“Every teacher that’s taken this class has felt like they're now a better teacher,” says Ron Reid, a professional comedian who’s been teaching his craft for 30 years. He’s just moved his family, and his comedy classes, from Seattle to Tucson. His business, Artists West Management, remains in Los Angeles, booking comedy professionals into clubs and special events.
But better teachers? This is not what we expect to hear when we ask how Reid knows the class is successful. “I've had teenagers. active duty military, shamans, private school teachers, writers, people from law enforcement and people for whom English is not their first language.” Ron says. What they have in common is what he calls “a huge fear factor in speaking in public.”
Several former students eventually became working comedians in the U.S. and Europe. But the core of Reid’s course involves helping students of all sorts to find their comic voice and gain confidence in public speaking.
“Comedy is actually the only performing art that is not collaborative by nature. The way this class works is very simple. People say whatever it is they want to say with the intention of making people laugh. The rest of the people in the group give them some input. And then they do it again. Essentially it becomes a support group and echo chamber and a rehearsal studio.”
The writing is the least of it, though. “I always give my class a quote from (comedian) Bill Burr. He said to concentrate on the performing aspect, and the jokes will come.
“The emphasis I put in this class is on performance There's plenty of opportunity for folks to learn how to write jokes. There are workbooks. You fill in the blanks. But there is almost no opportunity to learn how to perform standup comedy. It's at least 50 percent performance and less than 50 percent content.”
Perhaps the longest-lasting benefit is the bond. “I make friends. Everybody makes friends. It's a bonding experience for the people who take these classes. Some of them have gone on and had great success, and others have never done it ever again. They all stay friends.”
Reid presents his class in collaboration with Laff’s Comedy Caffe, 2900 E. Broadway, over four consecutive Tuesdays beginning Sept. 12. The fourth class is a performance in front of an audience. Reservations for the $150 course are via LaffsTucson.com/classes.