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Arts & Entertainment

Growing as a Performer

Steve Martin

Lesson time 12:09 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.

Steve Martin
Teaches Comedy
Steve Martin teaches you everything from finding your comedic voice to nailing your act.


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...

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.


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

He took it as serious as Steve Martin would. Valuable life lessons and experience.

This class has helped me to see comedy as a resource that can be trained into my daily life. It has also helped me realize that I can’t write in a vacuum. I’ve got to have an audience.

Learned so much from Steve! Many of the things he shared were good lessons for me, even as I'm not seeking to be a comedian. Really good insights that can go a long way for anyone navigating life and career.

Yours was the first class I took. I wanted to see another perspective of creativity....and you had it....thank you Mr. Martin!!


Brian H.

As writer Anne Lamott says in her book " Bird by Bird," give yourself permission to write shitty first drafts.

James D.

Opening line at drive-in hey, good evening. Man, this had better be good. Am I right green Camaro?

Faye L.

Give yourself the freedom to be awful and make mistakes because they might not actually be mistakes..... beautiful advice

Justin D.

listening to mistakes was a great lesson. My first time out on stage ever was a 3-minute bomb. but my one laugh was the topic I built my bit around. After a few more attempts on stage, I had 5 minutes of material on that one topic. The only joke I kept, despite all being funny and getting laughter, came out of a mistake that was funnier than the original punchline.

Darien B.

I like the idea of how you have to get used to being bad at times and perform in places you wouldn't normally perform and to always find ways to build confidence. I definitely like the bit about organising your jokes that's really important.

Rowan S.

What I love is that much of what he has to say applies to many of the other arts. Actors, directors, writers... a whole gamut of disciplines can learn from these lessons. I'm not a comedian, but this is golden time. Loving it.

Tori O.

Love you Steve. Make more classes. You have a lifetime of experience to share.


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Headliners bring the audiences. I may not be a comedian, however... I would like success as an actress. It’s overdue. Make me brighter than a twinkling star 🤩💕

A fellow student

thank you. Here my first attempt in writing comedy:My real forte is in writing lyrics. Here we go: "Thank you. This is my first time so ladies expect a lot. How does a man make a woman he meets into a captive audience like if she was to serve him something? It should be easy: place an order, say, "Thank you; you're doing a great job and here is your tip." I guess the man has to decide what he wants from the girl he greets. Once you figure out how to capture her; you will need to learn how to make her fall in love with you. That means you come from a stage or bring her upon a stage. You may believe all is from a divine plan and say, "Hey lets make love now because we are made and meant for each other" or you may be existential in your philosophy thinking you create your own destiny and share," Hi lets make love now because we may never see each other again and time is made for this fun." I really believe we are somewhere in between so, "Lets enjoy a drink together forgetting the world and wondering if love is divine." I mean Starbucks has many kinds of coffee." (That's it for now) (I will not use the f word instead of "making love")