Chip Chantry has one of the most impressive resumes of any Philadelphia comedian. He tours the country as a feature act, has been a finalist in Helium Comedy Club’s Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest every year, and won last year’s Best Stand-Up Comedian at our very own Witout Awards for Philadelphia Comedy. Now he, along with Mary Radzinski, plans to share some of their knowledge about the art of stand-up comedy by teaching a class at Philly Improv Theater. We asked Chip some questions about his class, and what he plans to share with his students.
WITOUT: It may be a little known fact that your comedy career got started with help from a comedy class, do you hope to create some future Chip Chantrys with your class (and what, in your own opinion, would that mean)?
CHIP CHANTRY: Yes, it did. And it may be a little known fact that your full name is Aaron Gregory Jamiroquai Hertzog. But no. The world does not need any more Chip Chantrys- insecure, yet totally lovable and sexy comedians.
WO: There are some that say “funny can’t be taught”. Do you agree with this statement? If so, what are you going to teach in your class?
CC: Absolutely. Being funny (on purpose) is something that I feel you either have or you don’t. I’m just trying to help people hone the craft of stand up comedy. But I can’t MAKE someone funny. I can just give them some tools and encouragement. And people generally get out of a class what they put into it. Some aspire to be famous comedians and writers. Others might take the class for fun, or to conquer a fear of public speaking. To put it in terms that you would relate to, Aaron, it’s like teaching the craft of crocheting, or pottery. I’m never going to be great at those things, because I have the fine motor skills of a frightened goat. But I can learn some of the ins and outs and have some fun with it.
WO: How do you think your experience as an elementary school teacher will help you with teaching fresh-faced, hopeful, stand-up comedians?
CC: The classroom has given me some patience. It’s also taught me to break more complicated concepts down into simpler terms, and convey them in a more basic way at first, and then build up to the complicated mess of stand up comedy.
WO: Say some nice things about your co-teacher, Mary Radzinski? How do you plan on splitting up your teaching duties? Good cop/bad copy style, perhaps? Which one of you is which?
CC: Mary is one of my favorite comedy writers in this here town. Her joke crafting (as seen onstage and on the twitters) have a word economy and voice that are top-notch. Her tweets are like jazz. But, like, not the shitty kind of jazz that everyone’s mom has programmed on station #5 in her 2006 Hyundai Sonata. But we are splitting it down the middle. We are each trying to be good cops. I was thinking more Good Cop/Hot Cop, because I just bought myself a new pair of break-away pants.
WO: What have you learned in your years as a stand-up that you hope to share with your students? Are there some things you think it would be better for them to learn on their own through experience?
CC: I think I’ve learned just as much what NOT to do, than what to do. So hopefully I can help people avoid pitfalls, and take the right steps on their path… to GREATNESS. But, you also have to fail sometimes to learn, so some lessons can’t be taught by me. They’ll have to learn them on their own.
WO: Can you give some free stand-up advice here as a teaser for those on the fence about taking your class?
CC: Yes. BABY STEPS. I still tell myself this to this day. Write five minutes of new material. Try it out at an open mic. If everything bombs, except for ONE joke, you have succeeded. Do the same thing the next week. If everything bombs except for ONE joke? Great! Now you have TWO jokes. BABY STEPS.
I’m full of this crap, Aaron.
Stand-Up 101 at Philly Improv Theater begins this Saturday, October 6th from noon until 3pm and will run each week until October 27th.