2013 Zanies Official Comedy Classes are forming NOW - featuring “The Maxwell Method” of Standup Comedy! (REGISTER BELOW)
Zanies is proud to continue what has grown to become the recognized and respected standard bearer of standup comedy classes not only in Chicago but the entire Midwest! Do NOT be fooled by imitators - this is the original and still going strong since 1995 class that has helped more than 2000 satisfied students from all walks of life realize their dream of not only experiencing the fun and thrill of live standup comedy, but experience it in the correct way. There’s a huge difference.
What is “The Maxwell Method” and why is it better?
Dobie Maxwell began teaching comedy classes in 1993 after surviving a near fatal car wreck in his hometown of Milwaukee. He had a lengthy down time recovering from his many injuries and received a call from a local college asking him to teach a class for aspiring standup comedians.
“I told them I didn’t think it was possible to teach funny,” Maxwell says. “I thought at the time a person either had it or they didn’t, and that was it. Then they offered to pay me for my time and I knew I was going to have to put something together. I had no other way to earn a living then.”
Since that first session of classes, Maxwell has continuously reshaped and improved the course by trial and error and continues to do so to this day. “I’m very pleased with how the structure of the course has evolved” he says. “I’ve poured years of sweat and my own experience into it and I continue to grow both as a comedian and a teacher all the time. Students will NOT get cheated.”
“I am a nationally touring WORKING standup comedy headliner, and I’ve been able to make a living at comedy all of my adult life.” Maxwell says. “That’s one of the most difficult things any entertainer can achieve, and I’ve more than paid my dues along the way. My mistakes are many, but they also make me qualified to teach those coming up the ladder what the real world is like.”
Dobie became the first and only teacher of Zanies Comedy Classes in 1995, and has been very selective of others he allows to teach. “I want Zanies classes to be the best there are anywhere. If they have my name on them, I take it very personally. I want all the students to get far more than they pay for each and every session of each and every level. All may not agree with me - at least at first - but in the end nobody can say I don’t have passion. I pour my soul into all my classes.”
Bill Gorgo has been in charge of teaching Level 1 classes for several years, and he has earned Dobie’s full endorsement. “Bill is an outstanding comedian in his own right and has been a real teacher on the high school level for decades. Students are in great hands with Bill, and he’s one of the few comedians I know who are as passionate about helping new talent develop as I am.”
There have also been a distinguished list of guest speakers through the years who show up as their schedules allow including Gideon Bailey, Michael Issac and $100,000 Star Search Champ John Roy. Dobie and Bill both strive to offer different viewpoints from working professionals.
What do classes entail in 2013?
Comedy is a completely different business in a completely different world than it was in 1995, and Zanies classes are always evolving and improving to stay with the times. Dobie and Bill are markedly different in their comedy and teaching styles, but both agree that there are fundamental ingredients of what it takes to build a foundation upon which a career in comedy can be built and those basic ingredients will remain constant forever. Every field of endeavor has a basic skill set.
Dobie and Bill have broken their combined fifty plus years of hard earned practical experience down to three basic but information packed levels designed to help the beginner focus on several aspects of what he or she will need to master as a performer in the 21st Century. The game is not the same as it once was, and those entering without help can find it to be both overwhelming and intimidating. There is a LOT more to it than ‘just being funny’ and classes are structured as such.
Level 1 - "The Joke"
||Sundays: May 12 - June 2
||Sundays: June 9 - 30
This is the basic four week introductory level of classes designed to equip students with a basic overview of what standup comedy is and entails – and what it isn’t. It’s NOT acting or improv or anything other than what Zanies has been known for in Chicago since 1978 – standup comedy.
Standup comedy is a craft, and is treated as such by all instructors. Acting and improv are also crafts, but unfortunately not the same. Some aspects of both may be similar, but standup comedy is its own entity and that needs to be established up front. This level will present a solid base for growth – even in those who have dabbled in any aspect of performing before. It’s basic training.
Level 1 classes are designed for anyone from the total novice who has never stepped on a stage before to those who have been working up to one year and/or 100 times on stage. Bill Gorgo is a master at breaking down the beginning fundamentals in an easy to follow and interesting way.
This session provides decades of hard earned knowledge broken down and concentrated into an easy to digest format, and features safe but personal critique of your material in front of the class on the final session. More growth will take place in these four sessions than in four years of blind wandering at open mics and amateur nights. You will gain a whole new insight into the business.
Some but not all of the topics covered in Level 1 classes include a standup comedy overview of the craft and business from the boom years of the ‘70s and ‘80s until today, and where you might fit in. Also covered will be joke writing and what it takes to get good at it the fastest. Developing an effective stage character is also discussed, as is proper on stage technique and how to look and act like a professional entertainer onstage and of. How to handle hecklers and stage fright are the two most asked about topics from every beginning performer, and you will learn how neither one will ever have to be a problem. Classes will focus on preparing you for your first year in comedy.
**Registration can be done online by clicking the On Sale link above, or you may call the Zanies Chicago box office and register via phone.
**Cash, Check, Credit Card, or Money Order is accepted as form of payment.
**Name, phone number and valid email address required to register.
**Deadline for signing up for any class is the Friday before the first class.
**Classes will have no less then 5 students, no more the 10.
**If you wish to cancel your enrollment you must do so prior to the start of the second class of the session. No refunds will be offered after that.
Level 2 - "The Bit"
||Monday, April 8, 15, 22, 29, May 6 + 13
Level 2 is a six week course and individual classes are designed to help those who have been performing regularly from one to five years. Some of the same topics will be covered as in the Level 1 course, but in a much deeper and more personal level. It’s the equivalent of teaching a class of grade schoolers how to write in first grade vs. WHAT to write later on. The beginner’s process tends to be unpleasant, but is necessary for everyone to go through to attain ‘chops’.
