From Steve Martin's MasterClass

Steve's Journey

Learn how Steve's love of performing took him from a childhood magic act to selling out arenas. And how he has now, finally, learned to relax.

Topics include: Falling in Love With Performing • Developing as a Performer • Experiencing Success • Learning to Relax

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Learn how Steve's love of performing took him from a childhood magic act to selling out arenas. And how he has now, finally, learned to relax.

Topics include: Falling in Love With Performing • Developing as a Performer • Experiencing Success • Learning to Relax

Steve Martin

Teaches Comedy

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Preview

Nothing in my house as a child contributed to my comedy. I talked about listening in the car radio as we'd make family trips, but that was silent. I'm listening and just loving these great performers. But my house was not an artistic household at all. I got lucky. In one, I developed an interest in comedy, magic, and performing. Great thing about magic is you could buy a trick, and then it had instructions, and it had patter. Patter means talking. And you'd say, the great Egyptian god Foo, and you had your whole act kind of defined for you. You didn't have to think too much. And you could be on stage, well, on stage, I mean you know doing your performance at your parents bridge party. And so I had collected this. And also I had heard about performers and they had a funny joke, and I thought, oh-- I didn't realize jokes were property. And there was a great comedy magician named Carl Ballantine who had a fantastic joke where he said, and now the appearing dove. Then he would blow up a paper sack. The appearing dove, and he'd go like this, then you would just get feathers. So I thought, well, of course I can use that. And so I had an act. And I had actually thought up a couple of jokes on my own. I had the disappearing candle. And it was a candle like this. And I would put a silk over it and then I would hold it up, and then I would go like this and the candle was gone. And then I would do this, thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. And it would get a laugh, because my arm is sticking out. And I had a few little jokes. I remember I was in high school, and I was a cheerleader in high school because I injured myself. I really wanted to play football. So glad I didn't. But I ended up being a cheerleader. And the reason I wanted to be a cheerleader, I thought, that's show business. Standing up there in front of those people. I'm in show business. [MUSIC PLAYING] As I got into college, I met people who were inspirational to me. I got into a philosophy class. So I started thinking about-- philosophy is about the willingness to think about anything, and break it down, and find out if it's true or false. And I started thinking that way. And I thought, what if I applied that to comedy? You know I'm just a kid in my teens. But it helped me get excited about it. And it helped me find something new about it. Even if I'm making it up. Even if it's incorrect. I thought gee, I don't see a future in me doing a magic act. But I did notice something. I said I've got to just kind of slip into a little more comedy material. And I thought, you know what, they love it when the tricks don't work. So I started edging into like from a serious magician into it's kind of funny when the tricks don't work. Then I started thinking maybe I could just do a little bit of just regular come...

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.

The thing that made the biggest impact on me was "everything matters" when it comes to performing. This is something I'm actively going to incorporate in my presentations.

Already fantastic stuff. Can't wait for more!!

Bravo! I think we all need to hear there's room for us and our creativity.

Well throwing pepper in the Great Salt Lake is probably not a good way to make a living for me and I am almost as certain that for me, being a stand up comic would bring the same results. Besides I don't need the money and don't want to have to think of how or what to spend it on.

Comments

Rich C.

One of the best descriptions of the life/life cycle of a performer I've ever heard. Thanks!

A fellow student

I totally get the part about being relevant and then being 'relaxed' (which isn't really) and confident. I was a mess and worked too hard to get a basic paycheck as a young adult. Now it is a bit funny (so to speak) that the more relaxed and less caring I am, the easier it is to work and get paid. (It is also nice to have a few things in your back pocket to fall on, I admit.) Love your job. Let the job work for you, not the other way around!

Colleen D.

The Masterclass package has been the best Christmas gift I've ever received. Being able to learn all this from Steve Martin is blowing my mind.

Antoinette C.

Too funny! Here is what my siblings tortured me with as a baby: "Toni Bologny with meatball eyes, put her in the oven and make French Fries" One day I was crying because they were teasing me... between 7-9 years old and I was telling my dad how much I hated that he named me after him... he made me take a nap but said he would take me for ice cream afterwards... so we went for a cone at Thrifty's on Harbor/Wilson in Costa Mesa... and that's when he said "why don't you become "TONI NO BOLOGNY?" and VIOLA! That ended that! They actually tried stuffing me in an oven on a sleep over too. Those half sibs of mine are sadists. lol

Louanne F.

I have to say I'm really enjoying just getting to hear Steve talk about his experiences ---- it's so nice that he can open up and share so much about his good and bad experiences along the way. Just like talking to a friend.

Mia S.

