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Arts & Entertainment

Student Session: Workshopping Tim's Act

Steve Martin

Lesson time 9:54 min

Steve examines one of Tim's bits and illustrates how he can heighten the comedy, connect with the audience, and streamline his performance.

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


Tell me, you look very, like a kind person. You seem like a very kind person. And I wonder if it's a thought to kind of undercut that a little bit? Because I was looking at your material and thinking, is there something-- you don't really swear. No. Yeah. I wonder if it might be good for you? To say something like, good evening, fuck. I just say that because people think I'm too kind, and I'm trying to undercut this image. In that restaurant bit that was there, one of the reasons I liked doing that is because I know that's how I come across, and so I like to play characters that-- No, I like that. In fact, I was looking at that. We're going to get to somethingl else in a minute, but I was just looking at this. This is your restaurant there, right? Yeah. I think it can be very, very sharp. And maybe, I don't know how you deliver, but a bigger energy. It might be interesting to think of it that way, and really let yourself get mad. Yeah, I definitely do it small. I guess the impulse of that was because I just like to be as like smally condescending-- to have small moments of condescension build to something truly rude. But it's true, I've never really gotten to big with that. Well, you could start very small, like you say, and then get big. But maybe I'm thinking, maybe that's the way I'd do it. You've got to do it the way you'd do it. But you've got such a great premise of here's when I'm rude, and then we just see you kind of get a little rude. I'd like to see you get really rude. Yeah. So I'm going to destroy it by ruining it. You say, I don't want to talk about food. I'm very, very rude in restaurants. I'm incredibly rude in restaurants. I don't know why it comes out of me. It just flows through me. The rudeness flows through me like it's like air. It's, I'm a bad person when I'm in a restaurant, because I talk. I talk rude to the server. I don't mean to. It's just the worst. So what I want to do right now, because I don't want to go out to eat tonight, I wanted to get some of the rudeness out of my system. So for right now, you are all now one server. So when I point to you, please say may I help you. So I think that's really good. I think there are some trims in there and a little more logic straightening out. But now you've incorporated them in a sketch without them knowing it. It's really good. So please say may I help you. May I help you? And you say OK, pretty good, but let's try it again. May I help you? Perfect. Sits down at invisible table, points to audience. And you could point to them, may I help you? Oh yes, thank you for coming finally. Hey, considering the menu throughout before every request, delivered sarcastically. First, um can I have a glass of water please, when the food comes? ...

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 didn't take as many notes through the videos but found the workbook to be more comprehensive as we work on material. Loved the final call to action and plan to do an open mic night soon!

i think it just gave me more confidence that i was following the process. i have been doing stand up for 5 years. so it made me feel patient and that i am right where i need to be

Loved it! Although 1.25 speed in the video player would've made the experience even better! :)

I found the content perfect for where I am right now in my career!


Brian H.

June 2020 here. Now that COVID-19 has closed down most entertainment venues, what options are available to aspiring talents? How would the approach to preparing an act for live performance change to creating YouTube videos, LiveStreaming, etc?

A fellow student

The jokes dont seem funnt at all, but the advice and points that Steve gives are very good

Dan U.

You all are trying to revive a dead corpse. Stage presence is critical when material is lacking....not clever, no layers of comedic expression like....I heared you have the Hannibal Lechter special...anyone who is familiar with the Lechter character is ware he was a this guy serious!? If anyone ever viewed snl’s Cheeseburger routine with Belushi, Alroyd, Murray Gilda Radner...simple as all hell skit but stage presence in spades. Sometimes a skit just does not have the elements or does not lend itself to humor. In addition to a “Lechter special” about a waitress that is so inept she presents herself as someone that just escaped a shark attack in sea world. Or most the patrons formally dressed and your click appear like Venice beach surfers claiming to they are as burgers sufferers.


Bonjangles behavior, I liked the character Tim created. Great for a movie script. But for like a showcase, Can a standup comedian have multiple characters in their routine? Excellent critique with rapport and advisement. Nice :)

The Fool

Oi! The PDF downloads are broke. That set design is sweet, complements to the set designer and director of photography. What's with this Tim guy? Why's he a jerk to restaurant service officers, they are our role models of courtesy and humble efforts to please our fellow humans. Except for that beast at the cafe that was rubbing her filthy fungal hoof and then proceeded to fold silverware into napkins without washing her hands, ugh. Tim, where the hell were you when I needed you?


If Tim is rude in restaurants, who knows what the cooks and servers are doing to his food? This is probably what the audience is thinking so he may want to add something here about how he suffers from stomach cramps/diarrhea/projectile vomiting after every restaurant meal. Which may be why he acts the way he does in restaurants--his bouts of illness have made him hate restaurants and the people who work in them. It's a vicious cycle that he hasn't recognized.

Rich G.

I'm curious as to how these students have fared since these videos were made.


There is a real Pearl here: you can make it look natural and unrehearsed once you've mastered it. It reminds me of doing Kung Fu. The Master looked like it was all like brushing your teeth and his speed of execution would've challenged Einstein's assumptions. When we spoke about it, he opined that practice for years had made his movements seem natural and unrehearsed and that the speed was not from practicing doing things fast, but from doing things well and repeatedly. I applied the same logic to sex and I think I am just about ready to try it with a partner... :-)

Robert A.

I am a kind person myself. Which is why I like to look like one and than show my wild and crazy side of myself. Because I'm a very kind and open up person, but there's a huge fun, wacky, wild side of me as well. And I like to come off as kind than get nuts in my material. Except like him, I never swear, never swear ever. Because I know entertainment should be for everyone. Thats just my style. Great lesson Steve!!!.

Todd G.

I told my parents that I wanted to be a comedian, they laughed their ass off!