Comedy writer-performer Ali Farahnakian is the founder of the Peoples Improv Theater, a New York City comedy training center and performance space. He recently opened Comedy Bar NYC and also owns the Simple Studios audition and rehearsal space.
Can you teach someone to be funny?
Teaching someone to be funny is like teaching someone to be fast. They’re already fast. You’re just making them faster. Baseball players practice, runners practice, so how can you practice being funny? You get up onstage. You train as an improviser, playing make-believe, using the vernacular of improvisation, saying “yes and” to other people’s ideas, making statements. Folks like Charlie Chaplin probably weren’t taking classes, but they were getting up in front of audiences and getting booed and having tomatoes thrown at them.
How does a comic advance one’s career?
What we talk about at the PIT is craft, community, and career. Work on your craft, and your career will come. Work on your community, and your career will come. But just work on your career, and you’ll have neither a craft nor a community.
Who should take classes at the PIT?
Everybody is welcome. I think anybody would benefit from a class, because then they have the rules of improvisation in their mind and they can live a life of improvisation. You may get into it to try to be famous, and then realize you actually like it.