Comedy Communications Workshop Entertains, Educates

Pardee RAND student and alum participate in comedy workshop, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND

David DeSmet and Michael Gaines try their comedy chops on stage at the Career Services Comedy Workshop

Event photos by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

April 24, 2023

Nicole Blaine, owner of The Crow comedy club and a comedy educator, says the best way to reach and truly connect with an audience is to make them feel: "Using the art of storytelling is a superpower when it comes to really engaging with a crowd. Humor helps to enhance the effectiveness of your public speech, presentation, debate, and office party prowess."

Blaine shared her superpower with more than 30 Pardee RAND students, alumni, and faculty on April 17 at a comedy workshop and mixer. Titled "Using Comedy for Creative Communication: Stand-Up 101 for the Professional," Blaine broke down the rules of comedy and explained how joke structure is crafted and presented to help amplify one's point of view.

A few brave students and alumni—Gursel Aliyev (cohort '13), David DeSmet ('19), Mike Gaines ('17), and Claire O'Hanlon ('13)— took the stage for "pitch duos," in which they had to improvise and develop a sales pitch for a surprise (and unlikely) product.

O'Hanlon noted, "One of the things that was surprising to me was how the comedians thought about joke writing in such a technical way – that there are a few formulas and formats that you can rely on that get you 75% of the way there."

To conclude the evening, Blaine brought to the stage two Los Angeles comedy writers—Troy Walker, Emmy-award winner for late night TV writing on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Dana Eagle, who works for Comedy Central and NBC’s Last Comic Standing—who entertained the crowd with their stand-up routines. They also stuck around after their shticks to talk with the attendees.

O'Hanlon asked the comedians what they do when they are bombing—when the crowd hates them or doesn’t get the jokes. "They said that many people’s instinct is to speed up, but that only makes things worse and it’s better to slow down," she said. "I’ll try it next time a presentation isn’t going well."

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career services, event, claire o'hanlon, gursel aliyev
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