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Learning to Get Laughs at Dallas Comedy Festival

by Anne Bothwell 26 Mar 2010 9:09 AM

Comedy troups are in town this week to perform at the Dallas Comedy Festival. And there’s a lineup of improvisation workshops. But can you really teach someone to be funny? Stephen Becker poses that question to festival founders in this report from KERA radio this morning.


INTRO: About a dozen improv comedy troupes are in town this week for four nights of performances at the Dallas Comedy Festival. Improvisation workshops will also be taught. But can you really teach someone to be funny? KERA’s Stephen Becker asked that question to the festival’s founders.  Listen to his report from KERA radio here:

If you can laugh, then you can probably make others laugh, too. Clay Barton says the key is figuring out how.

CLAY: “Everyone has some sort of sense of humor, and finding our comedic voice is the hard part.”

Barton and his partner, Amanda Austin, teach improvisation classes at the Dallas Comedy House. That’s the group behind the Dallas Comedy Festival. They say that the key to finding that comedic voice is freeing yourself to let loose and be silly.

AMANDA: “The ones who end up being really successful are the ones who really don’t care at all about their image or anything like that and they’ll just get out there and do stuff.”

Still, that can be tough for people who are used to keeping up appearances. Barton says it’s obvious when performers haven’t let their guard down.

CLAY: “So what we were seeing wasn’t them. It was their defenses. Once they came out of that, it looked a lot different.”

The teachers say it’s actually pretty easy to spot beginning performers who’re starting to get it. They look like younger versions of themselves.

CLAY: “Everybody’s been a kid before, and most people liked that time, so it’s kinda teaching them to play again. You remember that you weren’t self-conscious as a kid, and it’s OK to be not self-conscious now. That’s inside everybody, and most people want that.”

If you’re having trouble locating that inner child, the festival offers workshops Friday and Saturday to help you find him.