• write and perform stand up comedy

stand up comedy course

An 8 week stand up comedy course on writing and performing stand up, culminating in a live showcase performance in front of a friendly audience at our comedy club.

No previous experience needed, complete beginners are welcome. No previous experience in stand up, writing or comedy are needed to do this course.

Dates, Times, Location:

Every Tuesday for 8 weeks from Tuesday 25th September 2018. Show on Wed 21st November.

Time: 7pm – 9:30pm

Price: £230. Either payable all at once or with an initial payment of £100 followed by the remaining £130 at the start of the course.

Teacher: Max Dickins

Workshop Location: Theatre Delicatessen Studios, 1st Floor, 2 Finsbury Avenue (off Whitecross Place), London, EC2M 2PP.

Tube: Liverpool Street or Moorgate.

Show Venue: Hoopla at The Miller, 96 Snowsfields Road, London, SE1 3SS

Tube: London Bridge


This course is now fully booked. Please contact us to be added to the waiting list for future dates.

who runs the course

Max Dickins, stand up comedy teacher with Hoopla ImproMax Dickins started his career as a Sony Radio Award nominated radio presenter for Absolute Radio, spending 2 years behind the microphone.

Max has gone on to be an in-demand stand-up, playwright, actor and sketch/character comedian.

He has starred in five sold-out runs at the Edinburgh festival.

His Edinburgh show “My Groupon Adventure” featured him doing every single deal that came up on Groupon for a year, and was a sell-out smash at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival. It has since been published as a book and is available in Waterstones later this year.

Max was twice a finalist in Chortle Student Comedian of The Year. He has appeared at the prestigious Edinburgh stand-up showcases “The Lunchtime Club” and “AAA” in the Pleasance Courtyard.

He performed his debut solo show “This Will Only Take A Moment” in Edinburgh in 2012, “Dear Ray” in 2013, “The Trunk” in 2015 and “The Man on the Moor” in 2017.

His play “The Man on the Moor” is currently on a UK tour, and his new play “Kin” is being published by Samuel French this summer.

Max is also part of double-act sketch show “Dregs”, with comedian Mark Smith. They took their debut Edinburgh show to the fringe in 2011, having already written and appeared in sketches for Channel 4 (‘This Just In’) and BBC2 (‘Dick and Dom’s Funny Business’). At Edinburgh they enjoyed a sell-out run at The Underbelly, and the show was recommended by The Independent as one of the “Top Ten Comedy Shows To See At The Fringe”.

Dregs was also recommended by The Guardian and Time Out. They also do a fortnightly comedy podcast, which was recently nominated for European Podcast of the Year.

Max is also Director of Hoopla’s Corporate Training and regularly runs workshops on creativity and innovation with Google, Facebook, Accenture and Apple.

what's included

Our stand up comedy course is about giving you the skills to produce great work over the long-term. We aim to help you express as well as possible what is uniquely funny about you.

Suitable for all, from complete beginners to people who’ve already done some gigs. We adapt to each person so everyone welcome.

We will provide a safe environment for our students to perform a short set every week. We don’t think you can learn comedy from a book: you need to learn by doing it and finding out what is uniquely hilarious about you.

You will learn how to write hilarious material, and also how to perform it with charisma and skill. Furthermore, you will be given an insider’s view of the circuit to help you find gigs and avoid the common pitfalls of beginners.

Our coach a working professional stand-up. He has been there and done it, and continues to do it most night of the week, so he knows all about the journey from beginner to professional. Thus he has unique insight into what it takes, and what has helped him make the jump.

No previous experience needed, complete beginners are welcome. No previous experience in stand up, writing or comedy is needed to do this course.

Topics Covered

An introduction to jokes:
We will look at the nuts and bolts of joke writing, common pitfalls, and basic “rules”. For example:

  • Rule of three.
  • Pull back and reveal.
  • Cutting the fat: being lean.
  • Call-backs.
  • Toppers.
  • A variety of word-play jokes.
  • Set-ups: building tension and using misdirection.
  • Max’s three act joke structure explanation.

We will also look at some techniques to help generate material, such as:

  • Joke webs/spider diagrams.
  • Morning pages.
  • The surrealist inquisition sheet.
  • Third eye.


Character as one of the crucial parts of good comedy:
Through video and group discussion we will look at great sitcom characters, and also stand-ups with a distinctive “attitude” or “point of view” (which comes to be their character on stage).

Alongside character, we will look at the importance of exaggeration in comedy: through exaggeration comes truth. Comedy is not about being reasonable, being objective, having perspective, taking the rough with the smooth. It’s about the opposite. Our job is to help the students find the part of their psyche which is unreasonable and help them filter the world through it for material. It’s about putting that part of their personality to the forefront.

The aim of this part of the course is to help the students identify the funniest part of their personality and turn it up to 11.

As a stand-up you’re a cartoon. Through this process the students will build their clown, their own distinctive comic character on the stage.

The incongruence that is crucial to a funny joke comes from not just linguistics (the written material) but also through attitude and clowning: the “meta-joke”, as it were. You are exaggerating things, making them huge, you are an architect of the absurd. The jokes are the bullet in the gun, but you are the funny thing.

Finally, we’ll also look at the vital importance of CONVICTION in both the writing and performance of material.


Observation/recognition based material:

There is no one big secret to good comedy, just lots of little ones and a few biggies: recognition is one of these biggies. So we will focus on the laughter of recognition, and the importance of being relatable with your material: passing the “owning up test”.

Through truth you’ll find the funny, specifically your own truth. We will work on the students confessing to their own minutiae as that is what audiences connect most to. We’ll teach you to be “a spy in the house of me”, because talking about yourself unlocks what Eddie Izzard calls “the mother-load”: a huge fountain of potential material.


Performance Skills:

We will analyse videos of great comics for technique before doing specific exercises to build skills. Including:

  • Body language.
  • Para-language.
  • Mugging and mimicry.
  • Making everything BIG!
  • Energy: physical, vocal and emotional.
  • Breaking 4th wall, connecting with audience. Stand-up is a live art-form and we want students to embrace this.

We’ll look at preachers, legendary front-men and great communicators in general in the process to help students produce a performance of confidence, charisma, energy and presence.

One of the biggest objectives of the course is for the students to build their confidence. I have a special method for achieving this, by helping students to fix what I call “the hole”.



We’ll look at building stories. How to take the cornel of a story and build it into a longer “bit”: full of jokes and amusing imagery. Most people don’t understand that stories are made, not born, and we will focus on the craft of building routines.


Final Preparations for the Performance:

Including mic technique, psychological warm-up planning to help prevent stage-fright, the ordering and linking of material (segues), easy errors to avoid.