'A rather lengthy but I believe necessary rant, pitch, intro to how I learned comedy and so forth'.
Let me say first off very simply that if you have a chance to take a comedy class and it helps motivate you to face a very scary thing (public speaking)...then go for it. Education of any sort is a good thing especially if it helps you face and conquer a fear and raise your self esteem, who cares if you're ever going to be a pro standup comedian...the fact that you faced it is a powerful good you've done yourself.
Lately though I have heard a few creditable comedians rile against comedy classes....and I know why.
They will tell you with certainty that you can't teach comedy. The way you learn standup is to just get on stage and see what works...it's all trial and error. Find your own path etc etc.
Though I will admit that is much how I learned the craft over the 4 decades that I've been surfing within it, and without a doubt I consider myself lucky even. I came into it all in a magnificent time...the late 70s and early 80s.
During that decade or so I had influences that read like a 'who's who' of standup comedy. Awesome comedy minds such as Ellen Degeneres, Ron White, Sinbad, Drew Carey, Steve Harvey, Billy Gardel, Thea Vidale, Tom Rhodes,Tim Wilson, Mark Roberts, George Lopez, and on an on... all opened for me. Yes I said OPENED shows for me.
And though I'm sorry to say we can't all hang out constantly and go to the corner bar anymore and talk shop... I still currently maintain friendships with writers from the 'Tonight Show', 'Saturday Night Live' and brilliant visionaries Steve and Leo writers for 'Space Jam'- 'Santa Claus' and other movies. Mark Roberts (Mike & Molly) and I should give special mention to John Riggi, one of the executive producers of '30 Rock'. John is a long time friend who I introduced to standup back in 1980. We use to drive around and do small town cornfield one-nighters in his old Pinto. These wonderful creative people definitely had their influences on me. It was like and still is participating in a comedy workshop just being around this elite bracket of extreme funny people..they were and are true marquee pros that you learn from- 24-7.
By the way the list of comedians I've worked with and even written for goes on and on with such names as the late Bill Hicks, Kevin Nealon, Louis Black, Elaine Boozler, Lenny Clark, Emo, Judy Tenuta, Kenny Rogerson, Jimmy Tingle, Pulitzer prize winning Mike Peters and Jay Leno of course, all of which I pow wowed with coming up and most recently.
With all that name dropping out of the way- that I think was necessary to convey this simple message-so let me get it out of the way- I'M NOT YOUR FATHER'S COMEDY TEACHER! Feel me? I can tell you with conviction all those successful spiritual people and not to mention my own personal obsession taught me a lot individually and as a group- jeeeez the lessons amounted to me earning a PHD with decades of field research in standup comedy... not to mention the business thereof. It was well worth doing standup just to meet and be friends with such artists. I wouldn't change it for the world. The collective genius or at least near genius influences over the years of such people connected me to a tidal wave of positive energy I continue to absorb and I'm certain is exactly why I continue a love affair with the comedy business and remain so motivated to keeping it healthy, honest and thriving.
So now on to this horrid thing the comedy class and the you can't teach comedy debate.
Bottom line is I agree with the rantings of excellent standups such as Doug Stanhope who bewails comedy classes and deems them worthless rip offs. YES I said I AGREE with them. For the most part comedy classes are seriously lacking and the fact is- you can't teach comedy. True. Most comedy classes are in fact run by people far below skilled performer level and all that most newbies will get out of said comedy class is a superficial intro. No doubt...absolute truth -you can't teach comedy.
BUT- having said that.
I have found due to my background and personal whatever obsessed command I have with it- I CAN coach the hell out of it. The workshop I conduct 'the dojo' has as much in common with a comedy class as a WW I airplane has with a ballistic missile. The dojo is NOT a comedy class. It is an entire process of writing sessions where the ideas begin and are flushed out, outloud workshops to gain the correct language and attitude, and then 'face the music' type live shows. All while being supported within a group that is all pulling together for one goal, on stage success.
Though I allow and encourage beginners to join the dojo, it is for the very most part a comedy performance workshop (a one room school house for comedy artists) where ANY comedian on ANY level can improve their comedy writing skills and performance techniques and will be coached on their level according to their needs. i can accomplish that because I am a personal coach with experience and skills I can back it up with. I have done the work, continue to do the work and make the sacrifices to acquire what it takes not only to do it but to- within the dojo setting- relay the information to a performer to take him/her to higher levels. My resume is ongoing. My dojo is ever evolving. End of story. You can forget that BS about people teach because they can't do- crap. I have done, I do, I continue to do. Try me! This is what makes the dojo very very different and is a powerful benefit to the new faces and experienced comedians that attend it.
My goal is to be the best comedy writing and performance coach in America.
I am certain and the track record bares me out that I have the background, experience, and that special coaching soul to be able to step outside myself and work for the performer within his/her own voice and character. And if you yet don't have that voice and or character then that is where we start.
I began helping and running writer's camps in the 80's while traveling and headlining. These 'comedy camps' were attended by a world of successful comedians, writers and producers in Los Angeles and New York. I hope this helps you understand I am no johnny come lately to this comedy workshop/class thing.
Now you would think I charge an incredible amount of money huh? Huge fees? lol Though I'm aware I'm worth it...I am proud, hmmmm or is it sad to say I am probably THE lowest paid comedy instructor in the world.
My fee comes out to minimum wage when you consider how much time I spend with dojo'ers not only live weekly but online as well helping with writing, bit expansion and other bits of comedy biz. If I'm in it for the money I'm sure going about it in the wrong way. lol
Recently I've taken on the online type situation to work with people thru the use of video critiques, writing session emails and skype sessions etc. Possibly soon using Facebook video meets and chats to work one on one with people all over the country.
I'm also available to critique videos 5 up to 45 mins in length. Rate quotes available.
If the dojo in any aspect interests you feel free to contact me for more info or if you have further questions.
I am certain you will be pleased as to the process and the results.
Contact me about my dojos in and around Ohio, MI, KY and for the traveling dojo as well.
Any follow ups to this blog can be directed to me Chili Challis...contact me here...c'mon make me back some of this stuff up! lol
or hit me up with an email directly at