WSJ: At Stand-Up Comedy School, Students Clean Up Their Acts

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At Stand-Up Comedy School, Students Clean Up Their Acts

Working Blue Can Cost Them Green; Making a Starfish of a Stab Wound

By BARRY NEWMAN

Many aspiring stand-up comics equate a dirty mouth with an easy laugh. But one comedy workshop in New York is teaching the opposite: keep it clean. WSJ'S Barry Newman reports.

NEW YORK—Aspiring stand-up comedians often think that making people laugh requires a foul mouth. Could be, but most of them won't earn a cent at it if they can't clean up their acts.

As Jeff Lawrence told a group of somber would-be comics one evening: "If you have a great set and you don't curse, nobody ever leaves going, 'That guy was great, too bad he didn't curse.' "

"Just saying the word [something] doesn't make people laugh," he added unprintably. "So don't say it, for [something's] sake!"

Mr. Lawrence is a fortyish, gay Jewish comic who hasn't quite sworn off swearing himself. He runs a comedy school, called Laughing Buddha, out of a comedy club in Manhattan. After lecturing his class on the importance of immaculate auditions for bookers and agents, he called his students to the stage to run through their material.

First up was David Friedlander, a young man in khakis and a button-down shirt who started with a story about his efforts to lose weight and went on to a vivid anecdote involving genitalia.

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Jeff Lawrence

"David," Mr. Lawrence said when he was done, "you aren't fat. To do fat jokes, you got to be fat." Mr. Friedlander looked down at his stomach. "And you've got a [something] joke and a [something worse] joke," Mr. Lawrence continued. "Too much of a risk there. You just need more stage time. Good stuff, David. Let him hear it!"

The students clapped.

Stand-up wouldn't be stand-up if comics didn't test limits, so it is natural for newcomers to idolize iconoclasts. But comics rarely know they have reached a limit until they have crossed it. With YouTube as a megaphone, several have crossed it lately, telling jokes on such jovial topics as **** and mass murder. Not many comedy bookers were amused. They already know dirt doesn't pay well.

"Dirty comics get famous fast, clean comics make more money," says Bobby Gonzo, a longtime booker for 300 "squeaky clean to medium clean" rooms around the country. "I don't believe in 'hurt comedy,' " he says. "Not raunchy. Not disgusting. Not hurtful."

Patrick Milligan, founder of a New York management outfit called "Cringe Humor," feels Mr. Gonzo's pain, reluctantly.

"Nobody can make a joke about anything anymore," he says. "You talk about a dog drowning and it's, 'Oh, my dog drowned. I'm going to blog about it.' Next thing you know, a comedian's apologizing."

Mr. Milligan coaxes comics to write "a clean set to carry them through the business," and to "address the vile stuff without making it hate speech." Stars like Chris Rock and Louis C.K. still make 'em cringe on major tours and late-night cable; journeymen who don't like watching their tongues have to settle for dives like the ones in Times Square.

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Barry Newman/The Wall Street Journal

Eddie Brill does a stand-up routine at Laughter in the Park in New York.

The 9 p.m. show at the Broadway Comedy Club one Thursday began with a limbo act. Then came four comics who told jokes about Viagra, North Dakota, cocaine, Italians and a spectrum of reproductive and emunctory functions. Steve Marshall closed with: "I know you loved this because you're sick [somethings]! Good night, everybody!"

As the audience left, Teresa Sales, an immigrant from Serbia, offered a review. "I liked the limbo girls," she said. "If they had a fire-eater it would have been cool."

Big-city clubs have a dirty secret: Even the pros earn only a few hundred dollars a set, if that. Stand-up's steady money is at colleges, festivals, churches and—for $10,000 a pop—in the spotless dinners, trade shows and pep talks put on by corporations.

"If you're OK for corporate, you're OK for family, OK for cruise ships," says Suzy Yengo, who owns Catch A Rising Star, a string of clubs dating back to 1972. And OK for parks on summer afternoons.

Suzette Simon produces "Laughter in the Park," a stand-up series funded by New York City and several supermarkets. "It's got to be clean," says Ms. Simon. "I respect freedom of speech, but I need permits. Anyhow, dirt doesn't work in the sunshine."

