Chapter 9 of 25 from Steve Martin

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


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.

Topics include: Meet the Students • Workshopping Nalini’s Act • Discussing Onstage Identity

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.

Topics include: Meet the Students • Workshopping Nalini’s Act • Discussing Onstage Identity

Steve Martin

Steve Martin Teaches Comedy

In 25 video lessons, Steve Martin teaches you everything from finding your comedic voice to nailing your act.

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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 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 to the next level.

Watch, listen, and learn as Steve Martin shares wisdom from his five decades in comedy.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Steve will also critique select student work.


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

Loved every second of it. Engaging and thought provoking. Inspired me to do my first public reading. Did not realize it was to any audience of Drag Queens. No wonder I felt so under dressed. Did another reading to a group of friends. The Drag Queens were nicer to me. Thank you Mr. Martin for sharing your perspective with us - it was a gift.

Steve Martin is a class act and a very engaging speaker. It feels like the Dad I never had who was encouraging and supportive. Really liked it.

The beauty of Steve Martin's class was it's breadth. It was as much a course on acting and performing as it was about writing. I'm deeply grateful for the practical knowledge and inspiration this gives me to go out and ruin my comfortable life.

Thank you, i didn't know to much about Steve Martin, but he is great.


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)


Watching Steve dissect an approach and the material is helpful. I find this approach more useful than the prior lectures. Theory is all well and good, but it won't build the barn.

Jon S.

To me, opening with a joke about how you look is only effective if your material is based on that. Since Nalini's material isn't ethnic and if she views being Indian as something she happens to be instead of a core part of her identity then I agree with Steve that there's no point bringing it up right away. Besides, so many comedians open with a self-effacing joke about their face that it's beginning to seem hacky.

Patrick S.

Talking “over” the heads of audience or about non relevant issues to them is a slippery slope. Transposing her obvious high intellect with conflicting, shocking, or just WRONG base actions or comments would be the direction I’d take with that material. Einstein’s theory of relativity explained with his conclusion that tennis is a “fag “ sport. (Sorry) . The dynamics of Something ethereal, beyond audiences scope , becomes humorous when conclusion or punchline brings it back to something “gritty” ,wrong ,or commonly understood. (Or misunderstood)


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 ...