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Arts & Entertainment

Editing (cont'd)

Steve Martin

Lesson time 15:25 min

With particular emphasis on the life of a written piece once it's in the hands of actors and directors, Steve continues discussing his editing practices. He then puts his critical eye into action to analyze Beth's sketch.

Steve Martin
Teaches Comedy
Steve Martin teaches you everything from finding your comedic voice to nailing your act.


In movies lines aren't as precious because, you know, often, in order to make it feel real, the line is not so written. It's much more conversational. Sometimes you get a great line and you want to keep it that way, but a lot of times I would look over best lines from the movies of 2008 and you'd look down the list and it would be, "Let's get out of here!", you know, and they're really talking about the moment in the movie, not the line. You only test dialogue by running it with the actors, and I remember a scene in a movie I did, which I wrote, called Simples Twist of Fate-- it was not a big hit or anything-- and I had a scene that was between two characters, I wasn't in it, and I was having trouble making the links-- I needed to get like three points made in this scene, which is always trouble, and I thought, OK, here's point one, here's point two. It's not it's not flowing great but also, on the other hand, I'm thinking this is the way people talk. They kind of jump around a little bit, they change the subject. So I made an excuse and said, OK, that will be fine, and they went off to shoot the scene-- I wasn't there-- and when it came back it had been changed, more correctly, by the actors because they were having trouble leaping from one thought to the next as actors, and it worked out fine, but I find if an actor's having trouble, I'm suspicious of the line. I always investigate the line. If they can't remember it for some reason it means maybe it's not following correctly. So, I really just listen to the flow of the conversation and also the actor's trouble could indicate a problem with the line. [MUSIC PLAYING] Hey, let's take a look at this sketch that Beth wrote that I found very funny and it's really good. It's about some very smug people having a creepy upper-class memory and I'm looking at it and I'm going well, OK, it's five pages, and I did feel that maybe there's like one beat too many that, you know, you get the idea. Now you're just reiterating the idea, but anyway, this is Remember the Titanic. They're sitting on a lawn, what a lovely breeze, Isabela says, "Hey, that reminds me of the time we took that trip on that ocean liner. What was that called? Oh yes, the RMS Titanic. What a what a fine trip that was." "Oh, yes, the Titanic. That was the spring of 1945. Do I remember that correctly?" "Oh, yes, remember Evelyn? That's the year you started wearing those lovely long necklaces." "Oh, yes, but remember how they were always getting caught on the soup ladles in the parlor? What a disaster." "But ladies, let's not forget-- that trip wasn't all fun and games." "Oh, yes, you and Evelyn got into that lover's spat." "I got so mad I threw a half full cup of tea at you." "Yes, but luckily something caused the ship to jerk sharply and you missed, throwing the cup overboard." "Oh, thank heavens I didn't hurt you." Sorry, I'm not doing justice to you...

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'm a writer, so my favorite part was when Steve talked about how he built exposition into the opening of "Meteor Showers." I also love comedy and these classes reminded me how much I like it and inspired me to find ways to build in more comedy into my writing. Thanks!

This help me feel better about my fears of doing stand up. Just knowing that more about going through the motions and that it's ok to not be perfect.

This class encouraged me to see possibilities in my life, not only for performance & comedy, but for cultivating joy at home, in the workplace, & in the process of finding oneself.

This class was amazing, I now will be able to improve my writing and at 75 years old, will try to do some stand up. I've got lots of material...


Brian H.

The segments with the students don’t work for me. They are all deferential to the point of phoniness. They laugh a little too readily at just the right points, are unnaturally quick to agree with every comment and criticism, and seem overly eager to be teacher’s pets. Or maybe they’re all just super-nice and I’m a jerk for disbelieving them.


I was very impressed by the effort made by Mr. Martin to make this lesson so professional. It is a great discussion that involves the personal effort needed to be made in order to do it correctly.

Jesse P.

The trick leg line could come before the boat race to introduce the concept and cut out the back and forth of questions even more. loved the story though.

Tori O.

Great script and analysis, but that ending, Steve...hysterical. You're the man!!

Chris W.

I love that Steve Martin will criticize. I’ve seen this convention of an instructor sitting with prospects, and all the others seem unwilling to give a hard negative. You can’t learn from somebody who won’t tell it how it is. I’d rather have people be merciless and help me then worry about my ego.

David M.

I'm not qualified to critique Beth's Titantic sketch but I will say I really like it!

Kevin M.

I think it would be funny if beth added a line like , "I'll send my sister an invitation but don't be surprised if she gives us the cold shoulder"

Margaret M.

With Beth's piece, the point is that wealthy, upper-class people are oblivious to the life-and-death concerns of less well off people--but there's no "aha" that connects it to contemporary concerns. I think the piece would work well as a two-layered family history thing. Wealthy contemporary people are talking obliviously about health care and immigration, say, and then the ancestral portraits on the walls come alive (like the posters did in that SNL sketch with Pete Davidson) to discuss the Titanic in the same terms.

Michael O.

Making hay out of great misfortune can bomb quickly. Beth's scene engaged as original in a black humor vein. And it was genuinely funny. Not sure I tracked Steve's specific edits. I have edited and rearranged in the manner he prescribes, much to the benefit of many a project.

Colleen D.

It was fun reading those famous lines. Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to create something that could be as memorable as those on the list? We just need to keep creating and who knows? This class has been great! I've learned so much from Steve and of all the time with students I do feel I got the most from this last one with Beth. Thanks, Steve!