Remember learning how to drive a car? The first few lessons can be overwhelming with a lot of confusing details, but eventually it becomes a process not even thought about. This is a very similar situation, and Level 2 will be able to help someone who is putting an act together do it not only faster than they would on their own but with a proper plan in place to produce the best results in the long run. Six weeks are needed because there are a lot more skills to focus on.
The goal of Level 2 is for each student to have a ‘high five’, or their very best five minutes of material to begin taking their comedy experience to a higher level. Five minute segments are the correct way to build one’s career, as that’s how long most showcases are from open mic nights to national television appearances. Too many aspiring performers make a mistake by thinking they have or have a need for “hours of material.” It’s SO wrong. Let’s find a funny five minutes first.
There are many subtleties to developing a ‘high five’, and one thing Dobie and Bill can provide that few others anywhere can match is an experienced eye for critique from a place of having put in the time in front of thousands of audiences. What they tell you comes from a rare place that no newbie can access by any other method than earning it. This is why Zanies classes are the best in Chicago. Experience like that just can’t be faked. It’s like aged cheese or Scotch. Older IS better.
At the end of Level 2 classes, a student can expect a personalized battle plan of how to proceed and make the most effective use of every single time on stage. Quality stage time is much harder to get than any time in history, and that’s the only true way for any performer to grow. Still, that doesn’t mean taking a quality class can’t help. It can prepare you to make the best use of the time you get, and that will allow you to grow at the absolute fastest rate possible. It’s a combination.
Also covered in Level 2 is more in depth writing exercises, more detailed performance tips and several weeks of hands on critique on an actual Zanies stage performing in front of classmates. It helps those listening to become better observers of comedians and those on stage get to grow but not have to do it alone at some open mic without encouraging but needed critiques. It’s win/win.
Level 3 - "The Act"
Level 3 classes are aimed at the student who aspires to make performing a career. It’s for the experienced performer who is either thinking about or already making a living and wants to take themselves to a higher level in several areas. Again, fundamentals will still be stressed as always but there will be a more personal approach to meet individual needs to make comedy a career.
This will also be a six week course, and delve still more in depth into all aspects of comedy both onstage and off. You’ll learn how to present yourself like a professional to bookers you’re working for and how to get in with those you aren’t. Subtleties and hard lessons learned will be broken down to analyze, so Dobie’s lifetime of making mistakes isn’t in vein. It’s much better to learn from someone ELSE’S mistakes, and that’s what you’ll be able to do without consequence.
Also covered in Level 3 is self promotion, using social media, merchandising tips and when to know when “you’re ready” for the next step on the entertainment ladder. You’ll again leave class with a personal battle plan custom made for you with a list of steps to take to achieve your goals in a realistic manor. You’ll make valuable personal contacts both in Chicago and all over North America, and have the ear of two nationally touring working headliners to go to for advice along your journey. That’s a luxury many performers don’t have, and that alone is worth the price.
You can expect to be pushed to your limits, but in a positive way. Dobie and Bill and all of the other guest speakers and instructors have been through the wars. Nothing you are told in a Zanies class hasn’t been experienced by the instructor, and you will be able to gain access to knowledge it has taken any one of them years if not decades to learn. It’s like getting a peek at an opposing team’s play book in football. What you do with it is up to you, but chances are it will be useful.
Another aspect of Zanies classes that is stressed is FUN. Quite honestly, most who take a class will never pursue comedy as a full time vocation and that’s totally fine. Most students just want a chance to be with other funny people and try it out. We’re fully aware of that, and if that is your reason for attending you will be welcomed for who you are. We make class something for all the students to look forward to, and it is our desire for you to consider it the highlight of your week.
About the instructor - Bill Gorgo:
Bill Gorgo is a twenty plus year veteran of the standup comedy scene in addition to being a credited high school teacher. He has performed across North America and taught comedy at Columbia College. Bill's laid back style onstage and off and his continuing study of the comedy business makes him an extremely qualified authority on the subject of standup comedy. His teaching skills are polished, as is his knowledge of all aspects of comedy, onstage and off. Bill's passion for the business shines through in each class.
About the instructor - Dobie Maxwell:
Dobie is considered to be one of the best to train anyone in comedy. His former students and the Chicago Tribune agree.
Dobie has taught one day seminars at Marquette University and several corporate sales meetings across North America. He has also taught at and been asked to return to the prestigious Round Table Convention in Hollywood in which comedy writers from all over North America gather to learn all facets of the comedy business. That convention was started by Gene Perret, who was Bob Hope's head writer for many years and a writer and producer for The Carol Burnett Show and many other successful projects.
As Dobie teaches in his classes and seminars, "Other people's pain is HILARIOUS. When it's yours, it might feel bad to you but you're making others laugh, whether they admit it or not." It's cruel, but it's a fact. Well, Dobie Maxwell can make you laugh. If not, he can teach you to find your own sense of humor and try to make others laugh. It's not as easy as it looks, and he has saved you many years of time having to go through the grueling trials and turmoils he has gone through. Think you're having a rough day? Think of "Mr. Lucky" and it should put a smile on your puss. That's the whole idea of a comedian anyway. Dobie doesn't mind.
Learn from the master of mistakes, and avoid his pitfalls, and learn from his achievements.
Any further questions can be directed to Dobie Maxwell at email@example.com or Bill Gorgo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you in class! This will be our best year ever, and we guarantee you’ll get FAR more than you ever imagined. All the best in your pursuit of standup comedy, as the world needs laughter more now than ever before. Why not YOU to provide it?