Alex Riley takes two young rookies into the workplace. Brandon and Greta discover if they have what it takes to be stand-up comedians.
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There's something funny going on in today's episode.
And it's a good job there is because we're about to dive into
the crazy world of comedy.
Today's rookies think they've got the gift of the gag.
We'll take them on a comedy crusade,
meeting funny folk along the way, including a top comedian.
But will their audience be crying tears of laughter
or just crying?
Let's find out as we go
All Over The Workplace!
Our two rookies reckon they've got the talent to be funny for money.
But will they have us rolling in the aisles or heading for the exit?
Of course, they want people to laugh WITH them, not AT them.
My name is Greta, I'm ten.
When I grow up I would like to be a stand-up comedian.
When I imagine the future, I see me surrounded by smiles
and laughter and applause.
My name is Brandon, I'm 11 years old. I come from Guildford.
The ultimate dream for me is to be a successful stand-up comedian
and perform at massive places
all around the world and make people happy.
Brandon and Greta have polished their funny bones and headed
to central London to team up with Alex to generate a chuckle or two.
-Apparently you guys want to be comedians.
So what appeals to you about a career in comedy?
Laughter soothes the soul. It spreads positivity.
Greta, why do you want to be a comic?
I want to make people smile and laugh.
I just love the feeling of applause when you've done a good job.
It's a tough business. Do you think you've got what it takes
-to grind away until you're successful?
Well, that's what you think,
but this is what your parents think.
I think Greta has a very good sense of humour.
The thing that Greta struggles with the most is slowing down
to let the audience laugh.
I think that Brandon doesn't often write things down
when he thinks about them.
I think he'll be challenged by not necessarily having
the amount of material that he'd want to have
or that he thinks he's got.
Brandon, your mum says you struggle a bit with
-writing things down.
-I'm sure I've got those funny ideas in my head.
I just need to get them down so I can remember them.
Yeah, OK, maybe that's something we can work on.
And, Greta, your mum says you talk a bit too fast.
People can't always tell what you're saying.
-It runs in the family.
-Can you just say that again?
I didn't quite catch it! Just a bit slower.
-Oh, it runs in the family. I get it.
-OK, smashing. Well, let's get on with it. Come with me!
To ease our rookies into the world of comedy,
we've brought them to meet Johnny and Inel.
# My alarm wakes me up I'm ready to rise... #
You might recognise these guys from
their very own CBBC sketch show.
They've got a track record for getting giggles,
so they'll be able to give our rookies some cracking advice.
Just crossing hands there.
Can you tell us what your three top tips are for doing sketch comedy?
Well, one important tip is to have trust
in the people you're doing comedy with.
You've got to be able to trust your partners
and your colleagues so you can create that comedy.
Yeah, I think you have to trust yourselves as well.
Usually, it's the best stuff you can come up with. So trust yourself.
And the number one thing, got to be funny.
Yeah, don't forget that. Yeah, it's kind of a rule.
If anything, just stick to rule three.
Yeah, the rest are irrelevant, just that one.
Just be funny and everything else will sort itself out.
Johnny and Inel's top tips are...
Trust your comedy colleagues.
Especially important when working in a team.
If you find something funny, with any luck others will, too.
And be funny!
An obvious tip, but it's the golden rule of comedy.
So you guys are sketch comedians. Did you start off in drama?
Yeah, I did a bit of drama in school.
I used to love doing theatre productions and stuff like that.
Even just going to drama class and being able to experiment
and create characters.
Sometimes even just having fun with your mates -
just going round each other's houses and putting on funny voices
and doing little funny characters.
Time for the rookies to develop their own sketch characters.
A box of props can be a great way to develop comedy ideas.
So I might take this hat, for instance,
and this might make me think of a certain character.
I might be like, oh, this character walks a little bit like this
and talks little bit like, "Hello, sir, hello. How do you do?"
-Mr Top Hat!
Think about their characteristics, think about their physicality,
how they might hold themselves.
It could be a king, but how does he hold himself?
He could be quite old and quite feeble
and maybe something could come out of that.
Use your imagination and run wild.
Also, don't forget, we're not just here to play around with props,
we're here to create a sketch.
-Are you guys ready?
Those notes do not sound good together.
I don't care what my character is, it's wearing this tutu!
Brandon and Greta seem to be treating this like a toy box.
They should remember it's a prop box!
Everything that I can find in here that's pink, on my head.
How's it going, guys?
It seems like you're a bit overwhelmed with all these
different ideas and props.
