From Steve Martin's MasterClass

Bonus Case Study: Speeches

Featuring exclusive footage of a tribute to Tom Hanks at the Museum of Modern Art, Steve dissects some of his favorite speaking engagements and shares his process for delivering comedy gold in speeches.

Topics include: Steve's Tribute to Tom Hanks at the Museum of Modern Art • Start With Subject, Location, and Circumstance • Test Material Inconspicuously


Featuring exclusive footage of a tribute to Tom Hanks at the Museum of Modern Art, Steve dissects some of his favorite speaking engagements and shares his process for delivering comedy gold in speeches.

Topics include: Steve's Tribute to Tom Hanks at the Museum of Modern Art • Start With Subject, Location, and Circumstance • Test Material Inconspicuously

Steve Martin

Teaches Comedy

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Usually when I write jokes now, it's for a situation. And I have kind of an accumulated file of stuff that I can go to. Like one of my favorite bits-- I can only use it every once in a while, though I used that it as Paul Simon was getting the Kennedy Center award. And this one of my favorite jokes. I said, "it would be easy"-- and we're at the Kennedy Center. There's the president. There's, you know, [INAUDIBLE] tuxes and everything. I said-- It would be easy for me to stand up here for the next few minutes and talk about Paul Simon's consummate skill as a songwriter and musician, but this seems to be neither the time nor place. [LAUGHTER] And then I had another joke that I liked. It was in the '90s. And there was this television show that was an award show called The American Comedy Awards. And by the way, there is no American Comedy Awards. It's something a producer made up. [CHUCKLES] So we can put on a show and get paid, and everybody works for free. Uh huh. [LAUGH} So I thought, if I do this, and I'm getting an American Comedy Award-- I was a little depressed. It was early '90s. I should be really funny. I'll just really work on this to try to make it really funny. So my opening joke was, when they called me to tell me I had won the prize of the American Comedy Awards, I just walked around for weeks just trying to care. [LAUGHTER] But I realized, as much as I really like that joke, I can't really use it in other situations because the American Comedy Awards was kind of a low-class-- [LAUGHTER] --thing. And other awards are actually kind of high class. You can't really criticize the award you're getting. So in other words, I can kind of piecemeal things together, which I like to do. I find old things. Like I think that night, I said I have so many people to thank for this. First of all, my wife, [INAUDIBLE]. And of course, my two lovely children, [INAUDIBLE] and [INAUDIBLE]. My agent, [? Beth Anne. ?] So I'm doing a parody of thanking people. And then of course, at the end of it, I want to thank he who is above us all, and for [? the money. ?] [LAUGHTER] And then I thought it worked really well. And then I thought, ah, I'll use it again this other thing. Mm, you know, it's just OK. They were at tables. There's nothing worse than performing for people at round tables, eating. And then half of them have turned their back to you. It still happens. I did this the other day, actually. I was supposed to introduce-- Tom Hanks was getting an award at the Museum of Modern Art for his film work. And he said, would you speak? And I said, OK. So I thought, wait a minute. The thing about Tom Hanks is he's genuinely a nice, interesting, charming person. So I have to say-- I'm going to say that he's a charming, interesting-- And then I thought, OK, what if I had a huge list of his appealing qual...

A comedian walks into a classroom...

One of Steve’s first gigs was at the drive-in movies. When the audience liked a joke, they honked. In this comedy class, Steve shares insights from performing for cars and humans over a 50-year career spanning sold-out arenas and blockbuster films. Learn how to find your voice, gather material, develop an act, and take your comedy writing to the next level.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I've learned that I'm a pretty confused clock ticking french canadian ... Steve Martin, you're the best !!!

1.) STARS like Steve Martin are human beings with all their doubts and ups and down in theirs lifes. 2.) "There is room for You!" that´meens: for me! 3.) Make a problem worse is a good advice.

This class probably had the best balance of useful content and entertainment of any class I've ever taken. Thanks!

Steve Martin’s Masterclass was life-changing.. A wise and humble man who clearly loves laughter, wherever it comes from. My eternal thanks!


Dan U.

Such a beautiful man, talent, with so many skill sets...banjo player, writer, educator etc. this course offers a broad outline to what the basic elements are to successful comedy writing and performance for stand ups. Steve Amertin has been successful in movies, Saturday night love, the theatre, writing plays and scripts...he is the quintessential go to person for all things comedy. He was an icon of the eighties and patented his own form of delivery and kept his routines clean. The course offers a superb artist’s journey through the comedic experience to give students a broad outline to success. If I may help complete this journey,(not to come across as a braggadocio) there are great books on Amazon to read as well as try to take away some points and those can’t buy stage presence, patrented catch phrases, body language, expressions or actual acts. Well excuuuuse me, king tut...born..somewhere, TWO WILD AND CRAAAZY GUYS! Hopefully if you have a really good performer you experience the intimacy, hilarity, you make the social connection and think to yourself....yea....that is what a person like this would say or do or how it plays out in such and such a culture, the impersonations, clever wordage, body language, and of extreme importance....technique. I sure would like to meet Steve Martin....I got some damb good material to ssssshhhhare.

Claudia M.

It was lovely remembering how important humor and..... timing! is in the art of story telling, especially when such an expert in the field can give examples from his enormous body of work. Thank you sir. You are a gentleman and a lady.

Robbie M.

I loved this masterclass. I learned a lot. His attachment to nothing certain and comfort within the uncomfortable is great. Be yourself and let your own creative originality lead was what I took from it mostly. A zen lesson, almost spiritual. Thank you, Steve.


Thanks Steve. Great show w/ MS in Waukegan. Figured it was time to let you finish your thoughts after seeing you.

Gary J.

There were a number of things I enjoyed about this course. Interesting to me as a stand up is that many of the things I do: writing, editing, learning and performing is done much the same way Steve does it. I took comfort in this and it let me know that I was on the right track. It has been said, "it doesn't matter where you are; it is the direction you are headed." I loved his thoughts, suggestions and the way he presented them. Being a stand up is not a destination, but rather a journey. This class made my continual stand up journey a bit easier.

Tom S.

Steve Martin was a huge influence on me when I was in High School. After all these years, I see how much thought and craftsmanship went into the material that seemed so spontaneous and casually delivered. Bravo Mr. Martin!

Jeanetta C.

I love these MasterClasses and being able to pop in & out for a lesson without worrying about deadlines! Steve Martin's MasterClass about Humor was enjoyable and will help me include some humor in my writing - which was my goals for this class.

Joel S.

I guess I was mistaken, I was looking for a class from Steve Martin the cordwainer. I was hoping to be able to bring shoes back to the children of my village, last Winter was rough for them.


For whatever reason, I wasn't expecting this class to be as good as it is. I learned so much and enjoyed it thoroughly. Steve you are brilliant. Thank you for raising my level. You made a difference. I shall not forget. Thank you.


You thought a great Masterclass. Enjoyable, and I took away some good advice that I hope to apply in my acting career. I now view talent in a different light. Everyone has talent in some ways, but it must be nurtured with a string of work to grow stronger... And you Mr Steve Martin are simply amazing. Thanks, and God bless you ✌🏻❤️🙂😎