Back Workshop Video Previews | "Upstage Vs. Downstage" | "Body Positions" & "Crosses, Turns" | Stage Movement Lessons 26-29: Description | Stage Movement: Registration form
Jim Richardson's Stand-Up Comedy Workshops
Course description:

Choreographing the Joke:
Professional Stage Movement for your
Serious Speech and/or Stand-Up Comedy Act
Lessons 26-29 of 35 Lessons

Dates and times to be arranged, 8-12 hours
Can be taught over the Internet through webcams or live, in-person at your location
Includes 20-page Workbook.
Pre-requisites: none

This 8-12 hour training includes Package of Materials:
1) Hand-outs which outline basic concepts
2) Recommended movies classics which provide good examples of proper Stage Mechanics
          Package is sent out same day you order.

Course Outline
Parallels Between Speakers and Comics
  • Both the serious and funny parts of your speech need to
    be tightly blocked, just like a top-flight comedy routine
  • Once you set your lines, you must also set all your movements
How to take advantage of stage conventions to control audience emotions
  • Neutral figure vs. how posture differentiate between your minor characters and instantly establishes your narrative/central character
  • Technical and psychological reasons for choosing specific body positions and stage areas
  • Planes of the stage, dramatic vs. natural crosses and turns: how to move across the stage without changing your character
Using your "found" performance environment to sell your character, ideas and jokes
  • Re-arranging furniture, standing, sitting, handling props, cuing yourself
  • Exercises: breaking down simple acting problems like eating, falling asleep, reading, etc., to consciously reveal your character and get extra laughs
Every movement you make creates a picture
  • Horizontal vs. vertical vs. diagonal movement, moving with and against the reading vector

Building to an emotional effect so you get really big laughs

  • Number of movements per laugh
  • Finding physical as well as vocal levels
  • The different effects inherent in straight vs. curved lines, short vs. long crosses, short vs. long steps, broken vs. completed crosses
  • Using these effects to re-enforce or undercut each other in order to get a guaranteed Big Laugh!
Strong vs. weak characters are first revealed through movement
  • Master vs. Servant, Auto Mechanic vs. Customer, Bank Officer vs. Loan Applicant, Guard vs. Prisoner, Doctor vs. Patient, Teacher vs. Student, Employer vs. Employee, etc.
Game plan for getting your act together:
  • Example Story to illustrate Mood Value of Stage Areas
    • Compared to scenes from famous movies we will watch together so I can point out tips and tricks
    • Then, you will be able to logically determine how the character in the Example Story should move to create the desired effect
  • Hints on how to become a "Nevada Smith" kinda speaker or comic
  • How to get a laugh before you say anything
Rehearsal discipline
  • Use the Stage Mechanics Check List to verify that you are consciously employing these principles
  • Use your eyes for effect: make the audience look where you want, feel what you feel, etc.
  • Clarity: how to make sure everyone "gets it" by "telegraphing" when they are to laugh
  • Why real props work better than pantomime
  • Why you cannot succeed if you start work on your Stage Mechanics the night before your first live performance: you will get mentally exhausted before you can "set" the movements
  • Leave introductions out: what you are doing should be clear even to a deaf person or to someone who does not speak English
  • When/how to memorize your movements vs. when/how to memorize your spoken jokes
Advanced topic: Movements expressing style
  • Combining types of gesture: angular, curved, abrupt, flowing
  • General types of movement: X movement vs. Y movement, when to do one or the other . . . and when to do combinations of both
  • Matching movement style to background music, period mood pieces, etc.
  • How to teach or be taught a complex movement pattern very fast
  • Archetypal gestures: getting the animal out so more people identify with your physical actions
  • What everyone in the audience knows about sex and violence and why they can judge you by your performance: was it real or fake?

Independent approach to blocking out your speech or comedy act

  • Blocking Notation System which make it clear when and why you are to perform a given movement before, during or after your spoken line
  • Shorthand for writing down all Stage Mechanics principles you are using on your speech/comedy script so you can refer to them during rehearsal and even years later when you want to bring back an old routine

Additional Sources


Why "Stage Mechanics" training can be either private or semi-private:

  • Private: I will be guiding you through several drills which are followed-up by my directing you to successful completion of specific exercises. Eight hours of this work can be done one-on-one since only one character is on stage at a time.
  • Semi-private: However there are a few more exercises which require at least two characters and the final exercises require at least four characters. Participants benefit from watching fellow attendees attempt all the exercises. Therefore, to calculate hours needed, I need to know the total number of participants which can comfortably range from one to twenty attendees. The proportional rate for each attendee can then be determined according to my appointment fees.
Appointment fees:

Consulting fee: $200/hour
All fees are to be paid:
1) in United States Dollars
2) at least two weeks in advance of the training date(s).
More than one person attending = an additional $100/hour per additional person; i.e., two people would be $300/hour, three people $400/hour, four people $500/hour, etc.
Note: on the Registration form, I have used the four persons semi-private, 12-hour training as an example of how I calculate time needed and fees per person.
Page last updated: Wednesday, December 26, 2012, 12:53 pm PST.

Back Workshop Video Previews | "Upstage Vs. Downstage" | "Body Positions" & "Crosses, Turns" | Stage Movement Lessons 26-29: Description | Stage Movement: Registration form