This half term, we did something completely different… we ran a 4 day intensive comedy course called The Chuckle Club!
We have noticed over the year, that a lot of our members are quite funny… actually not quite funny, but REALLY funny! Whether is is making us laugh with crazy characters or telling us stories about what they get up to at school or with their siblings and friends, it’s clear that they have natural talent.
So, this got us thinking… so much so that we designed a new course around them!
Maddy and Maeve, who let’s face it both like to laugh a lot, got to work on how to teach comedy. They discovered that it’s quite hard to put your finger on what actually makes something funny! So a couple of hours of watching sketches and stand-up on YouTube, chatting about how they both go about creating work, and reading up on what other people do to teach comedy,. Maddy and Maeve found a really simple structure to follow.
Day 1 – Sketch Comedy
Our members arrived on day one having been swotting up on jokes from their joke books in preparation for the course – which was brilliant, because it meant that straight away they could share some funnies, make each other laugh and get to know each other – there were a mixture of Saturday and Sunday members, so some people didn’t know each other at all, which was a bit nerve-wracking to begin with. Soon enough though, after a few games and some discussion, we forgot all about that and were getting on like a house on fire!
A big part of comedy and improvisation is the importance of not allowing your brain to censor itself, so we started out with a lot of games and activities that revolved around getting rid of all the ‘logical’ stuff so that the crazy/ funny/ silly stuff could come out. One of these exercises involves imagining that you are reaching into a big box and pulling stuff out – as you do so you name the stuff. This was strange at first, but everyone soon got used to it not making sense any more.
We then looked at some examples of sketches on YouTube… like this one:
Through this, we started to learnt about things like:
Juxtaposition – when two things are put together to show how the contrast with each other e.g. Made In Chelsea behaviour but with people on an estate in Peckham.
Inversion – when you flip an idea on its head to make it funny.
Repetition – repeating an action, phrase or idea e.g. the head movements in the video.
The members went off in groups and thought about the following things:
Thinkig about people and public places
- People you find there
- ‘Normal’ activities and/or emotions you see there
- Not ‘Normal’ activities/emotions
- Not ‘Normal’ people you’d find there
They came up with some brilliant ideas!
Once they’d picked the ones they wanted to work on, everyone started to make there scenes and we asked them to concentrate really hard on making sure they knew:
We spend the whole afternoon, working on bits, showing them back, getting feedback, and improving further.
We ended up with Justin Bieber as a maths teacher, Jeremy Kyle getting sacked and misbehaving in public, The Queen wanting to go and do normal stuff, like going to the swimming baths with her chauffeur… it’s safe to say that using Juxtaposition wasn’t a challenge for these guys!
Day 2 – Stand up
After a brilliant first day, we got on to something a bit more challenge and for some… SCARY – Stand up comedy!
After playing some warm up games like Giants, Wizards and Elves, Bing Bong Choir and Sharky Sharky…
We got on with deconstructing the art of the Stand-Up Comedy ‘bit’. Some of this stuff is quite hard to work out – we know we find something funny, but often we don’t know why! To help us, again we watched a few examples to see if we could work it out…
We found that there is kind of a formula to a lot of stand up routines… it goes a bit like this:
- Explain a thing
- Give your opinion about
- Imagine what might happen if …………….(???) (make it as big, silly or unexpected as possible)
- Act out your imagined scene, playing all the characters
To help stimulate the ideas, we wanted everyone think about things that were personal to them… so we asked them to brainstorm:
1) Favourite things:
2) Things you hate:
3) Favourite or Did you know? facts:
4) Things you love and/or hate about:
Celebrities, School, Kids, manners, spelling, grammar, lies, adverts, lyrics, sayings… you get the idea.
Everyone then went away and worked out what they wanted to say – some worked in pairs so they could bounce ideas off each other. They came up with some brilliant material, so brilliant sometimes it felt like they were seasoned professionals!
Day 3 – develop and rehearse
Day 3, was the day for people to decide what type of comedy, they wanted to develop further. Some people felt that sketch comedy suited them better, but others really like the challenge of doing stand up, and many had formed double-acts with other members.
So we split up, with Maeve and Kulraj working with the stand-ups and Maddy with the sketch comedy team – even managed to develop on of the sketch ideas from Day 1 into a sketch that the whole group could be in too.
Day 4 – The show!
Sadly, all good things come to an end. The last day was mainly about finalizing the routines, making a running order and preparing to welcome our audience!
However, we did do some feedback too on how we thought the week went…