ANDERSON — It was week two of funnyman Eric Shorts’ stand-up comedy workshop at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. A few of the aspiring comics, Laura Nichols from Elwood, Chris Maddy of Yorktown and Jarrod Whitesell from Dunkirk, were sitting around a table near the casino’s steakhouse restaurant waiting for the class to begin.
Once the four-week workshop ends they will have the opportunity to perform on stage at Hoosier Park’s new Terrace Showroom in a weekly show called “Drafts & Laughs,” which begins Jan. 9 at 8 p.m.
Each of the wannabee comics was expected to come to the night’s workshop with at least three jokes they had written for their routine. Laura Nicols admitted, “I’m not a writer. I’m not even a good speller.” Chris Muddy was thumbing through his typewritten pages, then he read aloud, “I saw this sign it said ‘Don’t park near the gas pump.’ How are you supposed to get gas?” Jarrod Whitesell told a funny joke that isn’t printable in a family newspaper but should hit the mark when he’s on stage.
Eighteen comedy hopefuls showed up for the first session; the second workshop ranks had shrunk to 13. Once the class began, Eric Shorts called on each of the participants to read aloud the jokes they had penned for their comedy debut. The tension in the room was palpable as Bruce Cable set a high bar for the rest of the would-be jokers.
Bruce, a former electronics teacher, had a great routine about how people respond to the fact that he is wheelchair bound. After offering a few tweaks to the monologue, Shorts explained why Bruce’s jokes worked so well. “The genesis of all comedy is truth. Your jokes have to be grounded in truth. The audience wants to know who you are, talk about your own experience and make it funny. Be fired up enough to say what’s on your mind. Believe me, after performing for 14 years I know something about comedy. Open up and talk about yourself.”