Arts & Entertainment

Finding Your Comedic Voice

Steve Martin

Lesson time 10:36 min

Figuring out what you have to say can be one of the most daunting tasks a comedian faces. Steve provides some effective techniques for identifying your own unique voice and channeling it into comedy.

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

Topics include: Liberate Your Individuality • Tap Into Your Cultural Perspective • Characterize Yourself • Establish a Manifesto • Define Your Taste


When I went to college, I had what I would call an existential crisis, or existential revelation that I would never amount to anything if I didn't have my own voice, which meant that my act, so-called, which was maybe 15 minutes-- at best, 20 minutes-- would have to be expunged of all previous material-- all material not only that had been done before, but that sounded like it had been done before. But then I had a real crisis. I didn't know how to write comedy material at all, not one idea. And I thought, well, I laugh in life. I laugh in life a lot-- my friends. But I'll just observe what it was that made me laugh, and maybe I'll find something there. And so that's how I started. That was kind of successful. But really, I was in college at the time studying philosophy. So my mind was very abstract thinking, and trying to examine everything. And I thought, let's try to examine comedy. Let's break it down to nothing. And let's build it up from scratch and see what it can be. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I started in Orange County, California, there were no tutors. There was nowhere to go. And in a sense, that was a very good thing. Because I developed my own style. I had no banjo teachers. I developed my own style. It's what I call a work-around. You're not going by the book. And even if you think you are, you're not. You're straying. And those little strays make you unique and different from everybody else. . I think that your ideas are down here, and your mind is up here. And your mind is keeping those ideas from surfacing. And it's just that little bit of unlocking. It's finding your individuality, the thing that makes you unique, or that you can fake that makes you unique, because you're smart and clever, and figuring out a way to let that come out. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think if you have a cultural perspective and it feels good to you, use it. Because even if you're esoteric, if you perfect it, it's going to be appealing to a lot of people who aren't in that cultural group. They get it. A lot of times, there will be a joke that I'll watch, say, at a movie. And I'll say, I don't get it, but I get it. I don't need all the information. I get the idea somehow. And you're filling in the blanks on those lines. So whatever makes you perfect as a performer, do it. And don't say, well, I've got to include everybody, I want to do this, I want to do that. Boy, if you perfect one thing and you get it right, there's going to be a lot of people interested in that. When I was doing movies-- and they have these demographic ratings for your movie when they test it. They'll say, men liked it at 82%, women liked this, African-Americans, this, this. They go around. And the guy who conducted those surveys, I would talk to him about it. And he said, you have to understand, all movies are cult movies, meani...

About the Instructor

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.

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Steve Martin

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

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