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


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.

Although I don't plan to be a comedian, this class has inspired me to include comedy in my writing and just my every day encounters with cranky people who need to laugh. Thanks! :-)

I have no word to describe it. You will need to check how great this is!

this class with steve martin was pure pleasure! he makes comedy look effortless but listening to his ideas through each session, i saw how much time and effort (devotion) he puts into his routines. a true master! how fortunate for those of us who have had an opportunity to listen to him speak about his art.

Great Class!!! Thank you Steve!! So much information, I will listen to it again! :-) Sonya


Brian H.

6:45 This reminds me of the song "The Bear, the Tiger, the Hamster and the Mole" from the musical “Closer Than Ever” by Maltby and Shire.

A fellow student

I really don't like the format of this workshop. At all. Very awkward. Should have been one-on-one. Also these are the best-dressed stand-up comics I've ever seen! And the least open-minded commenters too!

A fellow student

Bah, i'd love to see her set. That balance of knowledge and personal history, boiling down to a poop joke. Delightful

öykü H.

i dont understand why would anyone think this type of obscenity would be funny. have some modesty, smh.


Her bit isn't funny... The fact that the video's title description says she got "hands-on guidance" however... 😆

A fellow student

I found it more interesting that even in this small sample of 4 people that each one of them seemed to embellish their actual experience on and off the stage. I skipped past it half way through. Plus, no offense to Steve Martin, but I wouldn't want this man (or anyone) critiquing my comedy or re-writing my bits. That's what makes you, you- YOUR writing style, YOUR delivery.

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.