Chapter 21 of 25 from Steve Martin

Writing Case Study: Meteor Shower

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Steve uses his play, Meteor Shower, as a teaching tool to explain efficient writing, smart exposition, and practical character development.

Topics include: Insert Characters More to Give Them Life • No Edit Is Too Small

Steve Martin

Steve Martin Teaches Comedy

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I thought maybe we'd take a look at a play I've written, a recent play, which I'm actually quite proud of. And it's been produced. So it's pretty well together. And maybe I can explain some of the reasons that certain things happen. And one of the things that I'm become very aware of is exposition and how to lay it in. My cliche is in a movie, when two guys are walking down the street, and one of them says, Joe, you're my brother. What about when, blah blah? Why would you ever say that to your brother? Your brother knows who he is. But it's just kind of clunky exposition. And there's so many ways to do it. Just say, what did dad say? It's such a simpler thing. And it's so much better when this information is gathered, rather than told. So I got my little computer. Now, this play I've written-- I'll try to make this as brief as possible. It's called Meteor Shower. And it's a comedy. And that's-- its intent is to be a comedy and to make people laugh. That's its purpose. And I'll just set the situation. It's a couple in their 40s, early 40s, mid 40s. They live in Ojai, California, which is out in the desert. And they've invited a couple over that they don't know that well to watch a meteor shower in the summer. And then, chaos ensues. So how do you tell that? And I'll just-- first, I wanted to establish the couple. Their names are Corky and Norm. And she's on stage alone. She sees him. He comes in. He's half-dressed. He goes, Norm, they're here in 15 minutes. Now, already the audience knows, oh, someone's coming over, without doing anything. They're here in 15 minutes. I know. I know. And he says, there's a Jeopardy question I'm trying to find the answer to. And he says, it's on the tip of my tongue, on the tip of my tongue. Now, I'll explain what the joke is in a minute, but this is just a little appetizer. It's not really relevant. But it talks-- it ultimately has a point. He says, it's on the tip of my tongue. It's a book title. It's a book title. It's something like Death to the Cuckoo. What is it? Like Death to the Cuckoo. And the wife goes, oh, To Kill a Mockingbird. And what they've done now is establish this bond, that they can finish each other's sentences, they understand each other, by doing a joke. So-- and he says, oh, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Yet another reason to be married. So now we know this is going to be kind of about marriage. And yet we haven't really said anything, anything direct about it. And he says, oh. She says, you had a brain freeze. He says, oh, yeah. I repressed it. And when I repress something, I push it way down and kick dirt over it. It's not coming back. And then, she says, if you don't deal with your subconscious, it will deal with you. Now, that's exactly w...

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.

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Steve Martin

Steve Martin Teaches Comedy