Getting to Yes, And

Mike Lukas: Finding Your Funny Muscle


Mike Lukas

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Kelly reconnects with Second City alum Mike Lukas to talk about his new book, “Finding Your Funny Muscle: How to Create Laughs Like a Pro.”

People might not understand that the comedy landscape in Chicago really didn’t include standup as a local phenomenon until a few decades ago.

“The boom for stand up started in the eighties. It was nuts. Everybody who had any jokes could get a gig. That ended up back firing eventually, but at the time it was seen as this gold mine all over Chicago, for people, and not just clubs. Because it was also one-nighters that would open up. So, you got these weekend clubs that are owned by a booker, and then these weeknight one nighters scattered around the city that would basically pay for the weekend comics. So that these bookers are, you know, getting free comedy in their own club. And it was it was a really cool racket, I guess, if you're on that side of the equation. For us it was stage time.”

I’ve been thinking about what unites really great stand-up comics and comic improvisors and I think it has something to do with expressing a universal truth.

"The better you get at doing the craft the more you consider what you just said. And in the beginning, you’re really like an infant thrown into a deep end of a pool, and you're just trying to fight for breath. You don't even know how to hold a microphone yet. So, you're just trying to please this crowd of people who don't know you. And that's the hardest jump - to go from making your friends and family laugh to strangers who are paying money, and it's just a big difference. And then, as you begin to get more sophisticated as a joke, deliverer, you have to go from being a corner quipper, somebody who just whips out jokes to being someone who has a comedy lens, somebody who understands the portal through which they look at life based on who they are, and the struggles that they have and the things that come up in their life that make them want to make jokes. And then, when you begin to have that lens, your comedy begins to be not only funnier, but more relatable and more memorable.”

How did you come to the idea of funny as a muscle?

“It's not a bone. Bones are stiff and rigid, and they break. Funny is flexible and it grows with use like a muscle. And that's why I came up with the funny muscle idea. And these humor heightening devices, like improv heightening, are the key to getting laughs. It's the ‘yes anding’ in exploring a thing to a higher level that that doesn't occur to you. And these heightening devices that I have allow you to do that so you get practice until you can get it right so that it will drop to your muscle memory.”

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