Comedy Course Day 2: ‘Creativity & Spontaneity’

Today we started with a variety of random warm-ups to get us out of our heads and into our bodies. This, like last week, was very awkward. Well for me anyway, as some of the group were having the time of their lives. It was as if they were born to act over the top.

It’s all about bringing out all these different awkward characters, the kind that appear when playing with your mates in the pub: the English gent, the patronising parent, the over-sympathising teacher, or that creepy pervert at a party.

I found that I just couldn’t focus on any of these games. This could be partly due to the fact that we hosted a christmas ‘Nibbles and Drinks’ thing the day before, which started at 2pm and ended at a rather late 1am!

One of the warm-up games involved the group over-acting with such melodramatic extremity, that I couldn’t help thinking that any second now a camera crew are going to burst through the door and in a ‘You’ve Been Framed’ style moment and everyone would turn out to be paid actors… and I would look like a complete knob.

To my relief the camera crew never appeared and also more importantly, the warm ups were over. Phew.

The first task involved writing a poem as if you were a poetic god, who just couldn’t help but write or speak poetry with every breath (sadly this is all in the person’s head and they are in fact terrible poets in every way).

This is my poem… before I start, I have to make it clear that we only had 5 minutes to prepare, and I have no idea where he came from, he just evolved.

My Precious Stolen Stollen Bites — I saw, I enjoyed, mine, mine, mine

As I stand there in Tescos joy
Of discounts and desperately lonely shoppers
The sex stollen bites calls to me
“Come to me my precious, come to me”
I run, I skip, I slither, to those little gems
And without a moments thought
I grab and eat the stollen in my sight
Such joy, my precious, such joy
That I ate the packaging too.
Was that so bad, my precious
My precious, my precious, my precious

I was asked to imagine if this character had written another poem possibly from a psychiatric ward or padded cell, could this be combined with other people’s poems to create a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival? Could we end the show with my character being dragged away by men in white coats ?

Then it was onto the next game, to write a 30 second video for the Lonely Heart Channel. Once again we had a few minutes to sculpt our masterpieces, so our inner critics had little time to point out the poor levels of shit we had created.

What is really interesting is that actually there is very little between writing and spontaneous role playing as ways of creating material. I have gained material from a few minutes of spontaneous play which is just as good, if not better, than the stuff I have written and re-written for a few hours.

The day continued with different games, all of which allowed us the freedom to explore and create spontaneous sub-conscious thought. Supposedly if you can keep the conscious distracted the sub-conscious can really come into its own.

The final game of the day known as the A-B-C game involved 2 people having a conversation with the first person starting their sentence with the letter A and then the second person starting their sentence with the letter B, and so on.

This game is quite straight forward if you know your alphabet, though being dyslexic this was proving to be slightly harder than I originally thought. But I had, what Baldric would call, a cunning plan! I wrote down the alphabet so I could never make a mistake! Genius.

What I hadn’t realised was that this would result in me continuously looking at my book! Haha. So my plan evolved into the idea of having notes blatantly stuck all over the stage in the style of a Morecambe and Wise sketch. Nice.

Homework: Write a letter to someone, or something, that you hate as a thank you letter. If you attack something with a curve ball, it could be a way to unlock a joke. Write no more than 1 page of A4. Christ, last time I had to do homework, I think the dog ate it!


Dan Tambling is a stand-up comedian, sketch comedy writer, actor and producer of ‘12 sketches in a London house’. This is his blog.


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