Music & Entertainment

Student Session: Workshopping Nalini's First Stand-Up Act

Steve Martin

Lesson time 17:08 min

Steve sits down with a group of young comedians and gives Nalini hands-on guidance in the development of her very first stand up bit.

Steve Martin
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It's a room of comedians, dangerous, dangerous. Hi, I'm Steve. Will. Will Nice to meet you. Hi. Beth. Beth. Tim. Tim. It's a hard name to remember. And-- Nalini. Nalini. How are you? Great to see you. Great to have you all together. Hey, I just want to ask you, do you know each other, any of you know each other? Tim and I know each other. Uh-huh. Yeah. Me and Tim know each other. Uh-huh. From the circuit or from college or from-- The circuit. From the circuit. Yeah From a different circuit. Yeah. But, yeah. And do all of you do stand-up, or are you more writers, or what? I know you're a stand-up, because I saw your transcript of your bit. And I know that you're a stand-up from reading your material. I actually haven't done stand-up yet. Oh. Yeah, that's my first. Oh, fantastic. Well you're. on your way, I'll tell you. That's good. And you're essentially writers or-- I do s-- I'm a stand-up. Do stand-up? And mostly writing, yeah. And, Will, how did you get into it? How long have you been doing it? I've been doing it about nine years now. Do you travel across the country? Or is it, kind of, more local or-- Right now I'm mostly based in New York, but I just headlined my first show in Cincinnati like a club [? bookends. ?] Uh-huh. How big was it? 150. 200. Yeah. That's a good size. And how was it? It was cool. It was great. There were a couple that felt like work, and there were-- there was like, one or two that were really fun, and then-- Yeah. The rest were just like OK. Good. That's, by the way, a typical week. OK. Yeah. You know. There's no- there's no like, end of a week where you say, "Every show was fantastic." Even if they were fantastic, there's always one that's a little bit, well, that one. Yeah. You know, that one. You go to bed at night, and you kind of feel a little miserable, and you don't know why. It took me years to figure out. Do a show, a club, and go home and I'd be depressed. I'd think, why am I depressed. Oh, it was because the show wasn't good. It was like, oh, really, duh. And, Tim, what's a little bit of your background? I started doing improv like, close to nine years ago, maybe 10 years ago. That seems to be the real, a starting point for people now, is improv. Well, it is that thing where there was an improv group in college, and that was like the closest thing to any kind of comedy that I was close to. So, I started doing that, and then I started doing stand-up, maybe like four years ago. And then, in betw-- and, been sharing those together. And then, sometimes it moves toward sketch and acting and things. It's like a very-- And what's the outlet today for a sketch? Is it like an improv stage? Or a-- I think improv stages ...

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.

I needed a break from Annie Leobovitz so watched this and it turned into a night laughing and taking notes. Bits of advice for any pursuit really!

Great class, and highly entertaining. Steve's light-hearted delivery makes this an entertaining course focused on Stand-Up, and performing comedy.

Class is fantastic! So much information and learning the little employable tricks is invaluable.

So much I've gleaned from this class that it's hard to immediately express here. Steve offers gems and jewels of wisdom that cannot be uncovered on your own without many, many years of experience.


korinne N.

Didn't really like Nalini's material. Truly funny comedians don't need to get down and dirty--- It's an easy {uncomfortable} laugh. She is smart enough to come up with great product.

Margaret E.

what I liked about this was the way he acts as a editor for Nalini's material. The process an be used in various writing areas as well as the standup performance.


Being confident in your work seems to be key for being a standup comedian. Great advice. Good class.

Mary L.

I nearly ditched the course at this point, much as I love Steve Martin. The reason I am a lifelong fan is that he is wonderful and hilarious without this kind of debase material. How great it would have been if he had solid and funny scripts to critique! None of these were funny, and yet Steve had good suggestions.


Where I'm drawn into Nalini's piece is when she talks about grabbing unit and churning it like butter. I think this part should have come first and then associate it with the sharks and women. Think about it, your Johnson / Sharks, doesn't it give you the willies? It makes me sit up in my seat and pay attention! Maybe she can sneak, indirectly the Whole Lorain Bobbitt thing into this piece. Angst anyone? PS. I really like how Mr. Marin handles other comedians, what a horror? As for me, I haven't done much with comedy, but I have a knack for improv and making people laugh. In reality, it's often a ruse I use for getting away and or getting away with being Dyslexic. I was actually a substitute teacher for a while and it was comedy. I've also given the Eulogy for both my parents and was horrified, and mazed I pulled it off. Actually, I'm still in disbelief and was praised by the Catholic priest and doubt founded my very , very conservative audiences.

Mark B.

It's great how in a short amount of time, he made the material so much stronger.

Hans B.

I've always felt that sexual and fecal jokes are the lowest level you can get, and that using that to get laughs is insanely cheap. This whole session definitely made me cringe.


Director: STOP, stop, stop jacking the camera back and forth all the time. Bad photography is not style.


The potentially offensive material in this lesson made it particularly interesting. Listening to Steve talk about vaginas and handjobs illustrates how we react to jokes not only because of *how* they're told but also because of *who* is telling them. No one expects Steve Martin to talk about these things or use this language, but coming from a petite, meek, Indian woman who could deliver these lines in wide-eyed innocence (and in earnest), they would be hilarious. I think some of the people who are criticizing the inappropriateness of this lesson might laugh their asses off if they heard Nalina do this bit in a club.

Rich G.

"This is my first time on stage," I say to the audience, "not counting yesterday and the day before, plus last tuesday and wednesday, and last month, and January, March, June, July, most of Sept, Oct, November of last year and, I think, practically all of the year before last year. So, not counting all of that, this is my first time on stage! And I'm thrilled to be here!" (audience applause)