On a sunny Sunday in Central Park, Myq Kaplan scanned the crowd and opened with: "You guys are my demographic, which is people who know the word 'demographic.' " Comics followed with jokes about animals, smoking, the recession. Phoebe Robinson did a camping joke and a bit about having a white boyfriend. Then she said:

"I'm looking for a family-friendly joke to close on. It's tough. You can't talk about penises." Some people snickered. "You guys have been fantastic!" said Ms. Robinson. The applause was polite.

Working clean, for sure, is tougher than overworking race, sex and obscenity. Sometimes, it is exhilarating, too.

"Clean can be edgy," says comedian Vanessa Hollingshead, who made her maiden cruise-ship voyage last year. "I didn't swear once and they still laughed! Wow, I must have been angry. What a great feeling—to be really mad and really clean."

It is the feeling Mr. Lawrence was hoping to get across to his comedy class as he invited his students to the stage: A mortician, an Orthodox Jew, an Indian Catholic, a woman getting divorced. They were paying $50 apiece for one session on the art of auditioning.

"Some of these people don't even understand what clean is," Mr. Lawrence whispered before Jeffrey Paul approached the microphone.

"I used to work in law enforcement," Mr. Paul began. "I was stabbed on the job. I didn't like the feeling of getting stabbed on the job. The feeling of not getting stabbed? I like that better."

He got a laugh. He then reported an observation he had made in the shower involving his nether reaches. Nobody laughed at that.

"I don't want to hear about your [somethings]," Mr. Lawrence cut in. "I don't want to hear about anybody's [somethings]." Mr. Paul took notes. "But you were stabbed? Stabbed on the job?"

"If you were a fugitive, I went out and got you," said Mr. Paul. One of the students piped up: "Sounds like a bounty hunter."

"Exactly," Mr. Lawrence said. "Instead of giving us your life as a bounty hunter, you're talking about your [somethings]."

"I was stabbed with a Phillips screwdriver," Mr. Paul said, and Mr. Lawrence beamed. "Yes! Yes! Now you've got a little Phillips mark. People think it's a tattoo of a starfish. Run with it! Great stabbing joke! Everybody, let's hear it for Jeff Paul!"

The students put down their pens and gave him a hand.

Write to Barry Newman at barry.newman@wsj.com

A version of this article appeared August 23, 2012, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: At Stand-Up Comedy School, Students Clean Up Their Acts.
 

LiddyRules

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Mr. Lawrence is a fortyish, gay Jewish comic who hasn't quite sworn off swearing himself.
Paging Mr. Watley, I think we have a love connection.
 

Norm Stansfield

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Jesus fucking Christ, that's one long ass article. Here's a motherfucking synopsis: Some cunts think that saying fuck and shit is a bad thing. The fucks wrote a shitty opinon piece about it. Raaaaaaaape, nigga'.
 

oldmandick

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Jesus fucking Christ, that's one long ass article. Here's a motherfucking synopsis: Some cunts think that saying fuck and shit is a bad thing. The fucks wrote a shitty opinon piece about it. Raaaaaaaape, nigga'.
You left out the best part ...

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Don the Radio Guy

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#7
It's actually a good teaching tool. Teach people to be funny out of their comfort zone, it makes them better comedians.
 

Norm Stansfield

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#9
It's actually a good teaching tool. Teach people to be funny out of their comfort zone, it makes them better comedians.
I don't think it's possible to teach someone to be funny. But even if it was, the teacher would have to at least be funny first. Does the shitdick in this article strike you as funny?
 

Don the Radio Guy

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#10
I don't think it's possible to teach someone to be funny. But even if it was, the teacher would have to at least be funny first. Does the shitdick in this article strike you as funny?
You can teach people to perform. Performing comedy and being funny aren't necessarily the same thing in all cases.
 

Norm Stansfield

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You can teach people to perform.
How does the requirement that they WRITE clean jokes teach someone to perform? If the object is to teach them to perform, what difference does it make what the jokes they're telling are?

Are clean jokes and dirty jokes performed differently?
 

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#12
Cunt.



/joke ;)



A theme for the story is that comedians can get a wider appeal and therefore much more money if they are able to perform clean material and not go blue as a crutch. Some people tune out immediately after certain words/concepts are used which is important for performing at colleges, tv and corporate events.
 
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#13
"As the audience left, Teresa Sales, an immigrant from Serbia, offered a review. 'I liked the limbo girls,' she said. 'If they had a fire-eater it would have been cool.'"

This was the worst part.

