Laughter Construction: Colton Jones Leads Weekly Comedy Workshops
A workshop to help standup comedians had its first meeting this past Wednesday at the Bearded Monk. The workshop structured and designed by Comedian Colton Jones is meant to help local comedians come together to build, offer, and find an academic approach to comedy.
“When anybody starts doing stand-up they suck for the first month and they feel awful for a while,” said Jones.
Jones attended Texas Woman's University for acting and notes that a lot of the exercises and theory for the workshop will pull from a book he read titled “Improvisation for the Theater” by Viola Spolin. The book, and what the workshop will be about, is communicating directly to an audience.
“I wanted to bring that approach to standup,” said Jones. He wants comics to think not so much about what their character of persona looks like, or is thinking, but instead what the character wants to communicate and achieve that goal.
Jones, who has only been doing comedy for a year and some change, wants everyone to know he is not trying to teach anyone anything but just wants to share what has helped him.
“There’s not really an academic approach to stand-up which is frustrating,” said Jones, “if anything that’s the goal, to create an academic framework to approach stand-up from.”
Other comedians such as Joe Coffee and Taylor Higginbotham have talked about Spolin's book with him and bounced ideas off of each other for this workshop. People at the workshops are able to have open conversations about books they have read, sources they know, and experiences they had to formulate this approach together.
“Denton’s comedy scene is in a place right now where it could really explode if it was given the right stimulus,” said Jones, “I don’t think this workshop is that stimulus, but I do think there is a lot of talent collecting around a certain amount of shows.” Shows like E Third have received positive response and Jones wants this workshop to help foster some of the talent around town.
The first workshop had an attendance of a little under ten people and they did some exercises, talked about theory and the point of the workshop. Jones pulled straight from the book and had them practice gibberish exercises. He had them do this to show there is an instinctual level of communication that exists, so even if they can’t understand what is being said they may understand the emotion and inflection behind it. The workshop also allows comics to share content they have been working on and get live feedback that allows the other comics to share notes and what they might do.
The next session's focus will be on direct communication and getting an audience on your side. Comedians have a persona and they will do exercises and talk about how this persona formulates with an audience.
“The relationship is where the funny exists," Jones said.
Standup is about the reaction of the audience, but the first workshop was garnering reaction from comedians - and that says something in itself. Jones says when he first started he didn’t even tell jokes but would just take off his clothes, perform songs, and once ate a cigarette on stage. He says the only thing he could focus on was getting a reaction, but hopes this workshop helps him and others learn to apply the thought of reaction and performance to writing and the format of comedy.
Jones is aiming to hold these workshops every Wednesday at 5 PM at the Bearded Monk. He was satisfied with the first one and the future of this workshop seems not only promising but valuable for the local comedy scene.
“It made me real excited to come back next week and keep going,” said Jones.
Header photo by Brian Doore
Header image design by Brittany Keeton