Finding Funny with McCurdy and Sons

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Since 1988, the modest black stage, blinding neon lights and raucous, unbridled voices of McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre have inspired swells of Sarasota laughter. But when Les McCurdy realized a pattern of unpolished performers on his own stage, a new style of education emerged. McCurdy and fellow comedian Ken Sons have now made that McCurdy stage and spotlight attainable for all.

McCurdy and Sons present—Comedy Boot Camp.

For twelve hours over three days, plus a performance night, 10–20 students learn the ABCs of stand-up: everything from properly holding a microphone to exploring the bounds of comedy, practicing improvisational skills and giving and receiving constructive feedback. And in a comedic arena where McCurdy warns “you’re judged moment-to-moment” by every eye, ear and funny bone in the room, Boot Camp intends to boost confidence, generate personalized material and divulge the holistic art of stand-up comedy.

“It’s about finding funny,” says McCurdy, sipping coffee before his May graduates step up to the infamous McCurdy stage. Working with the McCurdy’s Boot Camp Workbook, students tackle writing exercises and create original content. One strategy that never fails to brew creative juices and win over an audience: self-deprecating humor. “I’m gonna tease my southern accent, my age, that I’m bald,” McCurdy explains. Only by realizing and taking advantage of one’s own humorous attributes, can a comedian see, understand and reflect the humor in other things. After two weekends, each student will have written a deliverable set and learned what works and what doesn’t—the results of feedback, workshop, feedback, workshop, feedback, workshop. Think borderline Comedy Central Roast Channel. “It’s criticism,” one graduate jokes with another, “don’t lie.”

Comedy virgins, second-time campers, restless retirees and the comically curious—Boot Camp welcomes the lot. While an estimated 60% of students includes aspiring comedians who aim to perform on some professional level, the remaining 40% largely consists of bucket-listers and recipients of McCurdy’s gift certificates. Or for professional play, doctors and lawyers often enroll to revive bedside manner or spice up courtroom charm. As Bill Richardson, an attorney and graduate of the May 2019 Boot Camp, explains, “I got really tired of being serious all the time.”

The next Comedy Boot Camp session will be held July 14–21 with a performance on July 24. Register online at the website below.

McCurdy's Comedy Theatre Comedy Boot Camp

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