People that willingly go to "workshops" for anything not involving shelving or decorative chicken coop building are almost always fantastically uninteresting and dull.

On the other hand, gentlemen that go to workshops to learn decorative chicken coop building are always lively and interesting and ruggedly handsome. They also know how to wisely spend an afternoon on a rainy Tuesday.

In fact, some would say that's the source of their disarming sexual charisma.
 

OccupyWackbag

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#14
You can't teach funny but at the same time you don't have to be dirty or curse to be funny.
 

God Loves Fags

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How does the requirement that they WRITE clean jokes teach someone to perform? If the object is to teach them to perform, what difference does it make what the jokes they're telling are?

Are clean jokes and dirty jokes performed differently?
Speaking somewhat from experience... when I started doing stand up, at the shittiest open mics in the city, the shittiest comics I met there were shocked, SHOCKED that I didn't do any workshops or classes before trying a mic. Then you quickly stop associating with those people and find the people who are good comedians and would never have anything to do with a comedy class--the only legit comedy class is just bullshitting with all the amateur comedians you meet, since no one likes talking from a place of quasi-authority more than a comedian, especially about the subject of doing comedy. Once you do comedy for at least a few months and learn how to put bits together and know what energy to have on stage, and can get some decent laughs, the idea of going to a comedy class is completely absurd.

I think the only real point of all classroom activity is to find a community of similar people, and that might be one of the attractions of a comedy class...except for the fact that if you do open mics every night, after a while you'll make friends who are totally committed to the same thing you're into, and you don't have to pay for it or listen to some 'comedy teacher' say unfunny bullshit all the time.

I don't think you can teach people how to perform...you have to learn that yourself, and the less people involved in it, the better. I remember being totally, insanely nervous before the first time I did stand up, but I kept that energy intact, and figured out how to develop my own voice on stage (to some extent). You have to use that uncertainty and nervousness to create your own delivery--you wouldn't want someone to tell you how to make sense of your own idea of what comedy is, because comedy can literally be anything you want it to be, more than any other art form. I think comedy 'teachers' who take money from aspiring comedians should be fucking shot.
 

Don the Radio Guy

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#16
Most comedy classes are crap, but it is a trade that can be learned if someone has at least some talent.

And practicing things you're not used to is absolutely useful in any performing art.

Just yelling fuck and racial slurs isn't funny.
 

LiddyRules

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#17
How does the requirement that they WRITE clean jokes teach someone to perform? If the object is to teach them to perform, what difference does it make what the jokes they're telling are?

Are clean jokes and dirty jokes performed differently?
The only thing I can argue is that teaching people to write clean might inspire them to think outside of the box (I hate that term) and try to experiment with different avenues. It's not a rule, but being forced to try different things can be useful as both a writer and performer. I'm not saying that I agree with "clean is keen!," but as an exercise I can accept it.
 

Party Rooster

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#19
You can't teach people to be funny in a classroom, much like you can't teach housewives to be good in the sack by having them go to some "stripper pole" class in a strip mall next to a yogurt shop.
 
Jul 17, 2012
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#20
You can't teach people to be funny in a classroom, much like you can't teach housewives to be good in the sack by having them go to some "stripper pole" class in a strip mall next to a yogurt shop.
Woah woah let's not get ahead of ourselves. This thread is about shitty stand-up comedy. There's no need to slander the elegant world of shopping plaza Strip Aerobics studios.

Until you've spent a half hour gazing into those beautifully-lit temples of worship while finishing off a Chicken Baja Chalupa and Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes(no sour cream) and waiting on your grandmother to finish chatting with the druggist about acid reflux medication, you don't know what living life to the fullest actually means.
 
Sep 28, 2010
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#21
What school teaches liberal comedy? Because that's some of the best stuff out there. That frumpy lesbian should totally be selling out MSG and not that coffee shop.
 

LiddyRules

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#23
I don't get how not using the word fuck or not using penis jokes is "liberal."
 

Lord Zero

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#24
That article is enraging and was obviously written by someone who knows nothing about comedy. I have no problems with comedians and bookers who choose to go the clean route, but I have a huge problem with unfunny fucks that teach comedy classes (who are usually untalented failures and nonentities in the business) making broad edicts about their "pupils'" acts. If you're going to teach comedy, teach people how to write and perform; DON'T tell them what material to do.

This shit makes me miss Patrice even more.
 

