I write fiction, and have a habit of using jokes and funny situations. In the past, my short stories have been read to paying audiences by professional actors at literary events, like Liars' League London. That led me to wonder if I could create material suitable for stand-up comedy, and develop the skill of performing it as well, hence the Stand Up Comedy course.
Why would I do that to myself?
That was a question I asked myself for at least a week before the City Academy showcase! For me, it's all been about pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I have an MA in Creative Writing and am generally more of a listener and observer - I don't normally stand up and talk to audiences. I'm a very sociable person, but on the quiet side, so I felt a big sense of achievement even to perform in the classes, let alone appear on stage at the showcase.
The rapport between a stand-up and the audience is psychologically intriguing. I've obviously not had much experience (yet) but people giving you the opportunity to make them laugh feels like a great honour. I've learned I'm a bit braver than I thought I was - I think conquering the fear of performing in a very exposed situation has given me confidence in other ways.
Stand up courses get recommended as a way of improving presentation skills, which is probably true - depending on how much your day job colleagues share your sense of humour that is! I certainly can't imagine a few of our class doing their acts in a boardroom, and that probably includes me too.
My favourite comedian is Alexei Sayle - my beer t-shirt fits me almost as tightly as his suits fit him, and I also love his unpredictable juxtaposition of aggressive political ranting with pseudo-intellectual musing. You never know what's coming next.
I'm mostly observational in my material, mixed with a bit of playing a character and also being quietly deadpan. I'm a member of the Campaign for Real Ale, so I opened my showcase performance by adopting a slightly exaggerated persona of a socially dysfunctional real ale nerd, implementing some of the techniques taught by Kate on the course, such as word play and developing an idea way past its logical conclusion into absurdity. I've signed up to the follow-on course now, so I'll see what happens!