Chapter 3 of 25 from Steve Martin

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

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

Steve Martin Teaches Comedy

In 25 video lessons, Steve Martin teaches you everything from finding your comedic voice to nailing your act.

Learn More


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 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 to the next level.

Watch, listen, and learn as Steve Martin shares wisdom from his five decades in comedy.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Steve will also critique select student work.


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

I am actually taking this class to become a better screenwriter and I have to say it was phenom! All upcoming comedians take note - Steve won't steer you wrong. Thanks Mr. Martin!

Great Steve, you made me think of the stupid little things I did as a kid and growing up, how much we pick up and play with early in life. Thanks.

Steve was entertaining and enlightening. As a writer, I truly was inspired by his insights into the writing process. And of course, I love the banjo!

I've learned someone was there before me. I'm not so far. Inspires me to keep on, go out there and do what I do best: tell stories with a very personal sense of what humor is.



“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?"

Persida S.

Excellent pointers and advice in general, thank you. Enjoyed it! "You don't meet a hole" because the hole meets you :)

A fellow student

Colbert could learn from "what is the vacuum"? Imo, he hasn't been funny since Trump's election... He used to be at the "cutting edge of new movements" .... now he is just a member of the chorus.

A fellow student

Yes. There are a million comics thinking up the next joke about the president (or whomever is on the news). Topics that are popular are also divisive and risky. But how do you get enough people engaged in a new subject?


Waw, yeah, this is definitely worth it! "What does the nation need!" Lol! I'll give you 10 guesses! Clue: It has something to do with the color of carrots, gold, and crime and spelled out in Russia! I'm obviously going to be retaking this class. Hopefully, in a good way!

Jesse P.

Filling a hole/void in the society. What a lovely idea. No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, I think maybe we could agree it's similar now to what he said about Nixon and Vietnam. It's everywhere right now, and rather than being a member of it, like he was in his hippy look, maybe we can focus on something new and refreshing, as he did with his own change!


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...