Lord Zero

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Aug 25, 2008
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#25
I tracked down Doug Stanhope's blog post about the scam of comedy classes. It's long, but it's a great read and definitely worth the time.

http://www.dougstanhope.com/journal/2010/7/12/comedy-death-camp.html

DougStanhope.com said:
Comedy Death Camp

MONDAY, JULY 12, 2010 AT 10:29AM




It is very easy for a comic - or anyone I guess - to get bogged down in hate and cynicism.

I am guilty of that most hours of the day. It has nothing to do with money or career or all the other trivia. While some of my bitterness could be attributed to excessive drink, it is mostly rooted in the idiocy that surrounds me and the shit people will accept as good or correct or real, etc, without any question whatsoever.

Regardless, it is still hate and whatever angst I can't immediately turn into comedy proceeds to ruin my daily life. So I try to limit my exposure to it, recognize it for what it is and move on.

Try something new. Travel someplace I've never been. Try food I've never tasted. Listen to music I've never heard. And hate all of it.

It's important - especially in my business - to have a very deep well of hatred.

One thing though that I've hated since even my youngest,hope-filled days as a comic - worse than bad comedy, hack comedy or even joke thieves - are people who teach stand-up comedy classes.

Keep in mind that before I started comedy, most of my young adult life was spent working in low-level fraud - from toner scams and ad-specs to inventor/patent hoaxes. But comedy classes fall into that gray area of deceit - like Jesus or psychics or chakra healing - where you can't prove that it's a con.

Say what you will about any Carlos Mencia, Dane Cook or Jeff Dunham but I would lay Rubenesque on my side, chin cupped in my limp hand blowing the lot of them before I would say one positive thing about anyone who steals money by teaching a comedy class.

They are all 100 percent bullshit. It wouldn't matter if it were Pryor, Carlin and Mark Twain at the podium at the Holiday Inn banquet room, it would be them ripping you off.

Usually it works out that the folk who teach this shit never did any comedy on any actual paid level and act like fly strips for those whose dreams outweigh any innate skepticism. Maybe the person bullshits a community college into letting them conduct a course or puts an ad in the weekly to siphon a few suckers out of the woodwork.

These people are loathsome enough but don't create much damage.

Then there are people equally as worthless but with better "marketing" skills that can make a career out of it.

See Judy Carter.



She's been grifting would-be comics since before I learned how to do stand-up myself (the only possible way to learn comedy.) J.C. had the audacity to write a book called the Comedy Bible with no more qualifications as the guy at the VFW hall who re-words old Polish jokes into Iraqi jokes or whatever the unpopular country of the day may be.

Somehow she made a living out of it as opposed to settling for the beer money that others are content with but her success makes her no more legitimate than a snake-oil salesman's success makes his tincture actually cure whooping cough.

Then you have the worst breed yet - the industry guy who has NEVER done comedy teaching you from an "Insider's Perspective." This is someone who used to be an agent or casting director or some other "behind the scenes" guy claiming to have secret knowledge of what the big-wigs in television are looking for.

I'll tell you exactly what they are looking for - people who are getting the most attention from other industry. They wander like blind coyotes in packs and jump on whatever seems to be creating the most noise. They have no insight and scramble around whatever apple is the shiniest like cartoon drunks in a scrum around Mardi Gras titties.



Somewhere around 1998 there was a comic named Michael "Chicken" Roof who played the Montreal Fest and - so far as I know was the last comic to get a big development deal there. I think he is the reason why Montreal is just a cheap knock-off of it's former self.

Chicken's act made Dane Cook look like Lenny Bruce. Dane Cook has the courtesy of proposing a reason to gesticulate. Chicken had bits as simple as saying "Dont you hate dance clubs" before hitting some heavy dance music and dry-humping a guy in the front row.

That's the whole bit.

Zero joke, zero punchline, crowd goes fucking fall-down bananas. Blind coyotes rear up from their mango-tinis and throw half-million dollar offers based on 6 minutes of this shit. Agent takes an offer, cancels the rest of Chicken's show at the Fest lest they see through the veneer and second-guess it all.

Chicken rides out on the shoulders of idiots, goes nowhere and eventually kills himself.

Am I saying that Industry killed Chicken? No, I'm insinuating it. There's a difference.

And now Industry is teaching classes to "Step Up Your Stand Up."

See Jeff Singer.

