A New Challenge

A New Challenge


Sometimes opportunities present themselves when we’re not looking. That’s how I got into teaching comedy. I had been performing on cruise ships for years and wasn’t home much. That gets old after a while. The travel sucked and I always felt like I was removing myself from anything that could move my career in a new direction.

When I stopped doing them, I was home more, I was writing more, doing short videos and enjoying the business again. I also was showing up more regularly at my gym.

I knew Mike Bosco from seeing him at the gym we both go to. He seemed kind of quiet and I just figured he was concentrating on his intense workouts. He wasn’t somebody I would have expected to have an interest in doing comedy.

Most of our conversations had usually been,



“What’s up?”

They got a bit longer when I started showing up more often because I was in town more.

Still, I was surprised when he approached me one day and asked if I would listen to a voiceover demo tape he had recorded. I listened to it and it was pretty good. I helped as much as I could but I don’t have a lot of connections in that field.

After that, he started showing up with comedy material. He was interested in going to open mikes and trying his hand at stand-up. At the same time, my nephew Jake approached me about a friend of his who was interested in getting into comedy and wanted to know if I would talk with him and help him out.

I honestly had never thought about teaching before, but this seemed like a challenge worth taking. I knew the owner of the “Parkway Theater” in my hometown of McKees Rocks. The place where I went to movies growing up. We set up a schedule for Wednesday nights and I started to promote.

Having never done it before, I decided to approach my old friends Bill Gorgo and Dobie Maxwell. Both are fellow veteran comedians and had been teaching comedy classes together and separately for twenty years.

They were both extremely helpful in how to go about doing these types of classes and I can’t thank them enough.

Still, I had to put my own agenda together. I would start with the most basic things you need to know starting out and take the students step by step along the way. The goal is to put together a solid five minute set to do at a graduation show after the final class.

Going in, the first night, I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew I would be learning how to teach, while I was teaching. I was just hoping I could pull it off.

The first thing I tell every class is,

“I can’t teach you to be funny.”

Most of them have some sense of funny. That’s why they take the class. Of all the students I’ve had, there’s only one student that had absolutely no sense of how to at least try to write a joke.

Sometimes when they come in, the material is so bad, but you see something. Adam Niedig is a perfect example of that. He had been on stage for the first time only a few days before the first time in my class.

He starts into some bit about dolphin rape that made no sense and wasn’t funny. Still, he was a character and I could see him doing well once he got his act together. He’s since been in every class I’ve taught and has made huge strides in learning how to write for his persona.

He’s funny and creative and helps other people with their writing. That’s one of the things we do in class, help each other.

When you can see where another person needs a line or a change, it helps you with your own act.

For me, the teaching came naturally once I started working with the students. Most of them make the same mistakes…It takes too long to get to the punch line or the punch line is in the wrong place.

If you have to explain the joke, the part where you’re explaining should have come before the punch line.

Another thing is, people come into class and think some filthy story is funny. Yeah…probably not.

The problem is, a lot of the open mike acts in this town, just show up to get drunk and high and see who can be the most shocking or disgusting. You’re just wasting your time and ruining the mindset of the audience for the people that are trying.

My First Class After Graduation


What I see in the people who take my class, is they seem more advanced than the others. That’s because we eliminate all of the early mistakes these other people don’t realize they’re making.

One of the main goals I had was to make the class fun. Comedy shouldn’t be a chore. The classes have been fun and I’ve made a lot of new friends and so have my students. It’s been a rewarding experience and I thank you guys for the new challenge.

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