Music & Entertainment

Getting Started in Comedy

Steve Martin

Lesson time 9:31 min

No talent? No problem. Steve shares some ways that anyone can jumpstart their comedic journey. He didn't let a lack of talent slow him down and thinks you shouldn't either.

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

You may think I don't have any talent. I guarantee you I had no talent. None. I couldn't sing, I couldn't dance, I couldn't act. I didn't know how to think of jokes or tell jokes or do anything. I just started doing it because I liked it. And I can remember, I accidentally got a job writing for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. I know that sounds crazy. But I was just a student doing my little comedy act, and I'd written some creative writing nonsense stories. And I submitted them through a friend, and I got hired. And I remember-- because they wanted young people. That was the mantra, you know. Never trust anyone over 30. So they wanted young writers, and I just got lucky. Lucky. And I remember the first day. You know, Mason Williams, the head writer, came over and he was looking at something. He said, OK, now here. Here's your punch line, and I'll just get you to circle it. And then, you draw this line over here, and you just put it at the end. Oh, so that punch line goes at the end. All right. Got it. So don't be intimidated starting with nothing. In fact, if you start with nothing, the work-around can lead you to originality. So the fact that I didn't dance didn't stop me, because I could fake dancing. I could fake dancing and make it funny. And I could fake singing and make it funny. If I had been a real singer or a real dancer, I'd be a real singer or a real dancer. Now, I realize a lot of you people are sitting out there, saying to yourselves, Steve, how can you be so fucking funny? [VIDEO PLAYBACK] There's a gimmick. There's a gimmick to it. I'm being honest with you, there's a gimmick. Before I come on stage, I put a slice of Bologna in each one of my shoes. So when I'm on stage, I feel funny. You know what I mean? People come to me and they say, Steve, is there some way I could be funny, too? [END PLAYBACK] I was thinking, what are the qualities that qualify someone for show business? And I thought, one of them was, when I was starting out-- when you see someone on stage or you see a show, do you think, I wish I was up there? Or if you're a writer and you watch a movie, and you say, I could have written that. That's one thing. Another thing is, are you an introvert? Because many comedians I've talked to, with exceptions-- Martin Short, certainly-- start out as introverts, and this is a way to become something onstage and to get attention. And it just means that there's this well of subconscious that you're suppressing, because you're shy. But on stage, you get to bring that out. What is it? That's the big challenge. What is that mysterious well inside you that you can let out? A friend of mine wrote me, that I went to high school with. He said, I want to be a comedy writer. And I said, well....


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.

I would like a 4-6 week challenge afterwards (or during the masterclass) to write and perform a 5 minute stand up comedy routine. Or maybe a challenge to write a 5 minute sketch comedy bit. Or some sort of challenge to accompany the masterclass.

I grew up watching Steve Martin and it's great to learn from him, he's an excellent orator and instructor...

Thank you. Enjoyed it very much and look forward to utilizing things like pushing myself to finish projects, be concise, and get 5 people's opinions separately.

With planning and writing and analysis and preparations of comedy. I thought it was pretty insightful look into an experienced comedian.


Comments

A fellow student

I loved the listening part. If you surround yourself by interesting people, and everyone is interesting in their own way, you get so many ideas - but to write them down as soon as possible before they slip away. Also, I keep thinking about the bologna in the shoes! So amazing.

Todd A.

This was a great lesson!!! absolutely loved it!!! I do have a question though. What if I am doing improve comedy? Like should I stay with it or is it a big waist of time? Because it has been helping me get over my fear of being on stage. Also I am an extrovert with ad/hd. I'm glad it has something for the introverts but I'm not an introvert and I don't know a lot of comedians that are extroverts, well besides Martin Short now. Feel free anyone to comment for support or ideas.

John

I really appreciate the collaborative effort. Listening to the audience, communication with your peers, all listening and responding rather than just producing.

Dan L.

Love the "What if?" idea! As a comedian starting out, that really helps to get the ball rolling.

Sue H.

What great inspiring presence Steve has! Feel like he’s right here with me. Original can-do content. I’m convinced! Yes I think I too can be funny. Great intro to the subject and useful real world examples. Loved the short video clip of a performance-made me laugh even tho I’ve seen it before. Thank you.

Conor M.

Great lesson, reinforcing common sense, easy to absorb, and drives focus. (I'm 53, and I'm not trying to be a comedian, at least not professionally, well, at least not where they pay me, OK, I'd be a comedian where they pay me if the situation presented itself, but for now, I just wanted to see what Steve had to say. Steve, let's have lunch! But with a 3rd guy, who talks a lot, where we can insert jokes while they're trying to tell a story. Cheers- Skip

A fellow student

I am watching this to improve my teaching. Humor is a great HOOK for any lesson.

Darrick N.

Great Lesson with many key points, Thanks. I am an Extrovert and 40+...Oh well. I do live in a area that allows me to hit Detroit, Chicago and Toronto. Because they were mentioned I’ll be placing those open mic locations higher on my list, camping in alleys waiting for a spot if needed...{maybe I’ll not dress so well and make some change while I wait}. Sadly I do think about comedy ALL THE TIME. “From tragedy comes Comedy” and this world is a messed up place, why not spin it and make em laugh. Best of luck....”Talent” to everyone in the class.

Paige T.

I watched this the first time over a year ago and thought I would review it again. But I paused it and now I can’t open it. Oh technology!!!

Petra

What a hopeful wonderful class. I loved Steve's opening comments; 'there is space for you' I am interested in writing fiction and am mostly concentrating on the authors, but I stumbled on Steve's class when it popped up as a suggested playlist. I wasn't too worried about Steve's comment about 'ageing out' like others have mentioned in the feed. I just took that to be Steve expressing his own sensitivities about his own age - ratherthan him meaning if you're not young don"t bother. Look at Steve Carrell - he really hit his stride as a mature comedian. A lot of the Masterclass teachers talk about 'youth'. For example Neil Gaimon mentions 'Young Writers' all the time. I just figured they mean that you're young in your skill rather than actually young. I think as a mature person you're at an advantage because you have developed perspective and experience that you don't have when you're sub 25. The over arching message is do it. Keep going. There is space for you in the world.