"Study your craft all the time by reading, going to the circus, watching comedians, watching old videos of the great and not so great. Watch yourself in front of a mirror and learn to improvise." -- Mark Anthony
My local public library has started stocking a large selection of DVDs, especially classic comedy films. It is a new resource that I have recently discovered and am enjoying at no charge. I have talked to others who are taking advantage of the Netflex service to watch classic comedy.
One method of improvisation is remembering an appropriate idea at the suitable time and then changing it to fit the occasion. The more comedy that you see and study, the more likely you will have the right idea to put to use when you want it.
Carole and I were visiting a nursing home as Santa and Mrs. Claus on December 17. We went into a woman's room where I noticed a small artificial Christmas tree sitting on her night stand. I said, "Oh, that's a beautiful Christmas tree. It's just the right size for me to put a little box with some jewelry underneath."
The woman and Carole both laughed. Afterwards Carole told me she thought that was a good ad lib.
That line was actually inspired by a comic strip that I had read in that morning's paper. The Family Tree cartoon by Signe Wilkinson showed a couple at a nursery talking to a salesman.
Wife: We're looking for a small Christmas tree.
Salesman: How small?
Wife: Our apartment is so tiny we have to put a tree in our closet.
Salesman: Over here.
Husband: (Looking at a bench with small trees in pots.) Bonsai works!
Wife: And small jewelry boxes fit perfectly underneath!
At another nursing home that day, we met a couple that had been married for 63 years. I said, "Let's see for your fiftieth anniversary you get gold. For your 63rd you must get the medal of valor." They thought that was a good joke.
At the same nursing home there was a couple that had been married for 66 years. I used the same line. He said, "I don't remember ever getting a medal of valor."
His wife chuckled and said, "You're not the one who deserves it. The medal is mine."
The inspiration for that joke was seeing the Buck Trent country music show in Branson, MO last spring. At the end of the intermission Buck was recognizing people in the audience who were celebrating their anniversaries. He got into a conversation about anniversary gifts with his announcer and they used the medal of valor joke. It got a big laugh from his audience and it appealed to me so I wrote it down to lock it in my memory. I didn't know when I would have the opportunity to use it, but I am glad that I made an effort to remember it.
How can you fill your mental bank with comedy ideas for potential use? What can you read that contains comedy? What live performances can you attend that might include comedy? What resource do you have available for comedy videos?