The Art of Making People Laugh

We could all use a good laugh nowadays. With politics dominating television, radio, and internet, comedy continues to lift spirits and bring people together.

March 2017

Writer / Janelle Morrison

Would you dare to stand in front of your peers and strangers and attempt to make them laugh, on cue?
The Center for the Performing Arts recently added to their portfolio of programs an Intro to Stand-Up Comedy class, and we interviewed a few willing participants on what motivated them to try their hands at comedy.

Instructing the class is professional comedian Mat Alano-Martin, who comes to comedy from the world of rock and roll. With a comedic style that bridges the social and political views of his indie-rock background with the attitude and sensibilities of his rural and blue collar youth, Alano-Martin has appeared at comedy clubs, theaters, punk rock dives, redneck roadhouses, casinos, colleges, living rooms and everywhere in between.

Alano-Martin has taught this class in Bloomington and finds the chance to teach it at the Center for the Performing Arts an exciting opportunity. “This class as originally designed as part of the partnership between Limestone Comedy Festival, of which I am the co-director, and Ivy Tech Bloomington,” he said. “Julia Shildmyer-Heighway reached out to me about bringing the course to the Center as part of their community arts programming. As far as the importance of the class, I think it serves as a safe place for people who might be looking at doing stand-up as a bucket list item or for those who just want to try it. The classroom setting gives them the opportunity to write and perform stand-up in a supportive environment.”

Meet Some of the Comedians John Langham, 61 Carmel Langham is a local business owner who originally bought the class as a gift for a friend who was turning 60 and then his friend talked him into taking the class. “I thought it would be fun to do something outside of my normal comfort zone,” he said. Langham hopes to one day headline here in Carmel at the Palladium.

Mike Shauley, 57 Fishers Shauley is a sales representative for a manufacturing company. He had a friend who did comedy a long time ago, and he thought that taking this class would be fun. Shauley hopes to conquer the fear of not being able to make people laugh. He has been inspired by Ron White, Jim Gaffigan, and Jerry Seinfeld.

Robert Heighway, 53 Castleton Area
“I build pipe organs for a living,” Heighway said. “I have always enjoyed good, intelligent humor. I hope to conquer the fear of telling the jokes that I have written. Laughter makes the journey of life easier,” he said.

Lance Angus, 48 Carmel
Angus works as a service dispatcher at Indianapolis Power & Light Company and said he has always enjoyed the “craft” and different styles of comedy, so he wanted to learn more about it. His biggest challenge that he hopes to overcome in the class is the anxiety of being in front of strangers. “Life goes by too quick to take it seriously. Hopefully, I can help other people laugh, too.” Angus would love to be able to perform one day at The Hollywood Improv in Los Angeles.

Steven M. Kirsh, 63 Carmel
Kirsh is an adoption attorney by day and is interested in this class so that he can develop a routine for his son’s rehearsal dinner before his upcoming wedding. When asked why he believes that laughter is important, he replied, “Laughter is very disarming. It makes strangers feel comfortable and at ease. If given the opportunity to perform on any stage, I would choose the Palladium.”

Bill Eckert, 70 Carmel
Eckert is retired and works part-time at the Center for the Performing Arts. “I’m taking the class because my wife says that I’m not funny, but I am,” Eckert professed. “There are no fears that I hope to conquer in this class; mine are beyond conquest.” If given the opportunity, Eckert would perform at Carnegie Hall.

Patrick J. Crowley, 62 Indianapolis
Crowley is the General Manager of Patterson Dental Supply. He says his wife encouraged him to take the class. He hopes to gain confidence in being able to write good jokes and improve his presentation skills. Crowley said. “If I could headline anywhere, I would like to perform at Caesar’s Palace.”

Liz Prugh, 29 Indianapolis
Prugh is a marketing consultant and the co-founder of PureFandom.com. The class registration was a gift from her husband and was on her “bucket list” of things to do. Her biggest worry is not getting someone to laugh at her jokes. When asked where she would one day like to perform, she replied, “I’d love to host an awards show. The Emmy’s, Golden Globes, Oscars – whichever will have me.”

Wendy Volkmar, 51 Carmel
Volkmar is an artist and housewife. Both she and her husband, Karl, are taking the class together. “My only concern was that he was going to skip out because of the public speaking part of it,” Volkmar said. Her “dream stage” would be to perform right here in Carmel at the Palladium.

The culmination of the class occurs on March 10th when the participants take the stage for a public performance at the Studio Theater at 7:30pm.