Youth and adults will gather at Jamestown Community College for a boot camp July 30, but pushups, sit ups and cardiovascular exercises will be optional.
The Lucy Desi Center for Comedy and JCC's Center for Continuing Education have partnered to create the inaugural Lucille Ball Comedy Fest Bootcamp. The weeklong camp will feature workshops led by comedy professionals Bill Chott, T. Faye Griffin and Andy Engel.
"Whether you're an aspiring comedy writer, producer or performer, a working comic, or have ever just wanted to try to write or perform comedy, this is the perfect experience and environment," said Journey Gunderson, Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center executive director.
The camp will conclude during the Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy, which will be held Aug. 1-5. Workshops have been designed for serious and start-up comedians.
"Improv Intensive," led by Chott, will feature the type of comedy made famous by Chicago's Second City and TV's "Whose Line is it Anyway."
"The workshops I'm going to be teaching are improv from my perspective," Chott told The Post-Journal. "What I hope everyone will come away with is that comedy is more than just silliness; it's about connecting on a very human level. What we're really aiming at is not to make jokes, necessarily, but to access that part of the human condition that we all identify with."
Chott, who won the 2012 INNY Award for Best Improv Coach will also spearhead the youth comedy workshop, for individuals ages 11-17, along with Griffin.
"I don't want to brag, but I think one of the reasons I got that award was I've been doing improv a really long time," he said. "I've had contact with a bunch of different improvisers of all experience levels. I'm obviously very humbled by the award, but at the same time, that's not what improv is all about. It's not about being singled out as the best; it's about making others look their best."
Youth workshop participants will learn different types of comedy and showcase their talents for a live audience.
Griffin made her name in the comedy world as an NAACP Image Award winning producer and writer for "In Living Color." She'll lead a workshop titled "Sketch Writing: Page to Stage." Participants will learn the process of pitching, writing and producing sketches, some of which will be performed before a live audience.
"It's going to be intensive in that they're going to be doing a lot of writing," Griffin said. "It's not a performance course; we have an improv track for that. This is really a writing-intensive course, but it's going to be so much fun. I keep things very light. I call it 'no-fault writing.' There's no way to get it wrong."
Engel, founder of Manhattan Comedy School and director of new talent at New York's Gotham Comedy Club, will lead "Stand Up Shakedown." The workshop will teach participants joke writing, how to find a comedic voice and how to gain the confidence to deliver a six-minute set.
All students completing a workshop will have an opportunity for stage time at Lucy Fest. Students completing "Stand Up Shakedown" will earn a six-minute guest spot on stage at The Gotham, named one of the 10 best comedy clubs by USA Today.
Although participants won't be doing pushups or sit ups during the workshops, the boot camp will be intense on a certain level.
"They're going to be doing a mental obstacle course," Chott said. "They're going to be trying to focus on all of the skills in a very short amount of time."
Registration for the workshops is now open. Space is limited to 15 spots per class. To enroll, call JCC's Carnahan Center at 338-1005.
Workshops will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the week. Single session evening workshops and accommodations are available. The registration fee is $400 for the adult track and $280 for the youth track. The registration deadline is July 16.
For Chott and Griffin, being part of the inaugural boot camp was an easy decision. Their careers have been influenced by Ball.
Chott loved comedy growing up. He stayed up late with his dad to watch "Saturday Night Live" and other programs.
"My father used to let me stay up late, and his parents used to let him stay up late so he could watch 'Lucy' because it was the funniest thing they had ever seen," he said. "In a very direct way, her work led to my exposure to the comics of my day as I grew up."
Griffin said God brought her the opportunity to lead the workshops. Growing up in Los Angeles, she adored Ball.
"I watched anything and everything that she did that was available and accessible to me," Griffin said.
She couldn't sleep one night and stumbled upon the Lucy Desi Center's website. Griffin read about the boot camp and applied to become an instructor. When Gunderson called her to talk about the opportunity, Griffin was thrilled.
"On a personal level, it's a warm fuzzy from God to me," she said. "Anyone who knows me knows that I call myself a 'Lucillephile.' I am such a Lucy nut and have such great respect for her as a comedian and a business woman. To be a part of her legacy, something that she wanted to see happen, is beyond an honor."
Visit LucyComedyFest.com for information.