My advice would be to just
select a few that you think will aid your character
and then just making it a really simple storyline.
Where would your characters be?
What settings are they in? A doctor's office or in a shop.
How are they going to interact with each other?
Once you start doing it, the ideas will come to you.
You'll feel the character and you'll act as the character.
Great advice from Inel.
When writing sketches,
don't get overwhelmed with too many props.
Narrow it down to just a few
and think about the setting you'll
be putting your characters in.
Brandon and Greta have decided to
set their sketch in a doctor's surgery.
This is a patient. She's had some tests
and you're going to tell her what's wrong with her, OK?
From that moment you'll be able to interact with each other.
So, like, every time you say that something's...
That something about me is fine, I could take that thing off,
but every time I take something off, you put something on.
But it's like you've absorbed my eccentricity.
It could work.
Yeah, you have to believe that you're the person
you're playing and you're portraying.
And when you do believe that, we believe it as well.
-Excuse the mess, I've been operating on a clown.
Let's take a look at your heart, then, shall we, dear?
I'm really not sure that's how you check somebody's heartbeat.
Shhh! Do you want to be alive?!
Yes, seems perfectly normal. You're safe, dear.
-I'll be taking that.
I'll have that, thank you. I'll have that.
I have another appointment, look.
I think I'm all right now! I think I'm all right now!
I think I'm all right now!
This assignment was really, really fun
because we had to use our imagination
to make other people laugh.
I really loved how we literally just got to dive into a prop box
and then see what we could make up.
We had a couple of rough sketch ideas
and they weren't too promising
but when we actually started doing it,
it was really quite nice to make them laugh.
I loved seeing the reactions of everybody and it was just awesome.
I loved it, I loved it so much.
Greta, I thought you were fantastic today.
You came in with bundles of energy and a lot of enthusiasm.
You could really see that
when you started applying yourself in the sketches.
When you had that energy, you focused it in
and you brought it down into what was needed for that sketch.
I thought you absolutely grew as the task went on, Brandon.
And really, really ended up with some really funny lines in there.
I think at first you were struggling to find a character
but as soon as you got that stethoscope, you were there.
Comedy has been around for a long time.
Ancient civilisations scripted some of the first humour,
putting on comedy plays and wearing rather interesting masks.
Some of the earliest comedy footage was slapstick,
made famous by the legend Charlie Chaplin -
seen here in a very early film.
This kind of visual comedy was important
back when films had no dialogue.
Chaplin was famous for his original style,
perfect timing and dodgy moustache.
Stand-up developed from music hall theatre performance
from around the same time.
These shows included all sorts of acts -
music, dancing, and lots and lots of comedy.
The essentials of comedy are the same today as they were back then -
you have to make people laugh.
A role he's been playing for 25 years.
Tim has studied under some of the clowning greats
and is an expert on the physical side of comedy.
His Jim Carrey-style funny face
is pretty good, too.
What are your three top tips for working in comedy?
Well, my first one is that you've got to enjoy yourself.
If you are not enjoying yourself, you're not working hard enough.
My second one would be to take your time, because timing is everything.
My third one is learn from the greats.
Watch everything you can, and steal all the jokes.
Tim's top tips are, enjoy yourself.
If you're not doing that, you ain't working hard enough.
Take your time, because timing...
everything in comedy.
Ignore it at your...peril.
And learn from the greats.
Watch everyone you can and learn from them.
So what's the hardest part of trying to make people laugh?
-When they don't.
What can you show us?
Now we're going to do some games and some exercises
and look at a few techniques behind some of the great gags,
from the great visual gags.
Give it there.
Tim is now leading a game of comedy statues
where timing and anticipation are on the agenda.
The rookies and Alex take turns to test each other's timing
and catch each other out.
I've not started yet!
Without Alex moving...
Tim demonstrates some other physical comedy routines,
like silly walks and the old stationary bag trick.
Yeah, nice. That was good.
This is an acting thing.
Oh, yeah, that's better, with your body.
You're going to push...
Alex is trying to be funny by putting on his normal face,
while Tim puts the rookies through some surprise routines.
Now Tim has the rookies imagining that
everything they touch delivers an electric charge.
Shocking, if you ask me!
My favourite part of the assignment was meeting Tim and him showing me
all his tricks and facial expressions.
It will really help me put character into my performances.
I thought it was all about backflips
and getting stuffed into suitcases,
but I found that it's a lot more simple
and I never thought I could do it.
Greta, all you have to do is stop,
give us a pause, give us some room to laugh.