He is the newest and maybe the worst in that he has actual credits that sound very good unless you know what they entail - being a manager and a producer in Hollywood is something any used car salesman could do and just because you've produced comedy doesn't mean you have skill to even critique it much less sell yourself as a coach.

Jeff Singer is most shameful doing this because he is also the talent guy for the Montreal Comedy Festival, the iron pyrite gold ring for up-n-coming comics. Singer isn't just dangling a carrot in front of you with his sham comedy workshop, he's flopping it out of his pants and rubbing it on your lips while you cry on the couch.

Industry people might have their names appear in the credit-scroll on a lot of shows but I guarantee you that 999 out of a 1000 times, if the show was funny it was because the talent fought hard enough to stop the Industry fuck from ruining it with his "insider knowledge." You might as well get financial advice from the brick-layer who built the bank.

But worse yet...



...now there is a plague called Kyle Cease who has either bribed, bullshitted or butt-fucked his way into making Louie Anderson a de facto partner with him in the biggest Comedy Hucksterism that I have seen in 20 years called "Stand Up Boot Camp."

I really don't like to say bad shit about other comedians. It sucks when people say bad shit about you - it does to me - and I wish I'd taken a higher road on a lot of occasions. So in defense of Kyle Cease, I will admit that I don't know if he is purposely pick-pocketing the weak or if he is simply a person with delusions of mediocrity.

Either way, Stand Up Boot Camp is without question a complete waste of time, money and probably more damaging to your chances of being a successful comedian than cutting out your own tongue. Unless it's worth hundreds or thousands of dollars to have a guy you've never heard of introduce you to Louie Anderson and then blow toxic fumes up your ass for an afternoon.

Comedy Defensive Driving will do you as much good but I wouldn't tell you that a DUI will help you become a stand-up comic.

I was once in my early years of comedy and semi-popular in the ranks of the open mics in Phoenix when a comic higher-up in the ranks - Joey Scazzola - caught me giving advice to a new guy.

He said "Never give anyone advice because you're only telling them how to be more like you." Every time I've erred and given someone advice, I remembered that.

If you want advice, you most likely just want someone to reassure you of what you already know. If they tell you otherwise, you'll either discount it or you'll take their advice and no longer be following the instincts that got you in this to begin with. So either way, you didn't need the advice.

But if you really want the advice anyway, you can get it very easily for free without going far out of your way. If there's one thing that you never have to pay for, it's some other jerk-offs opinion.

You'll get the same advice from the comic at the bar after a gig in your local comedy club or on any comedian's forum or any stand-up comedian message board, etc etc. And it will be free and worth just as much.

This is where Kyle Cease goes from confidence man to megalomaniac. He sells this shit no differently than religion - let's say Scientology to give a more telling analogy. It's simply about you BELIEVING in yourself in his eyes.

Really? I could give you 1,000 examples of people who DON'T believe in themselves and are great because of it but I'll stop at Dave Attell. I have never met anyone more down on themselves than Attell - hates himself every step of the way, second-guesses every joke, every set and goes home feeling like shit about his act every night.

Oh, and he's one of best comedians of our entire generation either in spite of it or more likely because of it.

Where's that in your class, Kyle Cease? Do you even consider shit like that, you fucking orphan-snatching Fagin?

The simple math is that it is highly unlikely that you ever make a living at stand-up, no matter how rosy your outlook is or how much you believe in your inner-worth.

That would be almost the same as me telling you that you can win at roulette if you just keep repeating "I think I can, I think I can, I know I can, I know I can..." and on n on.

Only 3000 bucks, please.

Fucking rotten, soul-plundering asshole.

Even if he honestly thinks he's doing a good thing because of the smiling faces of false hope that walk out of the Aw Shucks Comedy Mall into the early evening air, he won't be around when all those dreams turn into shit and you are blaming everybody but him down the road.

Let's go over some of the garbage from his website regarding his Stand-up Mastery 5 day class, ignoring how much just the idea of him saying that you can master stand-up in 5 days makes me want to kill his innocent family in front of him on Day 2. Make that funny, you slice of shit cancer.

Remember - this is 60 hours in 5 days - that means 12 hour days if you don't wanna do the math like I didn't.

Day 1. He tells you that you'll meet stars, headliners, agents and managers all at the "legendary" Comedy Store in LA.

Um... you could do the same thing by paying the cover at the Comedy Store and hanging around all night. But if you take his class, they will all know you're a complete chump who took a comedy class and you'd lose any credibility before you got past "Hello."

