24 Experimental Comedy Training Camp

Program dates: September 10, 2012 - October 26, 2012

Application deadline: April 13, 2012

Program Information

Rule #1: What you were doing and calling "art" is now called "experimental comedy."

"Experimental comedy" is the injection of the sublime, the blatantly inscrutable, the abstract, the primal, the operatic, the choreographic, the theoretical, the improbable, the generative, the post-rhythmic, the turbo-stupid, etc., into the frame of stand-up. Instead of PIECES, what you do is now called JOKES. 

Both art and comedy are supposed to be enlightening, critical, and temporarily bewildering. Potential agents of revolution, they may also reveal aspects of human experience which are otherwise hidden or off limits. The only difference is that comedy is supposed to make us laugh, while art is supposed to make us think. Experimental comedy is often tragic or deeply disappointing, but the promise of it being funny binds us to it more than the promise of making us think, which, of course, it also does.

The aim of this residency is take funny people and make them funnier, and make their humour approach a state of panic. Michael Portnoy, the Director of Behaviour, does not care about your references, your stories, your criticalities, or your politics. He wants you to do things with words, images, objects, and movement that attack logic in the gut and make it foam at the mouth.

The residency will include a light study of contemporary humour theory in the fields of psychology, philosophy, and cognitive linguistics as well as a sprint through comedy-writing instructional texts and books on comedy in the visual arts. A weekly experimental comedy club, daily prank calls, and regular "roasts" will occur, where we take existing works of art, ideas, and forms of practice and tweak, skewer, prune and graft them to create new destabilizing chimera. In group sessions, the four main areas of focus will be language/logic, movement/character, scenario/situation, and things which do things.


Above photo: Michael Portnoy, Taipei Women’s Experimental Comedy Club, 2010, installation and performance. Installation view, Taipei Biennial, 2010.

All programs, faculty, dates, fees, and offers of financial assistance are subject to change. Program fee subject to applicable taxes. Non-refundable fees and deposits will be retained upon cancellation. Any other fees are refunded at the discretion of The Banff Centre.