Brandon, you weren't too confident physically first of all,
but when you did go for it, it was excellent, really good.
So remember, be confident.
Probably the most important thing you need to do
is write lots of jokes.
You'll get plenty of chances to try them out but it takes a while to
find out who you are as a performer.
What kind of performer are you?
Are you a crazy surreal performer
wearing lots of different clothes?
Are you a one-liner guy throwing out small jokes?
Are you a big, long storyteller, a big waffler like me?
Just going in front of an audience over and over again
and writing over and over again and trying things out,
and when they don't work, let it go.
Let it go, try another one.
Top multi-award-winning comedian, actor and writer Alan Davies
has been performing comedy since way back in 1988.
He's a well-known TV funnyman and a regular panellist
and presenter on loads of well-known comedy shows.
So he should be a marvellous mentor for our rookies.
Alan has taken Brandon and Greta to a top London comedy venue,
where famous stand-ups such as Michael McIntyre, Sarah Millican
and Rhod Gilbert have performed.
This is the stage. Come up here.
Come on, you're welcome to stand on it.
Nothing awful will happen.
-How does it feel?
-It feels amazing.
At the moment all the audience lights are on,
so you can see the chairs, but when you're up here
in a few years doing your act,
they'll be out and it's just darkness.
You can't see anyone except the front row.
This place is really the pinnacle of comedy clubs.
When you get booked here, then you know you've made it.
What would your three top tips be for being a comedian?
The most important thing is to face the front.
Face the audience, keep talking and say lots of funny things.
-They're the main three.
-The main three.
-The main three tips.
Remember that. Remember that, rookies.
I think it's also very important that you're happy on the stage,
that you're enjoying yourself.
Alan's top tips to succeed as a stand-up are...
Face the front.
Looking at your audience is key in stand-up.
Keep talking -
important for winning over your audience.
And say lots of funny things.
There's that golden rule of comedy yet again.
And his special bonus tip - enjoy yourself on stage.
When you come on, it's terrifying.
There's no getting away from it, it's awful.
When it goes wrong, and you go back through
the door into the dressing room, no-one will look at you,
It's quite a lonely thing. But when it goes well,
it really is about the best feeling you can have.
Then you really feel like you just want to do it again.
My number one tip for a comedian
is if you ever think of anything funny, see anything funny,
hear anything funny, remember anything funny,
you must write it down!
You must write it down immediately or you will forget it.
Because material is the hardest thing to come by.
And another bonus tip is
if you think of anything funny, write it down.
Otherwise you'll forget it.
Brandon, your mum was saying you might struggle with having to
write material down, but this is part of the job, isn't it?
You just make note of little things that remind you
of what it is you wanted to say.
Alan has dispatched the rookies to jot down some comedy ideas
which they can develop into their very own gags.
OK, Greta, let's see what we've got going on here.
You're staring off with bugs. Tell me about bugs.
-Are there bugs in the house?
-Lots of bugs in the house.
I sleep in a bunk bed and...
A bug bed?!
No, bunk bed!
-Bug bed's funnier.
-I see you've got spiders written down there.
-I do get a bit paranoid about spiders.
What's your fear about spiders?
That they might just crawl up to me
when I'm sleeping and lay eggs in my brain.
Lay eggs in your brain, that's your main fear about spiders.
One of the things you have to overcome
is a room full of strangers.
So why don't we go out into the outside world,
pick a couple of bits from your fledgling new acts
and we'll find a couple of people outside
and just go up and tell them your thoughts.
Tell your ideas and try, try and get a laugh out of them.
Even a smile! Even just a smile will be a win.
The rookies hit the streets with Alex and Alan
to test out their material on members of the public.
This is a chance for them to gauge the reactions of their audience
for the first time.
Professional comedians like to test out new material
to help them refine their gags.
He's gone to the side. He's willing him on.
He seems really happy with it.
-It's funny faces.
-He's laughing at the granny. He's doing the granny!
-He's laughing his head off!
-Walk away, get out of there. You got a laugh, leave!
Thanks, you've been great.
A reasonable reaction for Brandon.
I have two parrots at home
and they're giving me the feeling I live in quite a chaotic house
because one of my parrots only ever makes the fire alarm noise
Greta seems to be struggling to find her punchline.
If the dog licks me, she'll say, "Are you OK?"
Brave effort from the rookies. But what did the punters think?
I liked the action in it, you know?
Because people don't normally express themselves
in that way and it's refreshing.
-Yeah, very convincing.
