The Teaching Trifecta

Thursday September 15th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

Opportunity keeps knocking, and I’m not complaining. Today I received an offer for yet another comedy class teaching situation, this time at a place called Improv Playhouse. It’s located not far from me in Libertyville, IL and it would be a perfect fit – even with what is already scheduled both at Zanies and Harper College. All the clienteles will be different.

Zanies is a comedy club located in the city, and most of the people in the past who have taken that class have been at least curious as to what it takes to become a full time touring comedian. The nightclub circuit is not the only outlet for comedians, but since the 1980’s it’s probably been the most popular one. There has been a whole industry forged from it.

Harper College is something completely different. Many people won’t set foot in a club for many reasons. They don’t like the idea of a bar situation and having to deal with those who drink liquor. After a lifetime of dealing with drunken imbeciles trying to ‘help’ make my shows better, I can sympathize completely. Another reason is a fear of off color jokes.

This is another point I can see as well taken. Too many comedians, especially new ones, rely on filth to provide shock value when it totally isn’t required. I’m not offended by any topic personally, but there is a skill level required to effectively pull off an X-rated show.

It’s funny to hear newbies staunchly stand behind solid examples of people like George Carlin or Richard Pryor who were known for their salty language, but I tell them correctly that both of those guys are perfect examples of someone who first learns, then masters the fundamentals of comedy before choosing to veer off. They earned the right to do that.

I always teach my students to work clean at first. There are too many things to go wrong in the first few years to have room for a reputation as a dirty act. Nobody wants to follow filth, even someone who chooses to be blue themselves. It takes away any shock value.

This is all smart business, whether a new performer realizes it or not. Many mistakenly think I’m out to sabotage their career, when in fact I’m trying to help them construct one. Viewpoints differ greatly between the students at a Zanies vs. those at a Harper College.

Improv Playhouse will be yet a third client base, more of a hybrid. The guy in charge is also a performer named David Stuart. He’s very sharp, and runs a well organized business that has a variety of services neither Zanies nor Harper offers. He has improv classes and I believe they offer acting classes as well. Their website is

I have to believe a certain percentage of the improvisers and actors will take standup out of curiosity, a smart move actually. They’ll see I know what I’m talking about, and I hope it will add to whatever they’re already doing. My goal is to give each student personal one on one attention, and make sure they have an idea of where they want to go with standup comedy. Plus, the locations of all three are so far apart I don’t see any conflict of interest at all. They are separate entities, and I’m going to enjoy them all. I love teaching classes.


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