News Online: Comedy class helps Edmontonians find their inner “giggle”

Published online at on March 10, 2011.

Linda Hoang, Global News: Thursday, March 10, 2011

Comedy class helps Edmontonians find their inner “giggle”

Imagine a classroom where there’s no essays and there’s no tests, but delivering a hilarious punch line to a knock knock joke could help you get a passing grade.

No, it’s not a joke.

The biggest class clown is the best student in a stand-up comedy class taught at Amiskwaciy Academy.

Call it, Stand Up Comedy 101.

For the last 20 years, a local comedian has been helping students learn to conquer their fears of public speaking, all the while sharpening their funny bones.

“They want to learn the art of stand up,” said instructor Paul Sveen.

Sveen says every class he teaches is different, from the style of comedy each student brings, to their backgrounds and experiences.

“I’ve had lawyers in this class, surgeons,” he said. “I’ve had everything from business people to people who are just taking a break and want to learn about stand-up.”

He explains to his students that comedians share their story and they share their life.

But that sharing, isn’t always easy, and for most students in the class, it can be terrifying.

“The first presentation I was extremely nervous,” said Monika Hubbertz.

Hubbertz teaches Grade 2, but wanted to “broaden her appeal” — which is why she signed up for Sveen’s comedy class.

“I want to do public speaking and so I thought this would be a good way to gain some confidence,” she said.

Rhys Oswald has always been a comedic, but signed up to the class to help him hone his skills.

“This class will kind of help me out and boost my confidence and help me get an idea of how to write jokes a little better,” he said.

And that’s exactly what Sveen hopes he’s able to help his students achieve.

“If you can make that shift from being afraid to being confident and certain and sharing moments of your life that you’ve earned the right to share, then you’re sharing an energy of confidence and happiness,” Sveen said.

After a month’s worth of lessons — and laughing — Hubbertz, Oswald, and their classmates take to the stage for their final exam.

They perform stand-up comedy to friends and family at The Laugh Shop comedy club in Sherwood Park.

“Tonight I choose to be vulnerable, to have fun, and to just be myself,” the class chanted together before they went on stage.

And for them, like the other class clowns who’ve come through Sveen’s class, all have learned something about comedy, and something about themselves.

“I kind of gained that spark back and it’s been wonderful,” Hubbertz said.

“I had a lot of fun,” said Oswald. “It was a total blast and I would love to do something like this again.”

With that, Sveen says goodbye to that batch of comedians and moves onto the next.

He loves helping Edmontonians find their inner “giggle” and says some of his students have even gone on to become comedians as a career.

But comedy tour or not, Sveen says, as long as everyone’s laughing, then the class has been a success.

“The art of laughing and the energy behind laughing to me is one of the pinnacle traits of us, of the people on this planet, it’s laughter (and) we need more of it.”

With files from Ryan Ellis

Click here to read the article on the Global Edmonton website.

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