Making Dreams Come True for Comics and Speakers since 1984
  Judy Carter's Comedy Workshops  

Turning Your Life Story Into a One-Person Show

Five minutes into watching most one-person shows, most people in the audience have the same thought: "I should do my own one-person show."

Last week I got a call from a well-known, charismatic evangelist who had seen Bil
Billy Crystal 700 Sundaysly Crystal's show, "700 Sundays."  He wanted my help for a few months in putting together his own show.  Naturally, he assumed it would be easy - because Crystal made it LOOK easy.  But, it turned out to be a huge wake up call for him once we started really discussing the details.  He realized just how much work would need to go into a show that would look as if he were, "just telling his story."

In last week's 90-minute teleseminar (available online here) on "Turning the Stories of Your Life into a One-Person Show" -- I had three terrific guests:  Mark Travis, Racquel Lehrman and Tom Dreesen.  They gave the listeners a reality check on what it takes to write, produce and perform a show based on your life story - and some great tips on how to raise cash to mount a production.

Still, even with great advice (and a great coach) -- don't be fooled into thinking the process is going to be easy.  Pros such as Billy Crystal, Chris Rock, and Will Ferrell create an illusion that their life stories are just told as casually as if they were entertaining people at a dinner party.  But what most civilians never get to see is the enormous about of work that goes into finding the underlying theme of a show, picking the right stories, finding the funny AND the drama, and creating a compelling journey that audiences will actually pay to see.

In our teleseminar, Mark Travis and I mostly talked about the creative process of selecting the stories that make up a show.  To get started, he advises, "Start writing stories - any story. After you have written a lot of stories, there will be a theme that becomes apparent."

Interestingly, that's true whether you're writing what you had for breakfast this morning, or about your mother's death.  There's almost a DNA of the meaning of your life's journey that somehow will just show up in all your stories.  Mark and I talked about how often that theme is invisible to the person writing the story, since they have so much involvement with the details of each story that they tend to miss the bigger picture.

As a creative coach, often my job is to be a story "CSI" person for my client.  Meaning, I'm looking for evidence leading to the broader theme of their show (or act) in their stories and bits.

Some people call that a "brand" or a "persona" -- but, whatever you choose to call it, it's always the small pieces that reveal the larger picture.  When "CSI-ing" someone's stories, it's comforting to see that our life journeys have meaning, and it's amazing that the meaning of everything we do, and have done -- is so often invisible to us.



Tony Brent said...

Great teleseminar Judy! As a comic magician it also makes me want to see and learn more about your one-person show that had magic.

Older, but not done yet said...

I would love to get this teleseminar, will it be available for a little while? I don't have the extra budget for a couple of months, but hope to soon. Thanks much!