Humorist

Dr. David Axelrod stands in front of his office at his Creative Happiness Institute in Daytona Beach.

How many comedy writers does it take to write a skit?

You can find out during Humor Writing Workshops at Ormond Memorial Art Museum.

Dr. David Axelrod, known best as Volusia County Poet Laureate, will convene the sessions.

Dr. Axelrod has plenty of credentials to teach the class, although this will be his first time teaching a Humor Writing Workshop. He worked comedy clubs for years and even tried his hand in Hollywood. He was also editor of a college humor magazine, Yahoo. He has written and sold jokes to magazines, worked on the set of the TV show Cheers, and performed and emceed at numerous comedy clubs. Author of books like “The Man Who Fell in Love with a Chicken,” his career as a performance poet was built around making poetry entertaining for the masses.

Dr. Axelrod also has sold memoirs, stories and satire, and won both a playwriting award and a Gilman Fellowship in theater at The Johns Hopkins University. As an actor, he was Mr. Smith in Ionesco’s “The Bald Soprano,” and Thisbe in Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Dr. Axelrod said the first hour of each class will be performing a five-minute comedy routine, which will then be critiqued by the class. The class will be spontaneous without lesson plans.

“We’ll all be learning together,” he said.” It will be kind of a group comedy writing session. A lot of sitcoms and comedy writing are done as a team effort. You toss out an idea, you brainstorm, and you see if people react. I think the only way to know if something is funny is to try it out on someone.”

Dr. Axelrod acknowledged comedians often get booed or things thrown at them while performing, but he made clear this is going to be “a comedy friendly comedy writer workshop. We’re not going to be mean.”

He said, “I have personally used laughter to get through some very hard times. If I can share the joy, it’s a lot better than being depressed with a group of people. I’ve had a long flirtation with comedy. I’ve had humor as my faithful companion through all the years. If you can’t make your own life into an amusement park, what good is it?”

He learned a lot about effective comedy through his life and stated he will have fun sharing jokes, tricks and techniques with workshop participants. All humorists and writers are welcome. Stagecraft, stand-up, memoirs, stories, even limericks will be the subjects of study.

“The single, abiding rule,” he said, “will be too treat each other nicely. Other than that, no holds barred, although we do have to be careful where we hold each other.”

Workshop participants will discuss what makes things funny and they will also be instructed on popular formats for humor/comedy writing. Each session will offer a chance to tell a joke, present a short stand-up routine or even stage a brief skit. Creations will be critiqued. Because what people find funny is so variable, the contents of each session will be spontaneous, though some tried and true principles will be shared. The class will not be “censored,” although, as with any venue, participants must show mutual respect.

After the humor workshops are completed, National Poetry Month will be celebrated at The Casements, according to Dr. Axelrod. He will invite humor workshop attendees to perform “their five minutes” at the Poetry Festival.

The first day of the workshops has been canceled, but the other sessions, from 10:30 to 12:30 April 2, 9 and 16 may still occur. Participants are asked to pay for the meetings in advance, although taking fewer classes may be possible. 

The workshops are cosponsored by Creative Happiness Institute, the non-profit cultural organization Dr. Axelrod also directs. The museum is at 78 E Granada Blvd in Ormond Beach.

For information, contact Dr. Axelrod at (386) 337-4567, axelrod@creativehappiness.org. Registration is online at ormondartmuseum.org.

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