"There's many ways to self-define success. I've gone through many stages of it. Because at the same time you're saying, 'I'm on the cover of Time, I must be successful,' at the same time you're thinking, 'When's it all going to be over?'I'm thinking, 'Well, this happened. This happened, where I became successful.' You can notch that off, say, 'I never thought that would happen.' You could go, 'Yeah, I became successful. Now what happens? Now what is it, is it this for the rest of your life?' I had no clue. Fortunately I got into movies. So then you have a hit, 'Oh this is so great.' Then you have some flops.I kept thinking I was going to go away, but I never went away. So why am I wasting all that grief? W ust luck. There's this moment in this long career where you suddenly kind of relax in this strange way that you've never thought. You always thought you were relaxed before, but the truth was you're very nervous. Your big project comes up, you think about it for months and months and months. And then there's a sort of elegance - maybe it's age, or maybe it's continued success, or maybe it's some kind of weird confidence, even false confidence - where it actually started to become fun. You finish a show, and you just feel ecstatic. We're high, we discuss it - how about that, that moment. And then the next day, you start over. That high doesn't last you through the week. I'm at that stage now - maybe I've lost the feeling that I have to prove myself, and that's a big relief."

Mia S.

"Nothing in my house as a child contributed to my comedy. I talked about listening in the car radio as we'd make family trips, but that was silent. I'm listening and just loving these great performers. But my house was not an artistic household, at all. I got lucky in, one - I developed an interesting in comedy, magic, and performing. Great thing about magic is, you could buy a trick, and then it had instructions, and it had 'patter'. Patter means talking. And you'd say, 'The great Egyptian god Foo,' and you had your whole act kind of defined for you - you didn't have to think too much. I had heard about performers, and they had a funny joke - I didn't realize jokes were property. 'Well of course I can use that.' As I got into college, i met people who were inspirational to me. I got into a philosophy class - philosophy is about the willingness to think about anything, and break it down, and find out if it's true or false. And I started thinking that way, and I thought - what if I applied that to comedy? It helped me find something new about it, even if I'm making it up, even if it's incorrect. I thought, 'They love it when the tricks don't work.' So I started edging into like, from a serious magician - now I'm accidentally creating a variety show. Slowly, you're building. I became a comedy writer and I didn't know how to write a word. Now I have a little background in writing sketches, whatever. I quit and went on the road with my act. And out there, in all these little towns where you perform in a corner with no elevated stage, where you're running the lights yourself - everything meant something. Every lesson was learned, every drunk person was dealt with. You're getting this backlog of experience that you don't even know you have. 'I haven't done a play in - 35 years.' But, when I was 18, I worked for three years at Knott's Berry Farm, at a little theater where we did a play four times a day. I thought, 'This is exactly the same. Only the words are different.' How to not people intimidated by three people - or 18,000 people."

J.C. S.

J.C. Sisco died peacefully yesterday in Riverview Hospital, surrounded by his loving family and another much larger family from Brooklyn who were visiting the patient in the other bed. J.C. died of a self-inflicted canon ball wound. He was forty-three years old but was reading at a forty-five year old level when he died. He is survived by his wife, daughter, and 6 billion other people on the planet - most of them taller than he. J.C made his living as an acrobat with Cirque Du Soleil and spent all his free time performing ballet with the Company of Dance Arts in Red Bank, NJ. Although he himself has never danced before, he has been familiar with the term "to dance" since the time he was three, when he saw a neighbor do it. Performing ran deep in J.C.'s family. His grandfather spent decades honing his craft in Vaudeville, where he was a narrator for bad mimes. His grandmother worked the carnival circuit as a psychic of sorts. She was a "peripheral visionary." She could see into the future but only way off to the sides. Jay trained as a high school actor under such stage and screen luminaries as Betty Bosworth Stein and Wolfgang Metterling, a half-brother and sister team who, in the forties, had pioneered the use of puffing out one's cheeks when playing a squirrel. J.C. got to earn his acting "chops" appearing in several high school musical classics such as Geese Aplenty, Those Who Prefer To Yodel, and My Mother's Gums, in which he played a strung-out string puppet who falls in love with a court stenographer, for which he received special recognition from the Old Bridge Elks Lodge. At the University of Pennsylvania J.C. continued to hone his craft, writing and appearing in a number of coffee house plays including My Brother Was an Only Child, The Christmas Boil, and Wither Thou Goest Cretin - a one man tour de force - Freudian thriller in which he played a seminary student with shingles who sells his soul to the devil for his health, and a big bag of waxed fruit. His performance credits with the Company of Dance Arts include six years of the Nutcracker, where he played Party Guest, progressing to Herr Stahlbaum, then regressing back to Party guest, a role he reprised four more times alternating between Father One and Father Two despite "thinning hair" and a noticeable limp he endured for many years after a very bad speed-reading accident left him partially paralyzed from the feet down. J.C. also performed the Courtier on two occasions in The Sleeping Beauty, once forgetting to wear underwear under his tights. J.C. will long be remembered for his untiring charity work, especially his annual canned goods drive for homeless penguins, and his ironic view of life that didn't see the glass as half full or half empty, merely twice as big as it should be. Services will be held at Johnson's Funeral Home in Spring Lake, NJ - whose motto is "We make dying fun!"

Bree A.

This lesson is really useful, thank you. Sometimes I get frustrated and angry about the grind and the struggle... but this perspective helps me to understand that this is the time when I am learning skills that will stand me in good stead... like determination and humility and discipline. The point is not for it to be easy.

Luculent L.

I forgot who said it so I can't give them credit, but one of my favorite jokes about money is 'My accountant said I have plenty of money to live the rest of life comfortably, provided I die by next Tuesday.'