Day 2 he tells you that it's time to work on marketing and your relationship with industry and bookers. That's really how most comics get started. Work on marketing before you pay any attention to having an act. But again, this is the day I want to kill his family in front of him - and who wants to work on their act after that? Let's stick with 12 hours about Facebook til the grieving wears off.

Day 3 - if you made it this far without phoning an attorney, a consumer rights advocate from the local news and another guy to kill his extended family including any sperm he might have spilled while cashing your check - on this day you "work together and we all benefit!"

Or as he explains, they "find all the people in the room who also book rooms, work regularly, tour, and can offer help." Sounds like a day where he leaves the teaching to everyone else while he blows L Ron Hubbard's mummified remains in the ladies toilet.

Day 4 and 5 are evidently for the VIP and Executive members. I don't know what that means but he evidently took the marketing class first as well. It tells you that headliners - which he rightfully doesn't seem to classify himself as - will tag your jokes. That means when you do a joke about blowing L Ron Hubbard's corpse in a ladies toilet, Ant will wake up and tell you to snap your fingers and say "you go, girl!" afterwards and you will now kill your own family rather than face the shame of wasting money on this.

Here's where it gets really ugly for the poor, poor bastards who don't know any better...

For the extra money of getting the VIP or Top Gun or ****** Please package, they will tape you on the final night showcase and send it out to industry.

Read this again... THEY WILL TAPE YOU AND SEND IT OUT TO EVERYBODY IN THE BUSINESS.

If the all-caps didn't clue you in - This is a Bad Thing. It's the Worst Thing anybody could do to a new comic. It is the equivalent to spending five days telling a virgin how to fuck a girl, filming their first time and sending the tape to everybody in adult entertainment, explaining you it will help their fledgling porn career.

Ask Kyle Cease or any working comedian to show you a tape of their first time - or first years of comedy and they'd recoil at the thought. Much less sending it out to agents and networks.

It is abominable. It is shit-baggery at it's worst. And they charge you money for it.

You might- or must - ignore the fact that Kyle Cease is an inarguable nobody WITHIN comedy, much less outside of it. God knows why Louie Anderson attached his name to it but at the same time Louie Anderson wouldn't have the most cursory idea in how to get started in stand-up today. He'd tell you to mail your VHS tape to Budd Friedman and hope for the best.

Sure there are contemporary comedians that may sit in and give you advice for a minute. Why? Because it's a gig and they are getting paid. For the same way they will do a show at your college or chime in on a VH1 list show, they will drive across town to tell a bunch of boneheads to "just keep writing and performing" or "find your own voice."

They'd tell you the same thing at a bar for nothing if you asked. It's all bullshit and it's all available for free.

Should you take my advice? Fuck no. I would have told Dan Whitney to dump that silly "Larry the Cable Guy," that he'd never make a dime with that goofiness. I would have told Daniel Tosh that his show would never work, that he was just interrupting good Youtube footage like a latter-day Bob Saget. I would have been wrong on many occasions.

My best advice doesn't even work for me. I thought going on stage on mushrooms for New years Eve would make for exceptional comic insight. I've convinced myself that 2900 dollars in the bank is "fuck-you" money. I was sure that making fun of a tragic burn victim in a room nearly empty would be hilarious - especially to the burn victim. Oops.

You learn everything from experience. You could get a doctorate in listening to someone else's road and not get shit from it.

I'm grumpy and caustic and miserable all around and my advice isn't worth a sack of rat-shit either. But I know a raging scam and dream-profiteering when I see it.

All the Stand Up Boot Camp classes - whether it's a two-day "immersive" or a 5 day "mastery" - say that seating is limited. It's limited to how many of you retards will actually show up. So much so that they do actual live telemarketing.

I think the part that really threw me over the edge is when was a comic in Denver - a working comic that came highly recommended to me by other comedians - told me that Kyle and Louie Anderson cold-called him on a conference call saying they'd heard he was a comedian and wanted to know if he wanted to take his comedy "to the next level."

Even knowing how much garbage this comedy class is, for a new comic that has to be a very intimidating moment. Fortunately, he didn't fall for it. But who knows how many cold-calls they had to make to fill the limited seats. I'm surprised they didn't offer him a clock radio or a waffle-maker if he'd just come and listen to a brief presentation.

