Friday, January 07, 2011


I've done OK for a comic who doesn't want to leave the Bay Area. A few years ago, I started getting lots of people asking me for advice on Riffing. It's the one thing I do better than most everyone else. It’s taken me some years to proudly and honestly state that, without following it up with some sarcastic, self-deprecating comment. The truth is I am a damn good comic, who has a great skill. I also believe that in a field where a lot of people charge a lot of money for something they aren't doing themselves, I charge a fair price for imparting my accumulated knowledge.

I started teaching classes on riffing, with the understanding that I couldn't make anyone funnier; I just gave them a basic understanding of what happens when a comic is flying without a net. Those went over really well. I also learned I’m a pretty good teacher. In fact, it’s something I’ve come to enjoy as much as performing. I can also say that with a degree of sincere humility, and mean it.

I think if you're going to learn to do anything - car repair, computer work, or comedy – you’ll learn more from someone who’s not only already working in that field, but thriving in it. If you want to lean the tools for riffing, I can explain them to you. I’m a working stand-up, who’s known for riffing. I can't think of a better sales pitch than that. If you want more proof, check out this video clip.

My riffing class is happening at Rooster T. Feathers on Saturday, January, 29th from 1-4PM.

It costs $80 per person. Click here for more details.

Doing anything for eighteen years not only means you pick up a lot of information, it also means that, like any relationship, you’ll go through periods where you’re just not feeling it. If I had to describe my comedy style, it would be storytelling. The bit that got me on Comedy Central’s, “Live at Gotham” was a story about a homeless man and a pigeon.

There are plenty of standups who crave more expression, and they usually go into solo performance, one-person shows. I still love standup, but I saw the limitations of what could be expressed on stage, in a comedy club. I wanted to tell the backstories of how jokes evolved and were formed. Early in my comedy career, when I was on the road constantly, I hit a cow in the Utah desert. It is, I think, an amazing story that’s become the central story of who I am as a comic. I told it on stage one night when I was feeling cocky, and wanted to impress a girl in the audience. It destroyed. That’s when I decided I had to try something that sounded simple: storytelling.

Somewhere between the plastic, used-car-salesman delivery of dick jokes, and the over-emotional, over-choreographed blocking of a solo performance, there’s the middle ground: Storytelling. Along with a friend, I created a show called “Previously Secret Information”. Right from the start, it did well. The next time we put up PSI, it also did well; and the time after that, and the time after that one, too. At this point, it’s safe to say this isn't a fluke. We’re onto something audiences are hungry for. It’s bare and raw, hilarious, and starkly poignant at times; simply great stories, told well, by people and performers who know how to tell a story. People started asking about classes. At first I thought, “I’m not qualified to teach something I’m relatively new at.” Once again, friends reminded me that I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I’ve been a comic. Not to mention, I started a new show, from scratch, in San Francisco – that’s succeeded more quickly than any show anyone’s seen in a long time. The press likes us, and each person who comes walks away wanting to help promote, create or contribute to it in some way. Another sign that we’re onto something!

Long story short, I’m starting a three-week class in the art and performance of storytelling. Let me be clear about what this isn't. There will be no writing exercises or endless improv games, or a lot of discussion about what your feelings really mean, man. A great story has all those components, and I can help people uncover those, but instead of working along the edges of something I want to jump right in and work to get all those things out of your story, with your story. It just makes sense. I’ve learned, and I think you will, too, that telling a great story is not telling it, but performing it. Memorizing words off a page doesn't make it come alive; it only makes you sound like you're reciting what may have been an amazing personal tale. My storytelling class is all about the mechanics of being on stage. You won't be telling your story. You’ll be performing it. That’s what a live audience wants, and that’s’ what you’ll learn to give them.

Here are the details on my storytelling class.

Saturday afternoons 12-3PM

March 19th, March 26th & April 2nd.

$300 Per Person

at StageWerx Theater

More details on the class? Click the link bellow.

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