And now for something completely different! This summer, The Paramount Academy for the Arts presents a Stand Up Comedy Intensive class as part of its Performing Arts Camp. The classes run from 1pm-4pm on July 20th – July 31st and are open to students in grades 6-12. Festival favorite Ralph Hardesty (Moontower, Fun Fun Fun Fest, Bridgetown Comedy Festival) will introduce students to the process of writing and performing stand-up comedy and cover topics ranging from writing jokes to working a crowd.
“With the Paramount having such a big identity as a home for comedy we wanted to connect to that work,” explained Associate Director of Education & Outreach Brian C. Fahey. “Ralphie has been a featured comic in Moontower for the past few years and he’s a middle school teacher so he’s a great fit to teach the class.”
I spoke with Ralphie about his own beginnings in comedy, what he wished he knew when he started, and what to expect from the class.
When did you first develop an interest in comedy? Tell me a bit about your background and early experiences in standup.
I’ve been interested in comedy my entire life! I used to watch old reruns of I Love Lucy and the Mary Tyler Moore show over and over until I memorized them, and I would recite them at the dinner table. Standup is one of my first loves, but I didn’t start doing it until I was older. I went to my first open mic when I was 28, and that was because I was unemployed and needed things to occupy my time. I didn’t know that it would end up taking SO MUCH of my time, or I might not have ever started. I’m happy I did?
If you could tell your younger self one thing you learned about standup since you started, what would it be?
I would tell my younger self to start earlier than I did. I started a full 10 years later than I wish I had, since the only thing that a young comedian needs is experience, as much as they can get. That’s why I think this class is such a great idea, because it gives very young adults experience in a safe space. It’s a terrifying idea, to try to make strangers laugh, but anyone can do it.
Tell me a little bit about the stand-up comedy class. What can students expect?
I think the class will be a fun way to generate ideas for stand up comedy performances, as well as workshopping their own original jokes. We’ll also be watching excellent examples of (completely clean) comedy, which should be pretty universally entertaining. So, in short, students can expect a really fun time watching and performing comedy!
For more information about the classes and to register online, click here.
More on instructor Ralph Hardesty:
Ralph Hardesty is a die-hard Midwesterner who, after a series of indelible life mistakes, eventually wound up writing comedy in Austin. Hardesty has performed at a ton of festivals including Fun Fun Fun Fest, Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival, Bridgetown Comedy Festival, the Ladies Are Funny Festival (though he is male, he is no less a lady) and the San Francisco Comedy & Burrito Festival, which was delicious. Moms love him.