I don't condemn someone for making a living. I'm not some Hicks-ian "You do a commercial, you're off the artistic roll-call" purist. But I am whole-heartedly against people who prey off the innocent delusions of the incapable.

"You sure could kick field goals in the NFL, Mr One-Legged Man! You just have to Believe! 3000 dollars, please."

You contemptible parasites. Fuck you.

And for this whole night of hate and vodka and spell-check and Wikipedia, a world of desperate dreamers will still part with hard-earned money just to waste a day or a week of lies and sunshine amongst a veritable AA meeting of other suckers - all of whom were lucky enough to get a limited seat and all of whom are told they are good enough because Kyle "Who?" Cease said it was so.

I'll make you an offer.

If you really want to give your money away for free advice that will probably do more harm than good, I'm going to teach a class.

It's called Doug Stanhope's Comedy Death Camp.

No, I'm not kidding.

I'll do it next year so you have time to save up your money - late spring or fall - somewhere out in the middle of the desert or maybe even at my house so you can run some errands between absorbing my genius.

It will last 5 days but for anyone who has taken Kyle Cease's class there will be an extra day to de-program you with wine and angry bees.

You will perform every night for local "The Hills Have Eyes" tweakers or bikers or whoever we can con into watching you - a far harder task than getting students. You'll get advice from everyone and most of it will conflict - just like real-world comedy.

You'll be filmed but not under the guise of helping, only to exploit your naivete -just the same as Kyle Cease does.

Day One will be the same - meet stars and headliners and club owners and agents. They won't give a fuck about you, they are just friends of ours there for a party. It's like Montreal only more selective and without the pretense.

On day one, we just get fucked up and hang out until you perform, then we get more fucked up while we give you the free advice that's included in the enormous fee.

Day two - everyone will be hungover and it'll be hot as fuck. You won't wanna get up but you'll have to for radio. Sure, it'll just be a podcast but it will last on the internet forever so you'd better put your "A" game on. Then you'll receive unsolicited advice from all corners and enjoy an all-day yet intermittent symposium from me called "All Comedy Classes Are Bullshit Including This One." This will probably start on day one and last sporadically throughout but technically it is scheduled for day two.

I'll try to invite my brother as he's the only family I have left for you to kill and I want to play fair.

Day 3 is "Work on Your Act day" where you are berated for not having been working on your act this whole time. You've only been doing comedy this long and you haven't been working on it? Un-fucking-believable. Night 3 is Carlos Mencia night where you steal another classmates act and see if you can do better with it than that shit you wrote yourself. Club owners will be watching and don't give a fuck who wrote it.

Day 4 is where all of our serotonin levels have plummeted and we feel really bad about the shit we've been giving you and actually try to help. Of course, we won't be of much help but we'll be honest about it. By now you will have some beefs with the other members of the class because some will be better than you or have gained favor with us for reasons other than comedy merit such as drugs or hot-chickness or maybe they have a connection and can get us free Bose headphones. That's the reality of the business. Tonight you'll try to find a way to one-up or sabotage them.

Day 5 will probably be an Ambien blackout for me so just make some shit up.

Day 6 we'll all go to Vegas and the pick of the litter will open for me. Based on some loosely judged contest we will pick a Grand National Tomorrow's Next Huge Comedy Star or otherwise amplified title and on

Day 7 I will fly with you to Reno and bring you to the Bunny Ranch to fuck a whore on the house.

You'll be left to find your own way back, go home and tell all of your friends the stories and then you'll be back to where you'd be after Kyle cease's stupid fucking rip-off class - trying to do stand-up comedy after a week's worth of effort.

My class will cost one more dollar than Kyle's- never price yourself lower than someone less known and remarkably unmemorable. Space will be limited to how much money my bank holds and the accommodations will make your first comedy condo on the road seem like Valhalla.

But the drinks will be on me, ladies and gentlemen. The advice will probably be of no effect, the stage time will be nothing but adrenaline and fear, the party will be unforgettable until you blackout and we put it on the internet and none of it matters because we all die at the end.

Stay tuned for details on how to sign up at www.comedydeathcamp.com.

In the meantime, I might take a refresher at Kyle and Louie's class. Get my wig and my fake mustache.

******************************

I've noticed other comedy classes have a "win free passes" or "get 50 dollars off" propositions so in keeping with the theme...

Find 5 places that I'm a hypocrite in the update above and we won't pee on you while you sleep at Comedy Death Camp.

Act now!