: Premise: the idea. Punch-line: the point. (We use the Question and Answer exercise to begin the joke writing process. We begin by mining the emotion and point of each sentence of our story/set.)  We also ask of the premise: what’s at stake in the relationship in the premise, even if the relationship is with ourselves, a plant, the neighbor or aliens. What’s at stake? In the punch-line we ask- what am I afraid to say, what’s the secret?

Here’s a joke we wrote in class yesterday from a random premise, not one from our theme. The premise was the Oilers.

“I was struggling to get the money together to go to an Oilers game. I decided to spend my money on something way cheaper and less painful and paid someone to attack me with a nail gun.” (What’s at stake here in the premise? budgeting, fighting to get the money together to support your team. What’s the thing you don’t want to say? It’s less painful to be attacked by a nail gun then watch a hockey team.) We achieved this joke by asking and answering questions.

HOME WORK: For the 2nd class have a 2 to 4 minute THEME BASED set for class. I want you to write three jokes, an opener- a joke that gets our attention . Have a joke for the middle, a joke that really carries your theme and a closing joke, a theme based joke that makes you memorable.

I’ll be sharing a set on owning a crap car. Here’s the first sentence of my theme based set/story: “You know how you know you own a crap car? When you speed up to pass someone they go faster. Because no one wants to be passed by a thirty year old rusted Buick that’s on fire.”

What’s at stake of having a crap car? What am I afraid to say or admit? I questioned and answered this. I would insert this joke into my story, It carries my theme.

“I realize my crap car’s a hazard. But I kind of believe in reincarnation. I can get another life. Where am I going to get another 30 year old Buick?”

REMEMBER: at the bottom of your joke writing page underline the word POOL and use the space beneath it to jot down random ideas, premises and inspiration that occurs while you’re working on your set.  You can come back and maybe use an idea. If you don’t do this you’ll forget the ideas 🙂

Have fun. remember to journal 3 pages everyday and concentrate on the class, joke writing, your set, theme, ideas from the class 🙂

February 25 Stand Up Writing Class is filling up.

There is no real way I can describe the power of humor. We all know from personal experience what real deep laughter can do for us. Laughter changes us physiologically. It changes the way we feel and also the way those around us feel. I’m not sure if the kind of laughter that we remember from years ago is a small miracle or a gigantic one. Well there are no small miracles so, laughter, any kind of laughter, the moments that make us smile, laugh out loud or allows us to forget for only a few moments what we’re going through or afraid to face; laughter is a God send.

This will be my 26th year of teaching Stand Up Comedy. My 15th year of teaching Stand Up Writing. Both classes are different. One is an introduction. The other, the class beginning next Monday at Yuk’s Edmonton, is creative business of Stand Up: this class is the elements of Story. The tagging or developing of ideas within your story. Jokes aren’t created because we find a punchline. Material is created because we find ourselves within our story.

Humor can be developed from any idea, politics, space, gum. The class I teach works on the principle of developing material from different perspectives then just our own. I believe writer’s block is founded in being stuck in the same perspective. The more emotion in a joke, the better the joke, the laughter and connection to an audience. When the joke is from OUR OWN story, then the material is carrying our theme.

If we take a random joke idea, ‘The Oilers,’ this is a ‘TOPICAL,’ premise, an idea in media. Here’s a random joke I developed from the principles of writing mechanics I teach in my class. 1)  Connor McDavid’s supposed to be the best player in the world and the Oilers are in last place. I played ball hockey with a kid named Barney Zepher. He scored two goals every game and he wasn’t even the best player on our block! 2) FYI Connor, when you’re trying to tip a puck in the net, take a deep breath and shout, CAR!!! That’s from Barney. You’re welcome.

Now, when we take a random idea and add emotion, the material is amplified. Cheering for the Oilers is like being in a bad marriage, I think we should start seeing other teams. We can re write this joke from another perspective and add amplifiers. But that’s week two of the class.

If you’re interested in Stand Up, Public Speaking or writing, and want to be part of my class, e mail me please:


February 25 Stand Up Writing Class.


I have been performing and teaching Stand Up for over thirty years. I come from stand up from a writing back ground: TWO NOVELS,  PLAYWRIGHT/ THREE FRINGE PLAYS, A NATIONAL TEACHING AWARD, COMEDY NOW, AND Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Halifax and Saint John’s Comedy Festivals. The reason I list these is not to impress but to show how my Stand Up Writing class is effected by other writing genres. An opening joke must get the audience’s attention. It should also set up your theme, the pattern running through the stories of your life, your market brand. The final closing joke in your set should tie up your set and leave the audience with no doubt what your message is.

  1. We will also be covering perspective, looking at ideas and moments from each student’s life from different points of view. The secret to Stand Up and Story telling is sharing the moments that we’re afraid to share; the moments that we keep hidden. These moments have our theme absolutely reach an audience.
  2. TAGGING: We will explore the writing mechanics of joke writing and then use them to amplify our story.
  3. Energy frequency. When we’re afraid, so is an audience. Our energy influences us creatively; when we’re having fun so is our audience. 
  4. DEFINING our goals. Just like aligning our emotions and energy in our material, we can also sequence our energy to where we ask and work towards where our Stand Up and Writing is taking us.
  5. Working on our work. We will be sharing our material in class as well as helping others in the class write their material. We will rehearse and record our performances and learning to graph our sets so we can be more successful as STAND UPS and Writers.