I learned the importance of not only having a strong stage presence, but in constructing a character that audiences would enjoy.
Teaching comedy classes has become one of the true passions of my entire life. I’ve been doing it since 1993, coincidentally the same year I had a nearly fatal car wreck and couldn’t work for over six months. I was down and out and to the point of getting deliveries of food from the shelter where a friend of mine worked. I was at my lowest point, and that says a lot. I’ve been pretty low many times but that time was absolutely by far the worst.
One day I received a call from a local college asking if I’d be interested in teaching a class in standup comedy. I said, “You can’t teach anyone to be funny. A person has it or they don’t.” The person on the other end of the phone said, “Well, we’d be willing to pay you to come and teach a class.” I said, “How about next Tuesday at 7:00?”
And that was it.
Since that first session of classes, I’ve poured my heart and soul into teaching and I must say I totally love it on many levels. It’s a chance to give back and also help people live their big dream of being in show business or at least getting to see the inner workings of it. I’ve studied comedy myself since that time so I can become not only a better teacher, but a better comedian myself. I work harder than my students and I never ever ask them to do anything I haven’t or wouldn’t do myself. It’s been a wonderful experience and I intend to not only continue, but to expand the classes not only to other venues but to bring a version of it online as well. Thanks to technology I can now reach people I never could before.
I had taken comedy classes before, but none of them offered what Dobie Maxwell had developed. His method of joke writing is easy to understand and systematic in creating new ideas.
I’ve been the exclusive comedy teacher for Zanies Comedy Clubs in Chicago since 1995 and I’ve also taught many one day sessions from Marquette University in Milwaukee to Miami, FL to Los Angeles, CA as part of the prestigious Round Table annual conventions hosted by Gene Perret who was Bob Hope’s head writer for many years.
I’ve found one thing to be absolutely consistent in all my time of teaching and that is I was totally right when I said I can’t make anyone funny. I can’t. NOBODY can. What I can do is help someone who has the spark to learn how to develop it in the correct way. I can save years of aimless wandering by giving each student a personal plan of attack and that’s what I strive to do with everyone who takes my class or works with me one on one. Comedy is great fun but it’s also very difficult and requires HARD WORK and maximum effort to be successful. I’ve developed my classes through many years of my own hard work and I continue to grow and improve with each session I teach. I am currently hard at work on my own version of teaching called, ‘The Maxwell Method of Standup Comedy’. Since I’ve started teaching it seems everyone and their uncle’s bowling league captain have started their own ‘class’ trying to bilk money out of unsuspecting novices. I can’t stand the thought of that but unfortunately the only defense I have is to keep making my own class better so the discriminating student will immediately be able to tell the difference. And they all can.
As someone who performed standup professionally some years ago and decided to make a fresh-start comeback, I found Dobie’s classes invaluable. I wish I had known then what I know now — thanks to Dobie.
Does everyone who takes my class like me personally? Unfortunately NO. Every once in a great while I’ve had a few rare people who quite frankly clashed with me in a major way. It’s something I work hard to avoid but it does happen. The main reason it happens is that I never back down from telling the truth of how it really is out in the real world. Comedy is VERY difficult and to do it right there are no shortcuts. Some people don’t want to hear that but unfortunately it’s never going to change.
I don’t deceive my students and in fact that’s one of the things most of them say years later. I hear things like, “When I took your class I thought you were a total idiot. Now, all these years later, you were the ONLY one who told it to me like it really is. ‘Thank you.'” I love it when I hear that and I hear it often – WAY more often than I’ve had clashes with people who think I’m just a ranting lunatic.
I am a working actor and Dobie’s class showed me how comedy works and that has translated to better auditions and more work. As a teacher he is in a class by himself.
That’s why I created ‘The Maxwell Method’. I’m putting my money where my mouth is and I wouldn’t put my name next to it if I didn’t believe in it 1000%. This is a culmination of all my years of trial and error and study and if you are looking to improve your comedic skills on several levels I know this can help you do it. I’m a student of the game myself and I am never satisfied. I always want to improve. And I do. Like I tell my students, I’m NOT a perfectionist. I’m an IMPROVEMENTIST. Steady constant improvement is what I strive for and exactly what I expect from my students too. It may not be easy but I can sure guarantee positive results. I’ve seen it happen over and over again both in my students and myself.
Another bonus to Dobie’s comedy training is all the contacts that you make in the comedy world. I still see performers today that I met at one of Dobie’s classes.
Check back often as I intend to devote an entire website to my online teaching but I will be posting a free version of it here and also update the Zanies class schedules when I know what they are. Right now Zanies management and I are trying to work out the best way to serve the most people and with my own busy schedule that’s not always easy. Currently a beginner session is being taught by Bill Gorgo who is a fantastic teacher and a talented comedian in his own right. We also are looking at comedy writing only sessions and also one or more intermediate and advanced classes this summer before launching a full fall schedule of classes at all the Zanies clubs in the Chicago area.
I’m also up for teaching in other cities and towns and other venues besides comedy clubs too.
I have done half and full day sessions for car dealer sales staffs, hospital staffs, office team building sessions and all kinds of other things. I’ll be glad to custom tailor something to your personal needs if you let me know what they are. Like I said, I do this because it’s become a passion for me. I absolutely LOVE it and I love to be around comedy any way I can. My enthusiasm will rub off on the students. It always does. I hope you can attend so I can prove it to you personally.
Dobie offered me encouragement without lacing it with false hope. As a result of following his advice, I am now earning money professionally as a comedy writer. Plus, he is just a great guy and good to have in my corner.
Be sure and get on the mailing list so you can be updated as to when classes will be and also when the online version is available. I’m working on the content now and hope to have it up and running full steam soon. I promise, you will get WAY more than you pay for and I will also offer much needed things like a crash course in how to be a good emcee and a chance to review the tape of working comics to help get more paying gigs that pay higher than the ones you’re getting now. I’ve been in the position of those people and there are very important things a comic must do to stand out from the crowd. I’ll put those secrets in my course and it will be worth your while when it comes out. That’s my personal promise.
Stay tuned and stay close as it won’t be long now. I hope to be able to work with you soon on chasing your comedy dreams. That’s what life is all about!