24 Experimental Comedy Training Camp

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

Application deadline: April 13, 2012

Program Faculty


Michael Portnoy

Michael Portnoy is a New York-based artist, musician, and writer. His practice spans dance-theatre, vocal power-tools, Relational Stalinism, reptangles, experimental stand-up, prog-operatic spectacle, abstract gambling, the improvement of biennials, and Icelandic cockroach porn. Portnoy's art circles the rules of play and communication, with language itself playing a crucial role. He has presented internationally in museums, art galleries, theatres and music halls, including the Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013);  dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel (2012); Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp (2011); Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam (2011); Taipei Biennial (2010); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2010); De Appel, Amsterdam (2010); CAC, Vilnius (2010); Performa 07, 09, and 11 Biennial, New York; Kadist Foundation, Paris (2009); Kunstverein, Amsterdam (2009); SculptureCenter, New York (2008); Ibid Projects, London (2008); Kunsthalle Basel (2008); Second Moscow Biennial (2007); and Art Unlimited Basel (2007). His first book, Script Opposition in Late-Model Carrot Jokes was published in 2011.



Mai Abu ElDahab

Mai Abu ElDahab is a freelance curator from Cairo, based in Brussels. From 2007-2012 she was the director of Objectif Exhibitions in Antwerp, where she curated a program of solo shows by Guy Ben-Ner, Mariana Castillo Deball, Michael Stevenson, Hassan Khan, Michael Portnoy, Norma Jeane and Tim Etchells, Patricia Esquivias, and Barbara Visser, among many others. She recently edited and co-edited several publications including From Berkeley to Berkeley: Objectif Exhibitions, 2008-2010 (2011), Circular Facts (2011), Hassan Khan: The Agreement (2011), and After Berkeley: Objectif Exhibitions, 2010-2012 (2012), all from Sternberg Press, Berlin. She has written most recently for Artforum and Mousse Magazine.


Steven M. Johnson

Cartoonist-inventor Johnson discovered a latent talent for creating unusual whimsical products in 1974 when, as a freelance editorial cartoonist for Sierra magazine, he was assigned to create 16 future recreation vehicles and came up with 100 ideas. Thus began a sideline venture into a laterally-imagined “line” of alternative products and systems that have appeared in The New York Times, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Txchnologist, Esquire, Fast Company, GOOD, Design Mind, Road & Track, Utne Reader, Whole Earth Review, Sierra, The Futurist, as well as in Box and Brutus (Japanese magazines). He is author of What The World Needs Now (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, 1984, 2001), Public Therapy Buses (St Martin’s Press, New York, 1991) and Have Fun Inventing: Learn to Think Up Products and Imagine Future Inventions (Patent Depending Press, Torrance, 2012). His work includes such concepts as the Smoking Helmet, the Pedal Train, Automobile Trampoline, Landfill Trash store, and Hide-A-Shower Couch. 


Reggie Watts

Reggie Watts is an internationally renowned vocalist, beat-boxer, musician, comedian, and improviser. Based in New York, his unpredictable performances are created on-the-spot using only his voice and looping pedals. Blending and blurring the lines between comedy and music, LA Weekly calls Watts “the most wildly inventive new talent of the past five years.”

As a solo performer, Watts was handpicked by Conan O’Brien to open nightly on O’Brien’s sold out North American Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television tour. Watts was crowned “Hot Comedian” by Rolling Stone, named SPIN Magazine’s “Best New Comedian” and “Best of CMJ 2010,” and featured in GQ’s Man Of The Year 2010 issue. Watts released his debut comedy cd/dvd Why $#!+ So Crazy? on Comedy Central Records in May 2010. He recorded an album at Jack White’s Third Man Records entitled Reggie Watts Live at Third Man Records and released in limited edition vinyl in 2011.

As a musician, Watts was invited to join LCD Soundsystem onstage at their final New York shows in spring 2011. He sang on Regina Spektor’s "Dance Anthem of the 80s" and contributed two tracks to DFA Records’ Spaghetti Circus/Untitled Love. As the frontman for Seattle rock outfit Maktub, Watts and his band released five albums. Watts recorded original music featured on Louis C.K.’s television show on FX Networks and performed the theme song for Kristen Schaal’s Penelope Princess of Pets. In 2011 he recorded an original session for the hugely popular Daytrotter series.

On screen, Watts has appeared on The Conan O’Brien Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, HBO’s The Yes Men Fix the World, Comedy Central’s Michael & Michael Have Issues, Iceland TV, the UK’s Funny Or Die, and PBS’ Electric Company.




Above photo: Michael Portnoy, Tasting Terror, 2011.

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.