We spent the second week of summer making each other laugh at Funny Camp! Performing and teaching artist Gemma Soldati graced us with her hilarity, knowledge, and support. A trained clown, she inspired us with lessons of each style of comedy before trying it out ourselves.
On the first day we explored improv through various games and scenes. One of the games we played was called Questions Only. The game seems easy enough, but once you get onstage it’s a different story. You have to improvise a scene, but the stipulation is that you can only communicate by asking questions. As soon as you say something that isn’t a question, Gemma dings a bell and you get replaced by a new person who has to continue the scene.
Clown & Physical Comedy
On the second day we learned about clowning and physical comedy. Gemma explained the history of clowns and showed us some classic examples. Two of the videos she chose were from I Love Lucy and The Bell Boy. We donned red noses, learned bowler hat tricks, and did some silly group games to get into our clown personas.
Sketch Comedy & Character Development
For day three we delved into sketch comedy and character development. To introduce the these comedic devices we watched some clips including Celebrity Jeopardy from SNL. On this day we broke into groups to develop characters and write out short scenes. After the scenes were prepared, we traded the scenes each each other. Then, the groups had to act out and improvise the scenes. The scenes included a wedding on opposite day, a frat boy with an uncontrollable need to chest bump his ex frat brother, and Elmo and Kermit fighting on YouTube for views.
Stand Up Comedy
After much anticipation and excitement, we did stand up on day four! First we watched videos of performances by Eddie Bizzard and Maria Bamford, then we went off and wrote our own pieces of stand up comedy. From history reenactments to first job horror stories, we heard all the jokes from this group of comedians. It was hard to believe it was most, if not all, of these teens first times doing stand up due to their natural stage presence and ease at comedic timing!
Alternative Comedy & Comedy Open Mic
On day five we discussed alternative forms of comedy and put on a open mic for each other! Gemma showed us forms of comedy that we hadn’t discussed earlier in the week such as Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared and Reggie Watts. For the open mic we were able to perform whatever we wanted to. Most folks chose to do stand up, but there was also a followup to the Kermit and Elmo scene from the previous day, two musical numbers, and even the fulfillment of a dream of trying out ventriloquism.