While a student at Minnesota State University, fascinated with the fundamental logic behind humor, Stevie Ray designed his own degree to study comedy. As co-founder and executive director of Stevie Ray’s Improv Company, he shares theories and techniques for creating laughter through a class devoted to developing stand-up comedy skills.
“The person who makes a group of people laugh is seen as the most powerful in the room,” Ray says about how lessons gleaned from a stand-up class can reap practical benefits. The skills honed in the class, according to Ray, can also be applied to other social occasions as stand-up trains people to communicate concisely. Pragmatic reasons aside, the class is open to anyone who wants to kick off the new year with a little joy.
The class, ranging from eight to 12 students, is taught by Joe Harstad, assistant artistic director and master instructor of the company. Its scope extends beyond the professional demands of comedy with an additional focus on its daily applications. Participants explore the internal mechanism of humor and draw inspirations from amusing moments in their own lives to create material for presentation in the class, which, as Ray describes, is a “safe environment where everybody is very supportive.”
The eventual product is a three-minute act. There will also be a celebratory recital with the attendance of families and friends. “People say this is the most exciting thing they have ever done in their lives,” Ray says.
Class members have varied from the young to the old, the outgoing to the shy. Some want to pursue a related career adventure, while others are looking for some fun. Classes are $150/a four-week course; Thursdays, Jan. 4–25