Arts & Entertainment
Lesson time 12:10 min
Excellence in comedy requires practice just like everything else. Steve examines how to learn from your mistakes, refine your material, and ensure that you are ready to take the next step.
Perseverance over time really mattered to me, really counted. And I think it mattered to other people to, and to other performers. I'm still here. I don't know why. But I'm still here. So why should I waste my energy worrying, worrying, worrying that things are going to go away? And it's something you should worry about when you're starting out, and you have a little success at this. How do you maintain it? You know when I first-- And I think all comedians go through this, may be a little different now-- But after performing for, I don't know, eight, nine years, I get on The Tonight Show. So what do you do when you get on The Tonight Show? You do your best material. You go, hey I killed it on The Tonight Show. That's fantastic. Now they ask you back. What do you do? Your second best material. And then your third best. And then you're out of material. But that's when I started developing new material-- Like I went on once with a comedy act for dogs I did that, and I did a bit where I could tell the audience I can make them laugh simply by reading the phone book. And the bit was I got so desperate I started doing, you know, ridiculous things to make laugh, and slowly started to build it up. And I was much more conscious about having material, and even restructuring old material, or finding ways to get new material. And it's really just working it out. Going out the clubs and working it out. But you know before you take that first TV show-- Which of course, you have to take. A first appearance, you have to take it-- But it be great to have something else, a backlog of more and more material. And I know the comedians today change their material constantly. In the vaudeville days, you did six minutes, the same six minutes, for the rest of your life. And now, you do a comedy special, and you've got to an hour and a half a year. It seems impossible. So you really have to have a catalog, a backlog, a place to go when that thing starts to dry up and even have access to new material, whether you employ your friends or yourself and have a system, a backup system to supply yourself and practice it. [MUSIC PLAYING] I learned early on that rehearsal was very, very important. Let me talk about when we talk about magic. You had to do it a million times. It had to be perfect, had to be perfect. You did it in front of a mirror. And so when I started doing comedy, there is no way to rehearse it because you have to do it in front of an audience. The best thing you can do is-- Even today, I will, if I have a new line or something, I will go over it in my head and go over it, so I don't stumble on it. You don't want to stumble. But there's no way to rehearse except get in front of people. So there really is no rehearsal except experience, which is a probably the best way to do it. I guess if you're rehearsing a...
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.
Great to have a few peeks inside the mind of a man who's been a mainstay of western comedy for decades. I'd love to see a skilled long-form interviewer sit down with Steve at the end of this course; let's hear his take on different comedians he's worked with: Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, etc. Not just in passing, but in depth.
Outstanding! The Professor of Performance. Thank You!
I think this has given me a new perception on what it is to be a comic.
I received some really invaluable pointers on structuring your act, giving it meaning and using the whole body as a tool to serve performance, not just the lines!