Modeling Comedians’ Techniques – Stand Up Comedy Classes – Greg Dean

[music] [applause] Ask your question again. So you says, like, model yourself after a comedian, or maybe see yourself in a comedian out there, like comedian modeling. What do you mean by that? Modeling another comedian is a really good thing to do. So there’s upsides and downsides with this whole thing. Okay. The downside is that you’ll end up behaving like that comedian. Okay. And you’ll end up actually doing an imitation of them. I mean, I did Robin Williams for awhile, you know…
Woah, yeah, woah, hahaha! You know, and I would do everything as fast as I could. You know? And if Steve Martin was, you know, delivering things and George Carlin, I tried to write like him, it was all language, etc, etc. But you have to be careful that you don’t, uh… so take on their mannerisms when you’re performing that it blights your own personality out. Okay. The point of modeling, is to extract to excellence. That’s what it’s all about. I mean, and that’s
what I’ve done for comedy in general. My whole curriculum beginning at advanced is watching what… modeling out what great comedy writers have done, great humor theorists have done, and what great comedians have done and are doing. Okay. I’ve invented nothing. I identify and if it doesn’t have a name, a technique or a mechanism or a principal doesn’t have a name, I give it a name.
That’s the only thing I’ve really invented. Modeling out’s really good. The point though is to go, what’s the technique? How did this comedian do this particular thing?
How did that person handle it? Like with Steve Martin, Steve Martin was a lot of ways smarter than most comedians because he as a person, or as a comedian, had to write for a character. The character was the jerk. And to watch him then
figure out, Oh, I’m going to do a really good trick, a juggling trick or balloon animals or play an instrument
or whatever he’d do, and then go, now how can I make everybody laugh at
this character being incompetent? Where he himself was an extremely competent
human being. Okay. He’s writing for a character. So, and watch how he would take, where he would juggle and then he would juggle cats. [laughter] So he’s taking this amazing skill and then giving it to a jerk. So only a jerk would juggle cats, right? So, in part of that is… that’s what you do is pick your favorite comedian and watch them and go, how does Eddie Izzard do an encore all in French? We’ve got the key words of certain things and then
he spatially sorted and set the tableau, the table, and the monkey, and the tree. They were… he visualized them, and then as he said these French things, we were looking at the pictures that he created on the stage as he went through the machinations of him trying to learn French, as I remember, and those
are the only three phrases he came away with, and how he would work those three phrases
into his normal French conversation, which is what made it so funny is that the only way you can talk to somebody, he’s talking about a table, a tree, and a monkey, as I remember. Okay. So how did he do that? The other thing I modeled after him, he did a piece
where they were trying to name Jerry Dorsey. He said, I’d like to see how they worked that out. Okay. So he’s like… now he goes into the world, see,
this is what he did. He went into that scene, right? And he became the agent, and he’s going, okay, okay, we’re going to have a couple of names, so, what about Monkey bunk hypa thal? No, no, no. Swattybut tinky pot. Wallybunk City too, hunky bunky totty tot. Jerry Dorsey. Nah. Watty bot hunkybutt, Wallyswitt Sunky tat. Okay. And if I found myself laughing more and more,
by the way, if you don’t know, Englebert Humperdinck’s real name is Jerry Dorsey. That’s why that was so funny. First of all, he set the pattern right? So what’s the connector for all that bit? And I’d never seen anybody use it since I modeled it out. It’s the rhythm of the name Englebert Humperdinck, okay. That’s what every one of those names had in common. If he was just making up stupid names,
it’d just be him making up stupid names. Right. And that’s… it can be kind of funny, but it’s not a joke. It’s gotta have a connector. The connector was the rhythm. He’s smart enough to consciously or unconsciously
know each one of those machinations, every one of those ideas had to have a connector
and it was duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh. That would, I modeled that out and went, Whoa,
look at that. Wow. I hope someday I find some jokes, I can use the rhythm of a piece of language as a connector, because other people are going to look at that and go, that’s just funny. It is funny. But it’s also got perfect joke structure. There’s two interpretations of one thing every single time he did it. So modeling them out. So to answer your question, yes. And at home do the impersonation,
but ask yourself what is the mechanism? What is the technique that they’re using? What is a principal that they’re kind of following
when they’re doing that? And so, then what do you want to do is steal that. Because it’s universal. It’s public domain. Nobody owns
a technique that somebody is using to structure a routine or a laugh. They don’t, nobody owns that. That’s what you want to pick up, pick those out and go, wow, let me use that in my show some way. You know, let me try to do and find, you know, so find where I’m using the rhythm of some language for the connectors for all… let me try to reproduce
what they’re doing, but writing from there. Writing original bits and original material. [applause]

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5 thoughts on “Modeling Comedians’ Techniques – Stand Up Comedy Classes – Greg Dean

  1. "The point of modeling is to extract excellence." Such a brilliant phrase, my head almost exploded when you said it.

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