I like watching women get excited. No, not THAT way, well maybe a bit THAT way but in this case I am talking about watching women do something they are trying for the first time! (also not meant THAT way, get your mind out of the gutter)
Yesterday I finished my third Comedy Confidence Camp for Women, and love to see the women buzzing on facebook about their upcoming performances (May 10th, Yuk Yuk’s Ottawa). In this case, we have a yoga instructor/crisis counsellor, a business woman who sells bras and face cream, a radio news announcer and the owner of a large resort. Diverse much?
I get excited because they are excited, not just because I make money off this. Yes, I don’t just do this for fun, I really am in business to make money, but having satisfied clients while making money is much better!
The benefits of laughter are well known. Some have even called it “the best medicine” (but do check with your doctor about other options for that rash), but the benefits of being able to regularly illicit laughter, that’s what we’ll talk about in this fully self-serving blog post!
Who are you?
The first part of the workshop focusses on each participant analyzing who they are, where they came from and what they believe. How can you learn your comedic voice if you don’t truly look at what makes the parts of your sum? I take a bit of my old training in Cultural Awareness, mixed with psychology and of course intersectional feminist analysis and poof, in one hour each woman if fully self-actualized! (levels of self-actualization may vary)
This part of the workshop is uncomfortable for most. As one woman asked “what, am I in therapy again?” No, but trust me, it’s all good. They begrudgingly continue and by the end go “oh hey, yep that first part is awesome, thanks Jenn for your wisdom” (paraphrased). The point is this workshop is not to build an army of female comics (but I won’t lie, more women from which to borrow tampons in an emergency is always welcome), but to build confident women in all walks of life. Comedy is just a part of it.
Why are you?
This part of the workshop focusses on why they have come here. Some come for more confidence, some to start stand up comedy, some want to “punch up” their speeches at toastmasters and some may have daddy issues. (by some I mean most)
I ensure that I am able to meet or at least manage each participant’s expectations of the workshop. Testimonials pour in after (after I send four emails asking for them), one even stating the experience was “life changing” (NOT paraphrased). So whatever brings you to Comedy Confidence Camp for Women, trust me, I’ll find a way to meet your needs.
Find the Funny
Using tried and true techniques as well as alternative methods (consider “alt” as a scale since I am a 42 year old boring married woman) we look through their life and “find the funny”. Shockingly, it is not that hard to find. We share stories, experiences and viewpoints and find that everyone has funny things in their life. These funny things can include going to strip club with your dad, alcoholic parents, children, animals, cars, sex (always sex) and even deep dark hard times. Funny can be found in anything, dig as deep or as shallow as you wish, but finding a way to laugh through the dark times while still dealing with the issues can help each person. Part of this is always being able to look at things through different feelings and perspectives. This is a tool that helps develop empathy for others, and to see why some things that don’t seem funny can be EXTREMELY funny, just maybe not to everyone.
Then we get down to business, and write, write and write some more. Ironically, I am not a “wordsmith” comic. I often have more words than necessary, but for sure I understand the structure of most jokes. We go over this, we watch professionals and outline how the jokes work and we write some more. At this point the women get tired. “so much work!” said one participant. The idea that some people think comedy is easy was an interesting revelation to me. I thought everyone respected what I do! ? What they do learn here is discipline, structure, and editing, editing, and more editing! This is not just for stand up, but the discipline in adding humour to any written or spoken work is important. If only the Speech from the Throne had more humour, we’d actually pay attention.
This cannot be understated. The point of this workshop is to help women build confidence through comedy. This does not end in a one day workshop. Each woman received extra coaching the month before their performance. At this point we talk about performing, dealing with nerves, NOT going on stage drunk (after is fine) and more. It is during this phase that we address negative self-talk. Each woman, no matter where they come from in life, begins to doubt themselves. Perfectionist tendencies come out, or in some cases they start to convince themselves they cannot do it. We women sure like to get in our own way! This part I like because so much excitement comes out. We work through the nerves, and we get them ready for a fun night. I am forever thankful to Yuk Yuk’s Ottawa for allowing us to bring up to four women each month to the stage for their debut. Each night has been a fun, full crowd giving the women a captive audience for them to entertain!
This has been an interesting development. My plan never included post show activities. I mean, they paid me, they performed, take the money and run, right? Nope, not with these amazing women. Some have integrated themselves in the comedy scene, performing at open mics. Some have continued writing and have begun to look at themselves in different ways. Yes, they CAN do what they once feared. It opens new opportunities for them to explore, and then to make jokes about those new experiences. Each woman has formed friendships from this experience and I have been asked to have occasional post show workshops for the women to get together. We will do these in the fall when we have more women in our “network” of Comedy Confidence for Women Workshop graduates.
Happy Women = Happy Jenn
So yep, I get happy when I see women excited because of my work. I would keep this going through summer, but alas summer is Kids Confidence Comedy Camp time. I will post new workshop dates for women for the fall, and of course there are two spots left for May but they will fill up fast.
Don’t want to miss anything from The Jenn Hayward Show? Then sign up for our “sort of spammy” newsletter today!