The Charlotte Street Arts Centre hosts an evening of stand up comedy on Friday December 15, featuring students from the Finding Your Comedic Voice workshop series.
The Charlotte Street Arts Centre and Solo Chicken Productions invite the public to attend an evening of first-time stand up comics. A showcase, a performance, a celebration of courage? The evening will feature participants of the recent workshop series Finding Your Comedic Voice, hosted by emerging comic, actor and improv artist Gill Salmon.
“The class started initially to help get people over the threshold of doing a stand up set that maybe was too intimidating to approach on one’s own at an open mic,” said Salmon. “I wanted to give people an opportunity to find their voice in a supportive environment with others who were on the same journey, to work on something that they could get feedback on and play around with, and then to try out their first set in a roomful of the gentle woodland creatures that I envision as the audience at every Solo Chicken show.
“I can’t really think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from this, because stand up isn’t necessarily the end goal for everyone. Maybe they just want a reason to leave the house on a Tuesday night and to have someone else plan two hours of their life that they know aren’t going to be a real bummer,” she said.
Finding Your Comedic Voice was a five week workshop series that began on November 14. Since mid-November, more than a dozen students have been spending their Tuesday evenings at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre studying the dos and don’ts of comedy with Gill Salmon.
“We watched comedy and talked about what the common threads are that make something ‘funny’ including tone, misdirection, voice changes, and enthusiasm,” said Salmon. “I ask them to tap into their own experiences and speak from that, because ‘write what you know’ and you know your own experiences the best, and to literally start with introducing themselves which is a great way to start a set.
“It’s really interesting to see people from all backgrounds in this class enjoy each other, give feedback in a productive and helpful way, and to hear what people have planned for the showcase,” she said. “I’m so excited for them and proud of them all.”
Attending a class to learn the fundamentals of comedy is one thing. Getting on stage in front of an audience is something completely different. Are there risks? Sure. Have some students been carrying a pit in their stomach for weeks knowing the class wraps up just before the holidays with an onstage performance in front of friends, family, and total strangers? Probably. But in the end, Salmon says the success of the workshop will not be defined by the closing performance. Instead, she believes those participants who enrolled and came out week after week are already worthy of a standing ovation.
“Even if they don’t make it to the showcase, not everyone does for some reason or another, I think there are benefits of hanging out in a room for two hours talking about comedy, listening to and helping others, and maybe approaching things with more levity than previously,” she said.
“I don’t expect everyone to go on and do open mics all over the city, although that would be cool. But I hope that doing the hard thing of baring your soul on a stage for an audience for five minutes gives them a little dopamine hit, knowing that they DID THIS and if they can do THIS. Surely there are other things they never thought they could do that maybe they could. Personally, I just do it for the attention.”