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Where Do I Start?

June 7, 2010 | 2 Comments

Hello Mr. Keillor.
I'm a 60-year old woman who has helped raise 7 children, worked at a computer for nearly 30 years and I now have decided to quit a good-paying job to follow my dream.
I am a singer of old standards, country, and gospel and I've created a couple of southern characters whom I've portrayed at churches, for women's groups, nursing homes, schools, birthday parties and also with a local live radio program. My question is, where do I begin to write my own "original" material?

Joyfully yours,
Cheryl R.
Terre Haute, Indiana


First of all, Cheryl, you have the advantage of trying something so improbable that nobody expects you to succeed, so you've got that dog off your trail. You can go sing and work up your material and amuse yourself and not worry about your career trajectory, since you don't really have one. As for material, you'd best begin with yourself, and thanks to those seven children, you have a wealth of it. Parenthood is life's great drama, and a natural comedy, since there is no such thing as success. So sit down at your computer and lavish your experience into story form. Print it out, edit it severely, and try it out on a friendly audience. When you say "southern characters," I'm sure you don't mean stereotypical redneck — I'm guessing you mean characters who are outspoken, shrewd, and emotionally open. When you write your material, work especially hard on the first few minutes of your show, which is crucial. And good luck to you.


See GK There are folks waiting in the wings!

GK is right, there are a couple of things I learned being a road comic. ALWAYS play it to the cheap seats, and try not to be to wordy. Rodney Dangerfield said it, "Everytime you tell a joke take one word of it out until it you get to the point that if you take one more word out of the joke it will no longer make any sense."
Remember too, the worst sound when you are trying to make people laugh is no sound at all, even if they are booing that means they are listening.

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