A lot of my comedian friend’s poo poo the Greg Dean book “Step by Step to Stand-up” I found it to be a bit confusing in the process of writing a joke and I am still to this day a Judy Carter school of comedy guy when it comes to joke writing. But Greg Dean has changed my performing and remembering of sets and I have to say I have gotten nothing but compliments from day one of using his technique.
I think the greatest compliment I have gotten to date about my stand up was from my buddy Mayo, He hasn’t seen me perform in a long time and we were in a contest together and after I performed.
“That was the best set I have seen you do, So much better than that crap you were doing at the Philly’s Phoniest Contest”
Prior to this technique I have been told that if you were not looking at me why I was telling jokes that it sounded like I was reading them line for line. That was hard to take, but a great to know. That is why I am not an actor and don’t really want to be one.
I suggest you get the book or even better audio book, even though the voice on the audio book is annoyingly goofy. So I am not going to write word for word how it works I will just say how it worked for me. I don’t want to write an entire chapter just what I have learned that works for me.
Rehearsing for my type of comedy: I am would be called a story teller type of comedian. I don’t have or use one liner type jokes, I build all my sets to have a running theme and I try very hard to have a natural flow from bit to bit… this is just how I am.
What I learned from Dean:
There are 2 stages of rehearsal and they are separated into “The Critic” and “The Creator” and you need to teach yourself to separate these two jobs/ways of thinking. This is the most important thing I have learned. The reasoning behind this is that if you rehearse your set with “The Critic” correcting you at the same time you are working on your delivery and tone your are building that little negative “Critic” voice into your head during the your set. So this negative voice will come on stage with you and distract you why you are supposed to be delivering your set and having fun with your audience.
What to do with “The Critic”
You need to give the critic his voice just not why you’re going over your delivery and staging.
You need to use the critic to your advantage he is your friend, and if you use him he will make you a better comedian/writer.
Record your sets and practice sets then listen to it as the critic… make notes of what to change, then work that into the set.
Always critique your work in a space different from your practice area; you don’t even want to see the critic’s space from your practice area. Keep them physically and mentally separated.
What to do when you’re “The Creator”
This is when you are writing everyday like you should.
This is when you are practicing your delivery and staging and open mikes and thinking of what will make a great bit, and watching people.
This is when you learn your set: I am in love with the method I am about to tell you about… its works so well for me I no longer bring my set with me to shows or open mikes, I don’t have a set list and I am so much more relaxed about my jokes/bits. It may not work for everyone but it works for me and I love it. So here we go…again buy the book for better detail.
Don’t learn the words to the jokes: this is the wrong thing to do. You need to turn your bits into Pictures, Sounds and Feelings…sounds a bit odd right. It a way of turning the bit into a real memory that you can recall like telling a story about something that actually happened to you.
If you have a set with say 3 POV (Points of views) like You , The Narrator and a Third character (3 for this example) you will tell that joke or experience from each of those points of views act them out try to get the feel for all three of their feeling. Build an experience where you are more apt to remember the moment not the joke.
Do this until you are no longer trying to remember the words of the bit and now you are imagining that story about the experience you had.
I understand that there are particular words that you need to use for some bits… just practice them into the experience and why that word is being used.
Body Language 55, Tone 38 and Words 7: these are the percentages of how people get their information so build that tonal and body language into your set during the creative. Watch your set with the sound off and see what your body is saying. It’s amazing how many things you can do with body language and vocal tones to get the point across.
I am remembering my sets so much better and having more fun, I have a long way to go but I think this is a great way to rehearse.
Here are links to the books: