The second session of the stand-up course was a lot more hands-on, which is how I think it will be from now on. We did a word association game which, shamefully, I got knocked out of very early. We also did a random word generator exercise where we had to pick a word out of a hat and then talk about it for a minute. My word was ‘low’ which was very difficult but I managed to fill the time. I don’t think it was very funny though. It was mostly about depression and David Bowie.

The final exercise was looking at a double page spread from a local newspaper and spotting the things that made us laugh. I had part of the travel section, which again was pretty difficult but was surprised that there were 4 or 5 things which really amused me, because of the associations I made with them. There must be something intrinsically funny about cruises…

All of these tasks were tools to get us coming up with ideas and thinking about what we could write about. I haven’t really had the time to put any of this into practice yet though, and I wonder whether I ever will during the course. I have lots of stuff I want to work on though, and hone, so I don’t think coming up with five minutes of stuff will be a problem. Whether it’s funny is a different matter entirely, though.

James Cook, the course tutor, asked for volunteers to perform their material in front of the group. I didn’t feel I could do it this week, and I’m not sure whether I will next week – I need to feel more prepared than I do now. But I also need to get over that fear of standing in front of people and talking, and doing it sooner rather than later will probably be to my benefit. I think it depends on how I get on with working out some more material over the weekend. I’ve had a few ideas that I’ve been jotting down this week, one routine will last for a little while and was inspired by listening to a Stephen Malkmus song.

This week I’ve been doing field research too, seeing Mark Thomas at the MAC and last night went to Popcorn Comedy where I saw John-Luke Roberts (his non-specific audience insults were fantastic) and Graham Goring (I loved the way he skewered his own nerdish qualities). All very different acts but all enjoyable, and I came away thinking about different bits of their techniques. I think I’m still figuring out what kind of style I want to go for – I’m naturally drawn towards the literate, slightly oddball and aloof style that John-Luke Roberts has, as well as several of my other favourite comics, so that seems a natural way to go. But I think it requires a certain level of skill and experience to pull that off, plus also the time to really work at your jokes. Time isn’t a luxury I have much of right now, so I better get working at it very soon.

I have some material about pirates, tea, internet dating, a couple of laboured puns and a joke which I’m a little unsure as to how it’ll be received (it involves amputees, although it is certainly not a joke at their expense). Is this a sensitive topic? I don’t know. Maybe it’s the evil part of my brain at work. I might try it out on someone or even on the group next week…