Telling Your Story, Second City

I did a short course on telling your story at Second City. My notes are a little sparse as I was concentrating on making my story better, but the notes I did take are quite useful and are below.

Think about what is unique. Think about perspective, what do people relate to, what resonates, what is the theme.

When it is personal, be vulnerable, think, how does this affect me? Think detailed emotional context, What are the advantages, disadvantages. Who are the characters and what are the relationships?

What do these things say about me?

Most funny in in the editing. Shorten these things down, think about saying more with less, what is the different way of saying this?

When you are telling your story, telling facts is fine, but the real interest is in “How does this affect me?”

Changing words around at the start can change the beat and provide a bigger pay off.

Starting off a story, if you can put in a reveal – i.e. if you can start off with a statement that makes the audience not like you, build it, then reveal that their assumptions were wrong.

Playing improv style games within the story is something the audience will cling on to. For instance, my game was use of a phrase “I’m no pussy”.

Think about wordplay and game within the piece.

Heighten the game with every play, maybe have a twist where the phrase stays the same but starts to mean something else, i.e. feel less sure of the phrase used.

Edit, edit, edit. Take out all the crap within the story.

So, write it out in full, make more ridiculous, write tonnes of jokes around it (try to do a joke at least for every line), remove all the crap jokes and the associated part of the story – slaughtering your babies. If they aren’t progressing the story and they aren’t making the audience laugh, get rid.

One liners all the way through can be made to feel natural, try different ways of saying what you want to say.

Sometimes less is more. More impactful, if what you are saying is implied by something that you are misdiagnosing, but the audience can see.

Use emotion and changes of emotion.

Think what the overall story is, what the subtext, and then, using emotion, fuck with the subtext.

Allow the audience to see where you appear to not to, so you are the stupid one, they are the intelligent ones.

With emotion to sell it, they will love you.


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