“Stand on stage, be yourself, and tell everybody how you see the world.” Jill gives her definition of stand-up comedy and immediately sets aside any anxiety that one might have at attending her comedy workshop. I participated in one of her workshops to find out how to create the perfect LOL.

How to Make Someone Laugh

What Jill offered, as part of the Brighton Comedy Festival, was a one-day-only event: a Stand-Up Comedy Workshop that gives people a taste of what to expect from her more in-depth 12 week courses.

Jill is no stranger to the stage, having performed regularly as an on-stage comedy duo. She retired from the stage about 20 years ago and rather casually started a comedy workshop—gauging from her comedian peers what information they would like to know if they were to start all over again and what things would they rather not have had to learn the hard way. She was soon armed with all the information she needed to start teaching.

Jill is unable to pinpoint the exact moment that she became a comedy teacher; it just sort of happened around 20 years ago. But she's been based at Komedia in Brighton for the last ten years and has seen some of TV's brightest comic stars on their way, Jimmy Carr most famously of all. What Jill's managed to create here isn't just a crash course in comedy, a place to refine and practice one’s gags; she's also constructed a support network, a warm and safe environment for comics at all stages of their career. The one-day workshop gave an appetising sample of this.

Jill Edward's Comedy Workshop

Smacking the Cat in the Face with an Iron…

Jill reveals the secrets of the gag: its crafting, set up and execution. The “set up” (beginning) of the joke lives in the public domain: this is relatable and belongs to the audience. The punch line, however, is a smack in the face: this belongs in the realm of the comedian. The course then works on how to marry the two without leaving the audience feeling alienated, offended or just plain confused.

It has been said that a comedian might come up with 100 jokes and only one will be funny. But how might one create a gag? Indeed, Jill has some formulas for creating the perfect stand-up gag, but it’s how she encourages everyone to work together in order to refine it and its delivery that makes the course really special. With the aid of a few simple templates to get our creativity flowing, we're set with the task of coming up with a one-minute stand-up piece. It’s a daunting task for someone who doesn't consider herself much of a joker, but it’s surprising how many gags you have in you once you get started.

A Moment in the Spotlight

At the end of the workshop I left with a mini stand-up set, which I'd performed under spotlights in front of my fellow students and some family and friends. I even heard a few sniggers! The course had not only built up my confidence in order to get to that point, but it gave me an unexpected feeling of solidarity among my peers. And I suspect this is exactly what Jill aims to achieve.

This course isn’t just for aspiring comedians—I would highly recommend it as a place to go to build confidence, get creative and gain an understanding of how comedian–audience relationship works. But if you're an aspiring comedian, you'll be in safe hands with Jill Edwards.

Jill Edwards Comedy Workshops
Jill-Edwards.co.uk
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Jill also hosts Comic Boom Comedy Club
Facebook Comic Boom Comedy Club
Twitter: Comic Boom UK

Read more articles by Mandi Goodier here

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