By Anya Rehon
Remember when we set goals for 2020? What a time that was!
With many of us now spending more time at home these days—make that all our time—it's hard not feeling like time is being wasted and that our dreams and plans don't matter anymore. But honestly, there's probably no better time for self-exploration…no, not that kind of self-exploration, though, y'know, that too.
A few weeks ago, I took an introductory comedy course online. Learning standup has been an interest of mine the last couple of years, but I couldn't bring myself to spend the money and time necessary for a multiweek class. Plus, making other people laugh, with my own material, just didn't seem possible, no matter how intense the training.
And then COVID-19 happened. Suddenly, laughter really did seem like the medicine I needed—better than injecting disinfectant, anyway.
The class I took was through Helium Comedy Club and taught by comic Alex Falcone, who left Portland for Los Angeles in December to further his comedy career. It consisted of four two-hour sessions held over Zoom for about a dozen students. I quickly learned that writing standup isn't about being funny—it's about being interesting and having ideas worth sharing.
The majority of the class was spent learning how to structure jokes. Every joke, we were told, needs a defined point of view and must include necessary background information in order for the audience to fully appreciate the punchline. After some brainstorming, we presented our material.
The stakes might be lower performing to a virtual crowd than on an actual stage, but it's still deeply awkward. On top of exposing my secrets and insecurities to strangers, I was doing it in front of a literally muted audience.
I also learned that weaving politics and comedy together is risky—let's just say my attempt to compare Trump's idiotic confidence to a White Claw buzz fell flat.
The good news is that taking the course didn't scare me away from comedy. If anything, I want to keep learning. I'm also glad I took this time to go after one of my longtime goals. But, if nothing comes of it, joke's on me.
DO IT: Alex Falcone offers private classes and small group lessons through his website at alexfalcone.ninja.