Comedy Lessons from a Master

jimmCommunity member
Autoplay OFF  •  2 years ago
What I learned from John Cleese's Autobiography, So Anyway...

Comedy Lessons from a Master

What I learned from John Cleese's Autobiography, So Anyway...

Everything in your life can be laughed at

In Monthy Python's Search for the holy grail, the "black beast of Aaargh" is a bunny. One of Cleese's first memories is being bitten by a bunny. Coincidence? I think not.

Conflict breads creativity and originality

"The creative impulse is sparked by the need to reconcile contrasting views of the world."

Comparison will kill you

If you only compare yourself and your performance against perfection, you'll give up before you start. The best way to beat this is with strong curiosity, and a love of learning.

Panic can be your friend

John Cleese's first rule of comedy: Get your panic in early Panic will help you focus and do the work that just needs to get done.

Your thoughts follow your mood (actions follow both)

John Cleese's first rule of comedy: "Anxiety produces anxious thoughts; sadness begets sad thoughts; anger, angry thoughts; so aim to be in a relaxed, playful mood when you try to be funny

Good Comedy may not be "original"

Some of the best sketches from Monty Python's later years were written and performed in many different versions over many years, and didn't start "perfect".

A good joke is about connecting things that shouldn't be

To "get" a joke requires a mental leap to connect two concepts. The tricky part is judging the width of the jump needed for the joke to be "got". You can't spoon feed, or make the gap too wide.

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2 years agoReply
Conflict is a interesting idea. It seems like the best comedians make fun of themselves and the hardships in their lives

chromiumSilver CommaI like to think I'm amazing
2 years agoReply
This is interesting. I know a lot of people in tech actually learn standup because it teaches you to accept failure

2 years agoReply
@jeremiah - that's really good advice - it can give you a clear growth goal that doesn't feel overwhelming. Thanks for that thought. Cheers.

2 years agoReply
On the comparison point, I've found comparing to somebody a few steps ahead is the trick. Don't compare with perfection, compare with the comedian that is slightly better than you. Or the poker player you barely lost to.

2 years agoReply
@Sydney - Thanks for the compliment. I really appreciate that. I've been doing some research for my coaching business, and learned that Stress isn't necessarily bad (just that the research that's often shared only talks about the bad side of it). I loved how with John Cleese's story, you could viscerally get the idea that Stress/Panic can offer something of value for any creative/entrepreneur.

sydneyVerifiedco-creator of Commaful
2 years agoReply
Awesome story!!! "Panic can be your friend" did not expect that one!!!