You don’t have to be a “laugh-out-loud” funny person to do comedy, says Christine Olivas, the director of sales and marketing at software company Promptworks. You just have to be willing to give it a shot.
“Comedy has changed my life for the better,” Olivas told Technical.ly. “I’d never been told in the past I was funny, but I’d been told I always had good stories. My first instructor really believed that if people have good stories, anyone can create.”
And starting this fall, Philadelphians and comics from around the country will be able to do so through Olivas’ passion project — the Off Mic Comedy School, Philly’s first all-virtual set of comedy classes, which launched Wednesday.
Like most things in quarantine, standup looks different right now. But that shouldn’t mean folks working to be comedians should have to put their practice on pause, Olivas said. Plus, cities such as Philadelphia and New York have comedy scenes where it’s easier to track down classes or open mics, but that shouldn’t stop folks from suburban or rural areas from being able to hone their craft.
Olivas got into comedy a little over a year ago, and at the beginning of the pandemic began Fools for Good, a virtual showcase of local comedy that fundraises for Philly organizations that need some financial help. Between her network of consulting clients and comedy friends, she realized there was space for a comedy school to operate virtually while folks were stuck at home.
The launch of the school, which offers classes on different topics and for different experience levels, was heartily supported by her Promptworks coworkers, who are big proponents of following outside passions, she said. (Operations and Community Engagement Coordinator Nicole Phoenix is also a standup comedian.)
In all the comedy classes the founder has taken, she said the best part has always been the instructors. But often, after spending time and money to teach the class, those instructors aren’t left with much profit. Olivas is hoping that the virtual environment will allow them to save some costs and bring comedy classes to people and places that wouldn’t normally have access.
The school’s six courses were designed and will be instructed by local, experienced comics and range from “Standup 101” to “Crowd Work” to “Producing and Promoting Workshop.”
“We’ve all taken other classes and are confident that we’ve come up with a better way to learn comedy,” Olivas said. “With legit, talented comics leading the classes, a focus on actionable curriculum, and regular performance opportunities, students will have their best shot at comedy success.”
Class registration officially opened Wednesday, and classes will take between eight and 12 students. They range in price from $155 to $305 depending on the skill level and length of classes. Sessions will begin in October and wrap up in December.