I have an associate who was a stand-up comedian for a little while. For right now, let’s call him Bill. Bill started out on open mic nights at a local comedy club, and then began touring as an opener for a headline comedian. Bill eventually stopped performing stand-up comedy for reasons I have yet to figure out. But for the short time that he was a comedian, he ended up creating his own course on the art of standup comedy.
Bill would watch Comedy Central obsessively, and study every stand-up comedy act that was televised. He did this for two reasons. The first was to study how the jokes were delivered, and what makes a good joke great. He also wanted to make sure he wasn’t covering material someone else already covered. He read books about comedy, and documentaries about comedians. He always carried a notebook around with him in case he came up with new material. At one point, he started to write comedy bits where he’d tell pretty much the same jokes but in the style of various comedians.
Bill did not come up with this idea himself. It was actually inspired by what he learned about the legendary Richard Pryor. To enhance his comedy performance, Richard Pryor studied all sorts of art forms from acting to pantomime.
All artists should approach their craft in the same way Bill and Richard Pryor approached stand up comedy. Rather than going in blind without focus, artists should try to create their own creative class to teach themselves about their art. Let’s face it, not all of us can afford art school, or a graduate degree in art. For the crazy creatives among us, there isn’t eveb a class for what they do. Fortunately, a degree is not necessary to pursue art. Education and knowledge, however, are necessary to enhance and enrich one’s chosen art. Rather than waiting for a class to fit your art, create your own creative class instead.