Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Yesterday, I taught my Intro to Comedy Writing class at Second City. There are a few things very unusual about this class.

- It's from 4pm - 7pm. Most classes are 7pm - 10pm or on the weekend. This is my first time teaching this time slot. I love it. I get done with enough time to go home and spend some quality time with my girlfriend.

- It's a small class. Most Intro classes are around the 15 mark. We have five, so there's no hiding out. Everybody writes and everybody reads. I don't have to rush through any exercises and there's plenty of time to debrief and check-in with the students.

- Everyone is in their 30's and 40's. And I'm not the oldest! I love having a wide range of ages and types in a class, but there's something refreshing about not having to explain a lot of references or the kinds of points-of-view that only come with, dare I say it...maturity.

Yesterday, we did a brainstorming exercise of writing a list of ten things that piss you off. The exercise leads to the students ranting on paper about a topic. For many of them, this is their first taste of using strong emotion as a tool as well as simply being heard through their writing. The list is just a jumping off point for some monologue and character work, but it's a tremendous amount of fun to hear. Most everything listed I could relate to and those that I couldn't, I still enjoyed because of the irritation in the voice of the writer. I'm not exactly sure why a server calling a group of people in a restaurant "folks" is a bone of contention, but I sure enjoyed hearing about it!

I never do the exercises along with the class because I would too easily make it about me and not facilitate the process properly. But after hearing them today, I decided to do it myself. Now, keep in mind, this is not a top ten list. It's a brainstorming list done with a time consideration. Its the first ten things that come to mind.


1 - Rude drivers who lay on the horn at intersections. It's not helping.

2 - People who are consistently late. To the point where you can count on them being late. You're holding things up and I don't have the time to waste.

3 - People who talk in movie theaters AND at live theater! Where the hell do you think you are? I didn't pay my money to hear YOUR dialogue.

4 - Panhandlers who hit me up for money when I'm flat-assed broke. It's like a cat who gets in your face when you're allergic or people who - having never done so in their lives - suddenly slap you on the back when you have a sunburn.

5 - Being with a group of people at a restaurant where everyone has pitched in on the bill and it's ridiculously short. C'mon, people, pony up! You - the couple - you BOTH need to pitch in. You're not eating for one. And all you losers, it's not the price in the menu. It's that price plus your drink plus tax plus a 20% tip!

6 - Arrogant ignorant stubbornness (Looking in your direction, Mr. President).

7 - Politicians and celebrities who are more wrapped up in looks, perceptions, spins, focus groups and polls. Whatever happened to just being honest and talking to people? We're not all idiots.

8 - Insurance companies. They're like the mob pinching you for protection money. And if you actually need their services, they squeeze harder.

9 - Boob jobs and anything involving a "lift" or a "tuck." And, for Pete's sake, let your pubes grow back in! It's like that weird ultra-tweezed or shaved eye-brow look, but on your crotch.

10 - Unnecessarily poor service. I get it, chubby slow lady who continues her conversation with a co-worker and never makes eye contact with me at the post office on Broadway near Lawrence. Your job sucks. The awful fluorescent lighting and that funky smell which might have more to do with you than the environment there. I'd hate it, too. But it's not my fault and all I want is a frickin' money order.

Whew! I feel better. Doesn't take long. I highly recommend it. You can write and post yours in the comment section. I'd love to read it.