From Steve Martin's MasterClass

Gathering Material

Inspiration is all around you if you know where to look. Steve teaches you how to keep your eyes open and reveals some of the most abundant sources of comedic material.

Topics include: Educate Yourself • Material Is Everywhere • Mine Your Friends for Material • Find a Vacuum You Can Fill • Use What Everyone’s Thinking

Play

Inspiration is all around you if you know where to look. Steve teaches you how to keep your eyes open and reveals some of the most abundant sources of comedic material.

Topics include: Educate Yourself • Material Is Everywhere • Mine Your Friends for Material • Find a Vacuum You Can Fill • Use What Everyone’s Thinking

Steve Martin

Teaches Comedy

Learn More

Preview

Become informed. Become intelligent. Learn about things. Every time you learn about something, it's a new subject. And you get a greater vocabulary by learning about things. When I was in high school, I was an OK student, you know, C. When I went to college, I upped it because I got suddenly interested. But I went to this high school guidance counselor and he was the first person who ever said to me, he said, you have interest in performing. And I went, oh, you mean you're actually taking that seriously? He said, you should learn about history. Because-- And I went, that makes sense. You know, to learn the facts about the past and I'd have more subject matter. And so the more you learn about things, the greater intellectual vocabulary and hence comedic vocabulary I think you're going to have in today's world. Because you never know what's going to inspire you. I had a friend, I learned so much from this. It's Charles Grodin and, you know, I've always been-- like you go to a cocktail party or on a movie set and two people get into a fight and I would always be the one, like, how do we stop this? How do we stop this? And Charles Grodin said, oh, when two people get in a fight I just sit back and watch. I thought, what a great idea, you know? Instead of trying to fix it, watch it. Because that's real human interaction. Why abort it? Don't abort your ideas when you're on to something or when there's trouble, let it happen. See what happens. You'd be surprised. If you witness an argument and now you know the shape of an argument in your head. Sometime it's going to come back out. When you're doing your two person bit on stage where you're playing two characters, you've seen the shape of that argument and the volatility of it or the subtlety of it. And you're just constantly gathering information whether you like it or not. You have to think, what's it good for? What circumstance is it good for? Is it good for stand up or is it good for saying at a party or at a dinner table? And it also works backwards. If you say something funny at a dinner table, as a working comedian you have to go, hum, usable? Nora Ephron had a saying that was told to her by her mother who was a journalist and Nora Ephron was more than a journalist, but also a journalist. And her mother said, everything is copy. Which means everything you see, hear, experience is usable. Remember, you are a thought machine. You have a thousand, a million thoughts a day. Just learn to observe them a little bit. And say, oh, is that an idea I could use? A million things happen to you every day. And every one of those things that is a possibility is extremely valuable. To lose something because you didn't make a note or didn't write it down, it's tragedy for a performer. I have a friend in Texas. My friend Tony. And he hir...

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.

Steve Martin helped me learning about the creative process of a person in the show business and how to deal with all of it. Now I know how to think about new jokes and gave me ideas about performing my act.

So great to get a glimpse of Steve's creative process, and great to see how genuinely enthusiastic his is about comedy. Most impressed by eggplant colored suit.

Very encouraging to the aspiring comedian as well as informative.

I enjoyed this class much more than I expected. I learned a lot about life, art and experience in general. Steve Martin has obviously put a great deal of thought into this Masterclass. You can feel his generosity of spirit - he didn’t just rush through it, he took us step by step to be as inclusive as possible of all the pitfalls. Thank you Steve

Comments

A fellow student

I've always thought it would be funny to move the "you are here" sticker from the directory and stick it to the floor in front of the directory instead. My wife doesn't get it. Until she thinks she does. And thinks it's just confusing.

Gary J.

Performing at a "bar" show. First thing I said, "Did you guys see the urinals in the Men's room? They are so low they had to have been installed by midgets." It was a great ice breaker and brought a huge laugh. In this case it was what the men were thinking.

Jishan

Liked "Truth is the great way to look for material"...so this is about what...Waiting for the part- How you say it.

Warren C.

I agree that with this and the previous lesson. Observation is essential to generating ideas. I spend my summers in a small community with well-established social/community events and routines. As an outsider (my partner introduced me to the place) it was rife with comic material - odd rituals, strange characters. Every other year, I write/direct/co-produce a comedy musical review (think Carol Burnett show). By simply observing and tweaking, the comedy writes itself, even extending beyond the clichéd material that gets mocked all of the time.

Liliana S.

When he used that example joke about talking to the rats in the back of the club, I laughed out loud. After, he said that was a "terrible joke." Clearly, I've got a long way to go...

ALICIA S.

“The more you know... dadadang”... My talents include not being able to touch my tongue to my nose, but I can flash my tatas for Springer beads. Lolz. I’m enjoying your class.

A fellow student

That was my favorite lesson so far. Push boundaries. Be unique. Figure out what's not being done--that needs to be done-- and do it. Great advice!

George P.

This entire class applies more to life and living life than I think most realize. Excellent

Jim W.

Enjoyed it - both honest and funny. Meet people with the truth, where they are, and also lead with something new, fill the vacuum. I think our era is not so different from the 60s-70s: people are saturated with political polarization and just want a good laugh.

Vickie R.

Great lesson on where to find inspiration which is all around me. I've had several people (friends and strangers alike) tell me I'm funny when I'm NOT TRYING to be funny? And it's true. When I try to be funny, it never works out and flops. But sometimes when I just tell an unusual story or something strange that just happened to me (which is all the time by the way), then everyone breaks out laughing and one woman even ran to the bathroom to PEE which is really flattering to me. If I can get a total stranger to PEE on our first meeting...well that says something about my "talent?"