-Yeah, good job.
I loved Alan's technique on coming up with new material.
It was so clever to just write down all the things that bother you
and turn them into something funny.
He's taught me so much and I'll try and learn from him.
I aspire to be like him one day.
He's just so funny.
Brandon, you are doing so well.
I've been so impressed by the way you've applied yourself.
You are obviously very witty, you've got an unusual mind.
You're quick to laugh, which makes you good company.
You've got all the attributes, I think, plus you came up with
lots of ideas quickly, you got your notebook organised.
Then to take it out onto the street, that was really brave.
Greta, Greta, Greta, slow down!
You talk really quickly!
I love all your energy
but you need to be a clearer with what you're saying because lots
of your ideas are so funny but we just need to hear them clearly.
A great top tip is to film yourself doing your set.
So you can watch it back and you can see if you're doing anything
that's not quite right for what you want to achieve with comedy.
What I like to do before I go on stage
is I like to make myself laugh.
I know it sounds completely bonkers but I like to stand
and go like this, "Ha-ha-ha-ha!"
before I go on stage because it actually makes us smile.
Walk on the stage with absolute confidence.
Give everyone a smile and a wave.
And enjoy yourself! Good luck!
Alan has set Brandon and Greta the task of performing
at their very own comedy gig.
This will be the most daunting assignment for the rookies so far.
Greta and Brandon have to put everything they've learnt
into practice if they're to impress their audience.
They've not long to polish their sets, so they need to focus
and remember everything that comedy guru Alan Davies has taught them.
So here we are in the comedy venue where you will be
performing your material.
-Do you like it?
I'm telling you, this is a nice one.
Normally you'd have to work your way up to this.
This isn't the scuzzy sort of dive you'll be in soon.
It's got a carpet!
Yeah. You have to remember that when you start out
it's not easy getting gigs.
Getting gigs is the hard part, being funny is the next hard part.
Getting another gig after that is the third hard part.
It's a constant battle, but we've laid this on for you
to give you a taste.
I've got some people coming in.
But we need to drum up some more audience members, OK?
If you go out on the street with these and hand out some flyers
and say there's a free comedy show happening down here
that's been made by some fool...
..then maybe we'll get a few more people in.
The more people who're in, the better.
So get out on the street and drum up some trade!
Free comedy show at three o'clock. This is Brandon.
The address is down there. Just in the Museum Of Comedy, just there.
-Would you like to come?
-We've got a free comedy show.
-Exclusive free show at the Museum of Comedy.
-This is Brandon.
-He's an up-and-coming new comic.
-The performance is at 3pm.
He's the smallest comic on the scene at the moment.
-Oh, he's already got one. He's going to be there.
It's nearly time for the rookies to stand up for themselves.
The punters are piling in.
It looks like they've drummed up some good trade.
I'm hyped-up. I'm ready, but I'm a bit nervous.
Yeah. OK, that's good. That's good to be nervous.
How are you feeling, Greta?
Very excited, but I'm quite nervous as well.
OK, that's normal. I'm quite nervous too, actually.
-Just smash it.
-I'll smash it!
I've got every confidence in you.
-I just want you to enjoy yourself, OK?
The venue's full and the audience are waiting in anticipation.
Some applause, please.
It's over to Alan to warm up the crowd and introduce the acts.
-What do you call a boomerang that won't come back?
AUDIENCE LAUGH AND GROAN
Our first comedian now and she's a young lady.
She's come all the way from behind me.
I want you to give a big warm welcome
and lots of cheering, please, for Greta.
How are we all?
I have two parrots and they've picked up some quite strange things.
One of our parrots will only imitate the smoke alarm.
When I went into the kitchen to make my breakfast this morning,
"Oh, I think I'll have a peanut butter sandwich."
"Beep, beep, beep, beep!"
Happens every time.
When my dad set off the smoke alarm for real, he said,
"Oh, the oven is rubbish and the smoke alarm is too sensitive."
But I think my parrot is onto something.
My other parrot says a few things
but the one thing that she says most is, "Are you OK?"
The other day I stubbed my toe, "Are you OK?"
I fell over the other day, "Are you OK?"
The dog licked me, "Are you OK?"
Dad's lovely, even if he does set off the smoke alarm
every other meal, and my mum taught my parrot
to be concerned about everything I do.
They're really lovely parents.
I think I am going to see them right now. Bye-bye, everyone!
Sounds like Greta's done a great job!
The audience loved her act.
How about that!
