Music & Entertainment

Finding Your Comedic Voice

Steve Martin

Lesson time 11:07 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.

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


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.



Reviews

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

Great insights from Steve on how he develops comedy. I loved the sessions on writing/editing which showed the hard work that underpins the show.

Short and sweet. Great food for thought to make me start taking notes more regularly.

Well throwing pepper in the Great Salt Lake is probably not a good way to make a living for me and I am almost as certain that for me, being a stand up comic would bring the same results. Besides I don't need the money and don't want to have to think of how or what to spend it on.

I thought Steve was simple and direct and told good stories and explained the masics of comedy, but this is not as highbrow as Malcolm Gladwell, but I signed up for Gladwell so its not a fair comparison


Comments

A fellow student

Every comedian should form their own identity. In comedy you can see constantly people stealing jokes drom another comic and pass it like their own. Shows that many comedians are not really funny and are desperate to be validated. Its about trying to be original and hopefully it works out.

Fernando P.

This was key I think, finding your comedic voice is a way of saying finding your "identity." What makes you... YOU. If you don't know who you are, nobody else ever will. On a side note: I really enjoy the banjo transitions :D

Gregg P.

"Just say the truth". Wow, that has worked for me a lot, but I never really put it into that clear of a principle before. That was definitely worth the price of admission.

Stephen

I've watched a few of these in succession, I'm wondering is he doing them spontaneously, has he prepared it with a few ad libs, our is he reading or recalling it and making it look like one side of a natural conversation.... fascinating stuff for such an amount of content and no ums or ahs or pauses.

Ben D.

This advice is very true for speakers as well. And possibly is one of the hardest ones: how can you be original, but at the same time, "familiar" enough so not to scare your audience. It is a thin line indeed. Stever Martin's is the first course I picked from all the courses, because I wish to learn about comedy. I thought I will do one lesson each day... now I am listening to N4. Got hooked...

Liz

My Manifesto: DC Insider who arrived just in time to tell you how Washington really works.

James S.

The PDF doesn't download. Gives an error. What am I paying for? Just videos of someone telling me their life?

Steve L.

I like Steve. He is as concise as a newspaper, which I love. He gets to the point so I can understand it right away. My manifesto that fits me is futility. I start so many projects and never finish them. When I try to finish them they turn to crap. I'm sure there is a lot of material there. For example I have a whole bookshelf of books that read about half way through and never picked them up again. As far as I know Red Butler and Scarlet O'Hara are still happily married.

Mary H.

one of the most wryly humorous & applicable books of all times ... The Shrinking of Treehorn https://www.facebook.com/mary.hollowell.315/posts/841604039509962

ALICIA S.

You’re funny. I like you. I don’t have a manifesto. Maybe I have to think up a manifesto and change my game. I live by a mission mantra, “I am an actor. I am a great actor. I am a successful actor. Everybody loves me because I am the storyteller of all storytellers... Seecharan, Seecharan... Woohwee!”.