Thursday, February 17, 2011

Stand Up, Sit Down

I'm on my third week of my improv class at Comedy Sportz. There are 22 people in my class which is a little much but I've accepted it as more people to laugh with instead of less stage time. I've been doing stand-up comedy since I took a class in it back in 2008. I like improv because it just plain makes me laugh and I like doing stand up because I'm prepared and have written jokes and therefore less anxiety.

This week in my improv class we just finally started getting into performing and not just playing warm up games. Every week I laugh so hard I have to stop to focus on not peeing my pants. It really is so fun. This week we did this speech exercise where we would have one minute to give a speech on whatever topic the teacher gave us and just talk like we were an expert on it. It was to practice not filtering ourselves and to say whatever came to mind first. If you know me, then this was just a set up of hilarity waiting to happen. I got on stage and the teacher gave me a random topic to talk about which was "pineapple harvesting". I decided to act like I was giving a motivational type speech to teenagers at a high school.

"Your teachers have asked me here because some of you teenagers have been going after school, harvesting pineapples, and I'm here to tell you what severe consequences early pineapple harvesting can have in your youth. Vast repercussions... "

Here's where that unfiltered Carah stuff comes in:

"Such repercussions as HIV..."

The whole class just busted up laughing...and me too. Maybe you had to have been there but it was seriously funny. It took me a while to gain my composure because I couldn't believe what just came out of my mouth. When I'm doing improv like that I also try to use the biggest words my brain can put together because big nonsensical words are just funny. Right before the teacher said "time" for my minute to be up I said something like,

"At your young age, early pineapple harvesting can set you up for a life of vapid remorse."

Haha. Still makes me laugh. "Vapid remorse"...is there such a thing? Anyway, I think with that exercise I made my class laugh the second hardest out of everyone. The first funniest guy, Trevor, also has a background in improv and stand up. His topic was "Walruses". He started totally serious and said, "Walri. The enemy of man since the beginning of time..." So funny. I couldn't beat that!

Which brings me to the reason I wanted to write this blog in the first place. The rules of comedy. On the first day of improv class I mentioned that I do a little stand up comedy and my teacher, Tonia, went out of her way to tell the whole class, "Improv and stand up are two COMPLETELY different things." And here's my problem with that. The civil rights movement has brought us so far. Let's look at our similarities, not our differences!

Stand up and improv both strive to make people laugh. What's funny, is funny. Whether it's prepared jokes or improvised jokes. The rules of comedy don't change. So who's to say I can't take what I've learned about making crowds laugh doing stand up and apply it to improv? One part of comedy is staying in character. Like doing our speeches we weren't suppose to laugh...which I have a love/hate relationship with. Because, it's true, not laughing at something that is totally funny only makes it funnier to other people. When you create something funny and acknowledge how funny your are by laughing it usually ruins the joke. But like my HIV comment, I cracked and laughed so hard because what came out of my mouth was a surprise to the whole room but especially me.

And the problem with this rule is that people think it's cool to do off stage too and having the "I'm too cool to laugh" attitude for life is a sad way to live. My teacher, Tonia, I think has applied this to her life. I have never seen her laugh...or smile. She says funny things all the time. She acknowledges when other people say funny things like, "That's funny. That's really funny. Good job." But hello...laughter also tells us that same statement in a much friendlier way. But what it all comes down to is that...

I wish Trevor wasn't funnier than me. The end.

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