by wjw on March 16, 2018

So in last night’s dream I enrolled in a workshop in standup comedy.  Which, I should mention, I have never had any ambitions whatsoever to do.

The workshop took place in a barnlike hotel in a place like the Berkshires, with snow and winter sports, and the woman who ran the place kept telling us that we had to look deep into ourselves to find our material, and I tried this but without much success.  It appears I have looked as deeply into myself as I care to, and the rest can remain a mystery as far as I’m concerned.

So I created a character called Mr. Pilcock.  Mr. Pilcock was an energetic working-class Englishman with a job in a boiler factory (which allowed me to do an amusing accent), and his wife had won a lot of money in the pools, and so he decided to go to America to visit his daughter and her husband in Cleveland.  (Cleveland is a funnier name for a town than Detroit.)  And so he decided to travel out on RMS Titanic.

So I developed a monolog in which Pilcock described Titanic being annihilated by an iceberg, and how he’d survived without losing any of his optimism and British pluck, and how if the chaps on the rescue ship would just loan him one of them diving suits, he’d go down and fetch Mrs. Pilcock from where he’d left her, in a cupboard on the berth deck.

And then I thought, “Well, why confine this guy to one disaster?”  So I backtracked to Pilcock’s exploits in the Zulu War.  (“Cocky, my boy, that there’s the Zulu army!  You’d better keep an eye out!”)  Which makes him a sort of working-class Flashman, if you like.

I woke up before I got to deliver Mr. Pilcock to the rest of the class, which is probably lucky, because the routine needed some work before I could get exactly the right mixture of humor and pathos I was aiming for.

If this is the sort of thing that goes on in my dreams, it’s a shame I don’t remember more of them.

I am, by the way, in Florida, at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, where dozens of my friends have shown up for the express purpose of keeping me amused.  So I am having a good time, and probably won’t have to debut as a standup any time soon.

pecooper March 16, 2018 at 2:16 pm

In the standup comedy workshop I took, they told us to open with something that described us. Mine was, “I’m a middle-western, middle-class, middle-aged white guy. That’s me: wonder bread on the hoof.”

My career as a comic was not a success. My wife, Carolyn Cooper, did much better. In fact, you helped her find a place to stay when she played in Albuquerque.

Jerry March 22, 2018 at 8:18 pm

In the Standup course that I took back in Scottsdale, the instructor pointed out that it is our job to create a world to share with the audience. “In a play or movie, for example, even before the very first word is spoken, the audience has some idea of where they are. The set will let them know they are in ancient Greece, or in a courtroom, or a spaceship, or a skid-row flop house. On the other hand, when YOU walk out on stage, there is nothing like that. YOU have to create the persona and you have to bring them into your world and you have to let them in on the joke.”

His theory of comedy sounds like just what you do all the time, Mr. Williams, when you look at your blank screen and start to write. There’s nothing, and then you suddenly create it all.

As a fan, thank you for letting me in on your world(s)! No joke.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post:

Contact Us | Terms of User | Trademarks | Privacy Statement

Copyright © 2010 WJW. All Rights Reserved.