Thursday, August 25, 2022

How I Got My Comic Training.

When I was just a young man in the business I got very lucky. These were the days when agencies--even ones that weren't that good--maybe even those one or two tiers down from the best--spent a decent amount of money training young employees.

[BTW, some industry friends and I are in the long process of creating an ad school. We're calling it Working Class and we've already enlisted some of the top names in the business to teach classes. We plan to sign-up a few more. By the time the frost is on the pumpkin, we'll be selling 'seats' to agencies so their people can get the kind of training that's not available today, virtually anywhere.

Watch this space for more as Working Class starts working.]

In any event, I was one of about six agency creatives--all around the same age--who joined this particular agency at the same time. Of those six I was the one chosen to go to a "Comedy Camp for Ad People" boot camp.

When I arrived at the Comedy Camp, there were other 'campers' from different agencies all over the country, including some of the most vaunted shops in the business.

I got to my assigned bunk and quickly stowed my belongings. Then one of the counselors blew a shrill whistle and ordered us all into our swimsuits and down to the lake for our first lesson.

As instructed, the first student in our small group rowed an old boat out to center of the small lake. All at once another instructor appeared in the lake and started flailing about as if he were drowning.

"Help! Help!" the faux-drowning instructor cried. "Throw me a line." Student One dutifully tossed in a life-preserver with a nylon rope attached and pulled the instructor into safety and into the boat.

That routine repeated itself four more times. Each time the drowning instructor would screech, "Help, help. Throw me a line." And each time a student would hurl the designated life-preserver toward the 'victim.'

Finally, it was my turn.

I was nervous.

Was I up to the task? 

Would the instructors and my fellow students laugh at me? You screw up here and peers from agencies all over the country would mock me. I feared my career would be over before it had even properly started.

With some sweat on my brow and my pouty lower-lip a-quiver, I rowed to the middle of the lake. The drowning counselor began his very convincing flailing.

"Help! Help!" he cried. "Throw me a line! Throw me a line!"

I took a deep breath. I thought. And I thought.

Then, a metaphorical lightning bolt hit me. 

I remembered why I was there. Why I was at Comedy Camp.

"Throw me a line!" The counselor screamed as he, rather convincingly, submerged into the murk. "Throw me a line!"

As he sunk, I rose to the occasion.

Rather than tossing the life-preserver, I used my head.

"Throw me a line!" he bellowed.

With impeccable timing tinged with more than a dollop of Borscht, I replied, "Take my wife, please." 

A counselor on shore drummed a rimshot.

While everyone in my group got a passing grade.

I got an "A."

Take my ad school, please.

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