Arts & Entertainment


Steve Martin

Lesson time 10:19 min

The difference is in the delivery. Steve offers techniques for pacing, physicality, and timing to help you hone those jokes you've written for the stage.

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

Topics include: Timing Your…Timing • Speak With Your Body • Stay Ahead of the Audience • Make It Look Spontaneous


The difference between a good joke and a great joke is really nothing. It varies from night to night. Your good joke can become a great joke one night. And a great joke, you know, kind of-- kind of does stand on its own, but, you know, I was thinking of the line, it's credited to Groucho Marx, who said, I would never be a member of a club who would have me as a member. Something like that. I'm paraphrasing. And if you look at it written it's sort of an epigram, and it's amusing. But I started thinking, like, if you put that line in the mouth of another comedian it utterly changes. If you gave it to Chris Rock he'd go, I joined a club, and they let me in. And I-- stop-- I don't know how to be in that club. No way! You know, it would just change everything. And you just think about that. I'm not an impressionist, so, you know, I started to go through how different people would say it, and how that line would be fantastic, or epigrammatic, or just dry. And it's so much-- so much is wrapped up in delivery. [MUSIC PLAYING] I used to do a joke in my act, which was a little inside early on. I would say-- arrogantly I would say, I-- you know, I said, you're probably thinking, how can you be so funny? And I said, well I have the gift that many comedians have and that is called timing. Timing. Timing. Sorry. Timing. And then Carol Carol Burnett had one that she did where-- it takes two people to do it, and she would say-- he would say-- she would say, ask me what the secret of comedy is? And the person would go, what's the secret-- she'd go, timing. So it' probably through a negative example that's more clearly understand what a positive example is. You know, timing in comedy is a word that's thrown around a lot. And when I was younger it was a very big word because Jack Benny was considered, you know, the expert on timing. And all it meant is he knew when to pause, and he knew when to talk, and he knew that he could do nothing and increase a laugh. I mean, he had a great gesture. If he was talking to his character and they'd say something, and he would just turn to camera, or turn to the audience and look, and turn back, and it could extend that laugh. And The most obvious kind of timing is waiting for the laugh to be over, and knowing when to start it up again. But you don't say your next line while they're still laughing, because they can't hear it. But you don't want the laugh to be-- to completely die out before you start talking again. So there's just a moment that's instinctive, I think, for performers when-- you know, when to start again. And there's also timing-- inherent timing within a sentence. I mean, it's also your pattern of speech, like if-- I used to do a joke on our show. I travelled around with a Bluegrass band. I would say, I was backstage. I went into the restroom and there was a sign t...

About the Instructor

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.

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Steve Martin

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

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