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Topic: Comedy Camp
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (May 26, 2006 06:51AM)
For over 22 years now, Jamie Masada, owner of the Hollywood Laugh Factory, has hosted a ten week summer Comedy Camp for 35-40 disadvantaged kids. This camp teaches these kids with disabilities, from foster and welfare homes and depressed neighborhoods how to perform stand-up comedy. The goal is not to produce world-class stand-up comic, but to teach the young teens self-confidence, goal setting and the awesome power of personal achievement. The biggest names in the comedy world support and volunteer for this camp. The results are amazing and heart-lifting.

Even though I don't have Jamie's resources and access to people like Jim Carrey, Chris Tucker and Jay Leno, I believe I would like to try something like this here in 2007. Comedy is comedy and kids are kids. Has anyone ever done anything like this? Any shortcut assistance in coming up with a lesson plan, business plan, grant proposals, class materials, etc would be appreciated.

I'm in contact with the Laugh Factory, but any other input would be appreciated and useful. Thanks!
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (May 26, 2006 11:01AM)
Skip I have been involved with the exact project you are speaking of.

My experience is that it is a tough tough tough road to hoe.

I will offer one word of caution before you decide to procede. Then any help I can offer I will.

Comedy and teaching it is very very very boring! It is the most dry subject you will ever cover. This is why the HUGE drop out rate of most courses even among adults.

Trying to cover this subject matter with children of any sort is tough. Disadvantaged children it REALLY is tough.

Frankley I would think more along the lines of something like a variety course. Teach some kids juggling, magic, mime, singing, instruments, and so forth. THAT way they can all learn something they pick themselvs, they are not pidgen holed into one thing. It is easier to reach levels of achievment at these endevours also. To learn to juggle 3 balls is LOTS easier than to learn to tell one joke well. Same with magic, guitar, piano, and so forth.

Your results will be "tangible" much faster. Plus you will have access to 10 times as many "volunteers" as if you stuck with just the "comedy" format.

Let me know if I can help at all.
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (May 26, 2006 12:43PM)
Thanks, Danny. Advice heard and heeded. As you know, being a brother of the badge, I've dealt with "disadvantaged" kids as an investigator and probation officer for two decades. I'm accustomed (as much as one can be with kids carrying so much baggage) to their whims and 'tudes. You also know that we share the common experience of having taught adult comedy classes through our local clubs.

I think the biggest problem I've faced is getting students to look inward and place the spotlight squarely on their own physical and environmental challenges. The second is getting them to fight past the inborn fear of public speaking. Those few who make it past these initial challenges don't always sparkle on stage...but they usually learn how to enjoy themselves and feel some level of accomplishment.

The "variety" idea is an excellent one...and already in play through two other programs in the area...one a novelty theatrical project and the other a circus skills camp. Jamie's program starts with 40 kids and whittles the group down to 2-4 truly gifted kids with real potential. He focuses on one skill: creating and presenting a five-minute comedy routine. Dry? Sure. Guaranteed success? No way! Worth the effort? Jamie Masada and an "A" List of comedy names seem to think so.

From one old beat cop to another...if I can help just ONE kid see a future for him or her self outside of a gang or a prison wall...I reckon that's worth a few Saturdays. Thanks, buddy! And I WILL think about what you said...as always.

Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (May 27, 2006 04:56PM)
Best of luck to you, and anythig I can do to help out let me know. If schedules allow I would love to contribute any way possible.