Tag Archives: Standup Comedy

How to Become a Comedian, Part 1: Attitude

How to Become a Comedian, Part 1: Attitude

Imgres I'd like to share a bit of my experience with standup comedy.  Having done standup for a dozen years, I've watched a lot of people try to make it work and fail.  And I have a secret for you.  It's the number one reason why people succeed in standup.  In anything.  You won't believe it.  You're going to say that it's too simple.  That there's got to be some other magic ingredient… talent, or charisma…  but the truth is that the number one ingredient to success in comedy is PERSISTENCE with the INTENTION TO SUCCEED.  If you don't persist with absolute determination, you will have a very difficult time getting past the challenges that come up, and they are numerous.  

ACTION: Make a commitment to yourself when you begin that you will give comedy 100% of your good will efforts for a certain period of time–that could be one day, one month, or one year.  But make that commitment and then renew it when the time comes.  You sort of do comedy like you can sort of be pregnant.  I know a lady who tried both.  It wasn't pretty.

How does it all work?  Stay tuned for Part 2.

Laughter + IVF = Babies

Laughter + IVF = Babies

ClownLaughter yoga, it's not quite…

So a study of a couple hundred women undergoing IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) near Tel Aviv found that women entertained by professional Israeli clowns right after embryos were transferred to their wombs had more success in giving birth than those with no Israeli clowns.

The study, published in Fertility and Sterility, found that 36 percent of women with Israeli clowns became pregnant, as compared with the 20 percent of clown-free embryo transfer procedure.   Not surprisingly, women conceiving the conventional way were found to have a much lower success rate with Israeli clowns in their room at the time of conception.  I'm just saying… 

Leader of the study, Dr. Friedler said he got the idea for the study because laughter is a "natural anti-stress mechanism."

Friedler, who is based at Assaf Harofeh Medical Centre in Zrifin, Israel, said,"Patients suffering from infertility undergoing IVF are incredibly stressed. So I thought that this intervention could be beneficial for them at the crucial moments after embryo transfer."

Friedler added that if studies at other centres back up his findings, fertility clinics elsewhere might try it too.  I'm just hoping I'm fertile enough to keep the clowns out of my own uterine activities.  Do you think clowns that speak Hebrew are funnier than French or English ones?

Divulging the Material that Will Create Your Solo Show

Divulging the Material that Will Create Your Solo Show

Solo_show_secrets Writing the story of your life (or any other made up story for that matter), and then performing it for others, can be a difficult task.  A one man show or one woman show however depends on your ability to reveal the nitty gritty of your story in a way that is fascinating and entertaining, as well as perceptive and often humorous as well.

In writing my solo show last year, there were a lot of obstacles.  I wanted to tell a story, but I didn't really know what the story was.  I knew I had traveled to India.  I knew how I felt before.  I knew how I felt after.  But when people would ask me what I learned or gained from the trip, it was difficult to really put it into words.  There were also a lot of personal changes that I went through in the past couple of years that related to my trip to India.  I broke up with the man I was seeing during that time, and it became imperative to include my relationship in the telling of the story.  Only I didn't quite realize that it was over with him!  And in order to tell the story about how India changed me, I had to live it.  Art was imitating life which was imitating art.  

What stories are you living out, and are you able to step back and see them?  It can be difficult to see things that are in our blindspots, and even more difficult to speak them, let alone to speak them to the public.  These "secrets", these things we know but don't tell even ourselves, these pieces of ourselves we hide from daylight, they are the juiciest, most delicious parts of your story.  They are what make people come to the theatre.  They are what move us to laugh and cry when watching someone on stage who we don't know or care about, who suddenly becomes an inspiration.  It could be information about a violation, a betrayal, a secret fantasy, a longing, an indiscretion…  How deep can you go?  And will it benefit you to go there?  Will it benefit your audience as well?

To access these parts of you, try an exercise: take several deep breaths deep into your belly.  Sit with your back straight and your feet on the floor.  Let your eyes close and your breath return to normal. Ask your conscious mind to relax, and begin to allow the subconscious mind to speak.  Information may come in phrases, pictures, or sounds.  Focus now on the story at hand.  Ask your subconscious to un-conceal whatever it is that would be most helpful for you to know in order to tell this particular story.  Sometimes it can help to trick yourself a little in order to hear the answer..   You can tell yourself that you don't have to stick with the answer–that you only have to hear it once and can forget it if it's too much, which it could be.  Know that your subconscious will only allow itself to divulge information which you can currently handle.  When you're ready, take another few deep breaths, sense your body, come back to the room, and then write for at least five minutes about what you discovered.