Now, ladies and gentlemen, you were brilliant for Greta -
please will you welcome Brandon!
Can Brandon handle the pressure of the live audience?
Right, so, first thing first, I am very paranoid.
I had a bit of a rough night last night,
I had a spider in the corner of my room.
You know when someone gives you that look where they're going to
crawl inside your ear and lay eggs in your brain?
AUDIENCE GROAN AND LAUGH
We can all relate to that, can't we?
To make matters worse, a cat dragged a hole in my foot - my cat.
The cat hates me. It's horrible.
So I limped downstairs to breakfast
and I see my grandma
and she's a vegetarian...
"Grandma, how about some breakfast?"
I'm handed some mushroom powder.
"This is not breakfast!" "Yes, it is."
"No, it isn't."
I pretend to eat it, put it in my pocket and I limp to school.
Now, the first people that greet me at school are two boys
called Albert and Frank.
Come on, give us a boo, it's Albert and Frank!
-They are so mean.
They tease me. Frank, he challenged me to a fight.
They both had me cornered.
Now, they are die-hard movie fans, sci-fi.
So I was expecting...
Pew! Pew! Pew! Pew!
Blast attack! 50 damage!
But, no. They sort of went in with their fists,
so I had to think fast.
I temporarily blinded Frank with the mushroom powder
and I made a run for it.
Well, I limped away, actually.
I may be a bit paranoid, but, you know, everything IS out to get me.
Even you people.
Yeah, I'm pretty paranoid right now, so I think I'm going to go.
You people are getting weirder and weirder by the minute.
The spider eggs are giving you all tentacles.
It's hard to look at, so I'm done. Thanks.
Fantastic reception for Brandon! That's got to feel good.
At the beginning of this experience
I was very worried about doing a gig.
I didn't necessarily want to do it.
All that's changed now.
I just want to keep doing gig after gig after gig.
It's so fun.
I love making people laugh.
I've performed, which is just basically...
It's just awesome.
I've used everything I've learnt and I've gone up there
and done what comedians do.
I think the hardest thing was slowing down and being quiet.
Greta, well done!
I was particularly pleased.
I could tell you had been really working at what you were doing.
You had listened to the advice and you'd slowed down.
It was really clear what you were saying and you created
a lovely picture of the house, the parrot, the kitchen, the chaos.
It's just exactly the way to go about it.
Keep going, well done.
Brandon, I'm very proud of you. That was really brave.
I don't know how you managed to get up there.
When I first met, you seemed like
you wanted to be a comedian but not actually go on stage.
Then you were talking to people on the street and now suddenly
you're effortlessly giving out your brand-new material
to a room full of cheering people.
I was so impressed. You didn't seem nervous at all.
This is very good facet to have to be a comedian.
Brandon and Greta have been on an amazing comedy journey.
They've talked tips with Johnny and Inel,
put together their very own sketch
and tried out physical comedy before taking their material
to the streets and showcasing their work in front of a live audience.
But now it's time to hear what the experts really think
of Brandon and Greta.
Brandon and Greta, we absolutely think you have what it takes
to work in comedy.
-You were absolutely hilarious.
-Two very funny people.
Well done, excellent work. Very good.
You've taken on everything I've taught you, I think, really well.
What I like most that you both did was that I really got a sense of
it was your own world that you were creating.
It was definitely Greta's life,
it was definitely Brandon's worldview.
That's a nice start. So if you keep going on that.
Remember, it's you, it's what you want to say.
It doesn't matter what it's about, it's your life, your jokes,
your style, your comedy.
If you keep going in that direction
I think both of you could be superstars!
The question is, after all that, do you still want to be comedians?
-Are you sure?
-Do you know what?
I'm not sure I'm not surprised.
Well, that was a barrel of laughs.
I mean, I've seen some funny things in my time
but those two take the biscuit.
Wasn't it fascinating to see the comedy world from the inside?
Well, thanks for watching and...
You wouldn't! You wouldn't, no!
You wouldn't! Agghh!
Oh, very funny! Very funny!
Ever fancied being a stand-up comic? Join Alex Riley as he steers rookies Brandon and Greta on an amazing journey, discovering if they have what it takes to 'stand up' and deliver. It's a high-pressure rollercoaster ride where they encounter CBBC's Johnny and Inel and collect comedy gold dust on the way to their very own stand up gig. Laughter legend Alan Davies takes them under his wing - advising, boosting confidence and preparing them for their big comedy moment. But the question is, will Brandon and Greta still want to be comics after they've been all over the workplace?