Friday Exercise: Keep A Journal

Posted on 19 June 2009

I have been keeping a journal since I was very little. I just liked being able to draw pictures, write poems, and scribble down ideas whenever I felt bored or inspired. Journals are not like diaries in that you don’t have to have the discipline to write something down every day. And you don’t have to go into gawd-awful detail about the mundanities of your life. You can simply keep a wallet-sized notepad in your back pocket and take the odd note on a semi-regular basis.

For writers of all sorts journals are important places to keep details and impressions in order to better portray situations. For comedians a journal is absolutely vital. Much of comedy has to do with the absurdity of the everyday. You need to pay attention to the funny moments that happen directly to you and remember them. For standup this will provide original material and make it possible to perform it believably since you have lived it.

Last night I went to Ross Noble’s performance at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre (review still to come). He had one or two set pieces, but mostly he riffed off the audience to create his comedy. As freeform and spontaneous as his material seemed much of it came from remembering comic details: comic details from life and the repeated use of comic details he had come up with in the moment. Keeping a comedy journal will help you to hold those comic details in your own mind. The journal will also help in developing your comic perspective: becoming aware of what it is, what’s working for you, and making it bigger and funnier. Practising in your journal will prepare you for more effectively improvising on stage.

Friday’s exercise: Get a notebook and this week write down three funny or potentially funny events or details you experienced.

Example: At the Ross Noble performance a couple of young men were playing covers of various pop songs to keep the audience entertained as they waited to enter the performance area. At one point they burst into a rousing chorus of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” This was strange in itself. Funnier was the beefy male guard at the door singing along.

Peace and kindness,


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