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My 15 minutes as a Jay Leno

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I did, however, learn a lot about doing stand-up comedy – principally, that it is very, very hard. Also, that I’m not as funny as my mother always told me I was. I even experienced one of the most dreaded moments in live performance – I froze and forgot my lines.

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My journey to becoming the next Tina Fey began last fall when 11 of us – from teens to retirees – gathered in a basement theater on the Sunset Strip. We spilled our life stories as a way to begin building a five-minute comedy set that each of us would perform by course’s end.

Guided by Cary Odes, a 20-year veteran comic, we went around the room identifying ourselves: TV production assistant, elementary schoolteacher, bodybuilding instructor, journalist, waitress, actor, pregnant mom, city engineer. Next, courtesy of course creator Judy Carter – another successful comic – we zeroed in on personal rants, things that really bugged us.

Steve Ducey told of his problematic long-distance relationship with a girl who lives in Kansas. Daryll Mackey recounted tales of being a divorced dad who is trying to date again without half the income he gives in alimony to his former wife. As everyone related their life story, we could hear the moment that real emotion kicked in – the seed of comedy. “Did you all notice the second Daryll mentioned his former wife?” asked Mr. Odes. “His temperature rose and his voice changed. Daryll, there’s your starting point.

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