God, you’re so bad at telling jokes!’ Does this refrain ring a bell? Because if it does, then the Canvas Laugh Factory at Palladium would be a good place to visit. No, it’s not because there are a bunch of people who can’t crack a good joke, but because you might just come out from there with a funny bone! That’s right. Tom Course, director - Creative/Technical & Programming believes that anybody can learn how to become a stand-up comedian.
“You just have to go up on stage and make people laugh,” he says. Easier said than done? Course doesn’t think so! It’s with a view to finding fresh comic talent, that the Canvas Laugh Factory has introduced a programme called ‘Rising Stars’. Anyone who feels he or she can get the laughs out of the audience is welcome to take part. “It’s a three stage process,” explains Course, “The first stage is the Open Mic, where people who think they can be funny perform for four minutes. More often than not, they fail but every once in a while, there will be somebody who will be pretty good.”
After a few sessions of Open Mic, comes the Open Spot, which is five to six minutes of stand–up comedy on their weekend shows, in front of professional comedians and the comedy-watching audience. Once the participants have gone through the nitty-gritties of performing a couple of times and getting advice on dialogue delivery among things, the ‘Rising Star’ stage comes in. “It’s the first paid gig where they perform for 20 minutes or so. If they do a good job, then there is a possibility of getting to perform on weekends,” he says.
Five steps to becoming a stand-up comedian
1. Be funny! That’s the first thing Course tells anyone who’s going up on stage to perform.
2. Watch a lot of comedy, and by that, he doesn’t mean get DVDs of Russell Peters and watch them. Instead, opt for live comedy events taking place at various venues in the city.
3. Workshop your material. Run it by your friends, the milkman, the friendly chap sitting next to you in the bus — basically, run it through as many people as possible and get their feedback.
4. Be prepared for silence. Once you start off, there will be a lot of material that people will not find funny. You have to be thick-skinned to be able to take the silence that follows the end of your joke.
5. Appear in front of the audience as much as possible because ultimately, it’s they who are going to be your ultimate judge. If they laugh at your jokes, you know your work’s done!