Despite the so-so reviews, I can’t help but like the idea behind Judd Apatow’s new movie Funny People. In the film Adam Sandler plays successful comedian George Simmons who gets one of those rare opportunities to figure out what’s really important in life after being diagnosed with an incurable blood disorder.
Besides the fact that I can identify with the whole near-death experience thing, the movie resonated with me on another level. Namely the fact that I’ve always wanted to see if I had what it takes to be funny on stage.
Now if you’ve ever spent any time in the spotlight—whether it was in a school play or in a ragtag rock band—you know the experience has a certain addictive quality to it. Even so, the idea of doing a stand-up comedy routine in front of a live audience can be a little intimidating.
Enter the comedy workshop. For a few hundred bucks, there are a number of schools that will help you find your own unique comedic persona, write and rehearse your own original material, and offer constructive feedback in a room full of other aspiring yucksters. The payoff for all this hard work is a chance to take the stage at high-profile comedy clubs and do your first set in front of a receptive audience full of friends and family members, a venue where you’re much more likely to kill than bomb.
If that sounds like fun, check out these links to a few of the nation’s most respected comedy workshops:
Offers an eight-week intensive in Los Angeles that ends with a showcase at the Hollywood Improv. Also offers one-on-one coaching and a four-DVD set they call Comedy Career In A Box, though we figure trying this in your living room sort of misses the point.
The fact that this program has been running since 1982 says they must be doing something right. The school takes a more analytical approach to being funny, broken down into beginner and advanced workshops, the latter of which winds up with a showcase at L.A.’s Comedy Store or other local venue.
This New York City-based school meets eight times over a three-week period ending up with a showcase at high-profile venues like Stand Up New York. A five-day intensive option is available for out-of-towners, along with a one-year in-depth program for those looking to make a career of this funny business.
Like its namesake comedy troupe that has spawned all-star funny people like Mike Myers and Stephen Colbert, this program focuses on sketch comedy and ensemble improvisation. Classes are offered in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Toronto, and there’s even a semester-long program that offers college credit. How cool is that?