If you're looking for more support in developing your one person show, consider solo show coaching with me.  I work via Skype with actors, writers, and standup comedians across the country.

Alicia Dattner
Comedian & Creativity Coach

So You Want to Write a One Person Show, Part 3 of 7

So You Want to Write a One Person Show, Part 3 of 7

So to recap, Part 1 of "So You Want to Write a One Person Show", I spoke about discovering the Central Moment that your show pivots on.  You did free-writing about this pivotal moment and you held it close to your heart, a secret for yourself.  

Part 2 of "So You Want to Write a One Person Show" we looked at the moments that lead up to the Central Moment of your revelation in your solo show.  We explored possible turning points and after effects of the Central Moment, and we looked at possible through lines, the threads that sew your stories together into one cohesive piece.

Part 3, Write write write.  It can be tempting in this phase to feel as if it's time to choose a topic and stick with it.  You may have chosen a topic for your show in your first step but something else keeps coming up.  You may want to talk about being a used car salesman and tell us about all the cars you sold and all the old ladies who bought them.  But every time you write, you write about your mother's tattoos.  Or your mother tattoo.  It can be disconcerting to find that your subconscious is steering you in a different direction than your conscious mind.  For now, don't worry if it seems like you're going in multiple directions, or if it seems difficult to focus.  It's like making a patchwork quilt.  You need a lot of patches.  At a certain point, you take all your patches, and you see which ones matches….  Lay 'em all out on the floor, see what goes where.

What you're doing right now is allowing things to bubble up from the surface that may never have been give voice or permission to speak.  I'm giving you permission right now not to know where this is all going, and I'm also giving you reassurance that if you stay committed to this process, it will go somewhere, in the end.  As my friend Avishai says, "It's all good in the end.  If it's not good, it's not over."  

In this step, ponder characters: is this show coming from the different voices in your head? Different voices in your body?  People from your childhood?  Loved ones in your life now?  People in politics?  People at work?  If it's a personal story, what's the context of the world?  If it's a worldly story, how does it affect you personally?  Show, don't tell.  

Let's try some Natalie Goldberg-esque exercises.  Do some of these or all!  Do it in pairs if you can, and read them to each other after each exercise. Don't make comments afterward, just set the timer again.


  • Set the timer for 10 minutes and write about the first time you tasted an artichoke.  
  • Write for 10 minutes on why you want to write and perform a one person show.
  • Write for 10 minutes on performers you're inspired by.
  • Write for 10 minutes on imagining the insecurities of the performers or artists you're inspired by.   Imagine the/your world if they decided not to create the work that's inspired you, because they didn't think anyone would care.  
  • Write for 10 min on the one thing about you that you really don't want people to know.
  • Write for 10 min on the one thing about you that you really, really don't want people to know.


Stay tuned for part four, and let me know how your process is going!  If you have questions or concerns, I'd love to hear and address them in my blog.  


Osho Speaks about Laughter (part 6 of 6)

Osho Speaks about Laughter (part 6 of 6)

“There is a Cosmic laughter which comes into being when the whole joke of this Cosmos is understood. That is of the highest. And only a Buddha can laugh like that. These three monks must have been three Buddhas. But if you can laugh the second type of laughter, that is also worth trying. Avoid the first. Don???t laugh at anyone???s expense. That is ugly and violent. If you want to laugh, then laugh at yourself.

That???s why Mulla Nasruddin, in all his jokes and stories, always proves himself the stupid one, never anybody else. He always laughs at himself and allows you to laugh at him. He never puts anybody else in the situation of being foolish. Sufis say that Mulla Nasrudin is the wise fool. Learn at least that much ??? the second laughter.

If you can learn the second, then the third will not be far ahead. Soon you will reach the third. But leave the first type. That laughter is degrading. But almost ninety-nine percent of your laughter is of the first type. Much courage is needed to laugh at oneself. Much confidence is needed to laugh at oneself. 

For the spiritual seeker, even laughter should become a part of Sadhana. Remember to avoid the first type of laughter. Remember to laugh the second. And remember to reach the third.”

Thank you, Osho.  Om.