Character Creation Using Stand Up Comedy Principles

Hosted by John Mooney


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John Mooney

Webinar hosted by: John Mooney

stand-up comedian, writer and recurring actor on NBC's 30 ROCK

John Mooney is an accomplished multi-hyphenate with experience as an actor, comic, singer, and writer. As a comic, he’s appeared on Comedy Central and the AXS television network. As a writer, John is the co-writer and executive producer of a feature film starring Harry Lennix (NBC’s THE BLACKLIST), which is currently in pre-production. John has created content for Machinima and Comedy Concepts, and has appeared in commercials, web series, and video games, including GRAND THEFT AUTO V. He also recurred on 30 ROCK as Reverend Gary. His stage performances include the upcoming musical MAIDEN VOYAGE alongside Jenn Colella (Tony-nominated for COME FROM AWAY) and Hannah Corneau (WICKED). Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

If you write comedy you know what it feels like to stare at a blank page worrying that your signature lead character may not be funny enough to drive your story and dialogue. Your lead character is central to the success of any comedy and if your lead character bombs in your story then your movie or TV show most likely will follow. 

When you're trying to create your signature comedic lead for your scripted comedy, the principles of stand-up comedy will help you find what’s working. And if it's not working, the principals of stand up comedy can show you how to fix it. Stand-up is about finding a character’s voice, creating dialogue that stands out, and knowing how to get out of a scene quickly. You need to learn how to understand a scene’s “premise” and your character’s role in it and create multi-layered characters who are consistent while also getting the laugh.

In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar, actor and stand-up comic John Mooney will show you the way. You’ve seen John perform on Comedy Central, recurring on 30 ROCK, and appearing in the video game GRAND THEFT AUTO V. John most recently co-wrote and is currently executive producing a feature film starring THE BLACKLIST’s Harry Lennix and directed by THE SOPRANOS’ Federico Castelluccio.

Most importantly, you’re going to learn to let go of fears that hold back comedy writers and comedians, like “what will they think,” “Should I go to law school,” and “is this offensive?” By the end of this webinar, you’ll be prepared up to create a sustainable comedic lead character, letting go of the mental roadblocks, and confidently embracing your unique point of view and voice.

What You'll Learn

Using Stand Up Comedy Principles in the Writing Phase

  • Understanding the Premise
  • Finding Point of view
  • The importance of the set up
  • Crafting Word and joke placement
  • Getting to the point (put funny aside - what are you trying to say?)
  • Using an Economy of words, and when not to use words

Building a Character from the Ground Up

  • What’s the character’s “deal”
  • How to avoid making a character two-dimensional
  • Creating consistency of character
  • Developing a world that supports the character’s point of view
  • Discovering what the character is “hiding” and “fighting” for, whether it’s in the stand up act or the pilot episode

Writing Holistically and Solving Challenges from a Panoramic Point of View

  • Pivoting creatively, and when it’s time to do it
  • How to allow the solution to appear on its own
  • Leaning into the uncomfortable/dealing with “The Committee”

Letting Go

  • How to let go of “What will they think?”
  • How to let go of “Is this offensive?”
  • How to let go of “Should I go to law school?”
  • Going “far afield” to unblock
  • Mourning the loss of an idea, joke, or character
  • How to rebuild

Q&A with John

About Your Instructor

John Mooney is an accomplished multi-hyphenate with experience as an actor, comic, singer, and writer. As a comic, he’s appeared on Comedy Central and the AXS television network. As a writer, John is the co-writer and executive producer of a feature film starring Harry Lennix (NBC’s THE BLACKLIST), which is currently in pre-production. John has created content for Machinima and Comedy Concepts, and has appeared in commercials, web series, and video games, including GRAND THEFT AUTO V. He also recurred on 30 ROCK as Reverend Gary. His stage performances include the upcoming musical MAIDEN VOYAGE alongside Jenn Colella (Tony-nominated for COME FROM AWAY) and Hannah Corneau (WICKED).


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