From Steve Martin's MasterClass

Finding Your Comedic Voice

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.

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

Play

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.

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

Steve Martin

Teaches Comedy

Learn More

Preview

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.

As a student of Comedic Arts at Emerson College, this has served as excellent supplementary material to my studies.

Just begun this class. But, I am truly touched by his statement, "There's room for you." Perhaps it's corny or indicative of an ancient need <3 thx.

Very casual and authentic. As though he was speaking directly to me with lots of valid suggestions on where to begin.

I felt like this was geared towards the art of performing rather than straight comedy.

Comments

Liz

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

A fellow student

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!”.

Mary Beth P.

Writing a manifesto is an interesting idea. I have never heard it in a positive light, but it seems like a cross between a vision and an elevator speech.

Margaret E.

Steve makes me laugh even when he's serious. can't get any better than that

Mihaela C.

My manifesto is to inspire people to pursue their dreams and move beyond limits. I want to see how far we can go if we work together.

A fellow student

If not having a tutor was a good thing, what are you trying to do with this master class, Steve? Eliminate the competition before it gets started? (btw, I am really enjoying this course!)

KONRAD R.

A manifesto , I'm too anti-establishmentatiran for that. I'm using the broader definition, not political nor necessarily philosophical but more spiritual and artistic; in fact, I'm not really anti anything. I'm more atypical and try to get people to see slightly side ways or upside down. I'm too much of a chameleon to stand for anything! Frankly, I'm like the really big, and klutzy Labrador Retriever at obedience training that everybody but the owner know should have been left at home. Everything looks like a stick to me, even thin air. Yes, if a dog could be Walter Mitty and ADD, that would be me. I just asked my significant other and she said, Slapstick ( Never saw that coming ) I inquired and asked, do you mean Benny Hill...But I'm more serious looking. Yes, I'm a typical WASP, but gets into Mad Magazine, Loony Toon Cartoons and Bevis and Butthead jokes. I like raunchy, embarrassing jokes that also make you think. I'm like the weird but fun, really fun, but weird Uncle or Substitute teacher. Yes, I am living proof of what Henry Rollins said, "I've spent the greater part of my life fucking up, and know I'm trying to jerryrigging something remotely sensible. If I ever stubble into something solid, it will be some sort of Forest Gump freak accident! Ps. After thing about this for a while, the word Manifesto sounds like me getting upon a soap box and it collapsing with me in it.